Mention the word “audit” and watch a business leader cringe. Why? Well, it’s like a trip to the dentist office. You dread going but deep down you know it’s necessary. Organizations routinely and voluntarily conduct audits to ensure proper financial procedures are followed. An annual audit of church finances reassures congregations that money donated in good faith is properly accounted for.
“But talking about audits is boring.” At the same time we would be wise to routinely conduct a personal audit to check how we are doing as followers of God.
Here are six areas you could examine:
- Are you actively pursuing God’s purpose for your life?
- How are you managing resources God entrusted to you?
- Where are you utilizing your time and energy? What are your priorities?
- How is your Christian witness? Do you set a good example?
- What is your influence? Are you respected as a person of conviction?
- How is your personal relationship with Christ? Can you honestly say you are growing in faith?
A thorough and complete audit should expose many excellent qualities about you and your walk with God and a good audit will also reveal areas needing improvement.
Speaking of audits … “After dark one evening, a Jewish religious leader named Nicodemus, a Pharisee, came to speak with Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are proof enough that God is with you.’” (John 3:1–2)
Jesus replied, “I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God.”
Jesus has an audit message for Nicodemus: a religious leader who today would likely be called pastor. Question: “Why would a respected pastor need to be born again?” Nicodemus himself asks: “What do you mean? How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” (3:4)
What does Jesus mean by “born again” and why would he say that to a leader like Nicodemus?
This is the only time Jesus mentions the term, “born again,” and he is speaking to a person who would already be considered a faithful follower of God. Why? Is Jesus saying to Nicodemus that even those of us who are already “born again” need to be “born again,” … again?
For example: A business sets a monthly goal. The goal sounds high, maybe impossible! But somehow they reach the goal during the first week. Wow! A great achievement — or is it? The next month they reach their goal by day four and the next month by day five? What would you think? Could it be time for an audit? An audit that would likely show the business needing to set higher goals?
Likewise, if you’re satisfied with an initial “born again” experience but don’t continue developing and strengthening your relationship with Christ? You need an audit. You need to be born again … again!
Becoming “Born Again” can be the beginning but becoming “Born Again” can also serve as an audit.
You get married, have a wonderful honeymoon. When you return you go back to your house and your spouse goes to their house and both of you go back to living exactly the same way you lived before the wedding. What? What kind of relationship would that be? This couple needs an audit.
Becoming “born again” is meant to be the beginning of a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
Maybe it’s time to look at our audit questions again:
- Are you actively pursuing God’s purpose for your life? God has a purpose especially designed for your unique gifts and talents. What are you doing about it?
- How are you managing resources God entrusted to you? If God examined your checkbook would you be excited or nervous? Does God participate in your financial decisions?
- Where are you utilizing your time and energy? What are your priorities? If God were to examine your schedule would your time be distributed between work, family, and God?
- How is your Christian witness? Do you set a good example? Do you regularly pray with and for family and friends? Do you seek opportunities to talk about God?
- What is your influence? Are you respected and known as a person of conviction? If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
- How is your personal relationship with Christ? Can you say you are growing in faith? Are you with a small group designed to encourage and hold each other accountable before God?
These are tough questions requiring thoughtful answers.
Audits can be painful but they also offer valuable insights into your daily walk with God.
The lessons learned can help you rethink your relationship with Christ and provide your own “born again” experience.
In the same passage of Scripture, Jesus then says to Nicodemus and continues to say to us: “For God so loved the world he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.” (John 3:16–17)
I too need an audit and it will be painful at times but I also know the pain of fearlessly examining myself will lead to the joy of a deepened relationship with Jesus.
How about you? Are you ready to be “born again”?
About Larry Davies
Larry Davies is currently the Lynchburg, Virginia District Superintendent for 89 United Methodist Churches. He has been the pastor of small, medium, and large churches. For many years, Larry managed and trained sales people in the automobile business. He is also the author of Live the Light: Five Weeks to a Light that Shines and three other books. Larry is the founder of Sowing Seeds of Faith, a worldwide prayer ministry and writing ministry, www.SowingSeedsofFaith.com. His columns and blog posts appear in several newspapers, magazines, and websites. Larry is a graduate of Virginia Tech and received his Master of Divinity at Duke University. Mell, Larry’s wife, recently retired from Concord Elementary School. Larry has two children and two grandchildren and a lively but older Springer Spaniel named Daisy.