Where’s your focus pre-Passover?
Passover will be here before we know it. Prior to Passover, we are told in 2 Cor. 13:5 to examine ourselves, to see whether we are in the faith. This verse and teaching has led to much depression, frankly – as so many look inwardly at themselves, and then see all kinds of no-growth, or sin that still exists in their lives and then they feel so unworthy of taking the Passover. And we know what it says in 1 Corinthians 11 – that we must beware lest we take the Passover unworthily or in an unworthy manner.
So I have a question for us all this season, this year: as you examine yourself, where do you focus? On yourself, or elsewhere? Is the examination intended to depress – or refocus our attention and focus? So let’s read the context and the verse after 2 Cor. 13:5 and I think we’ll feel and see a different energy from this passage. I pray many of you will find encouragement and inspiration from this blog to see a positive outcome of growth and fruit at the end of all this.
But first, let me remind you that 1 Corinthians 11:27 – that says we must take the Passover in a worthy manner – also says this in the next verse:
1 Corinthians 11:27-28
“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, AND SO LET HIM EAT of the bread and DRINK of the cup.”
The thrust is – TAKE the Passover. But examine yourself first. But as you examine yourself, you’re looking to Christ and realize HE is your salvation. You don’t examine yourself and then decide NOT to take the Passover. That’s NOT the thrust of scripture. But of course neither are we to come to Passover all nonchalant and without a lot of forethought.
He goes on to say in verses 29-32 that even if we are judged by the Lord, it’s for our good, it’s for chastening, “that we may not be condemned with the world.” You see the point of all this? It’s to get us to wake up but also to understand GOD has made a commitment to us to see us through to the end. He who began a good work in you will FINISH that work –Philippians 1:6. No one will be lost from the Master’s hand. Remember Christ is called the “Finisher” of our faith, not just the author or beginner of it (Hebrews 12:2).
So what’s the key to having the right mindset for Passover? ON what are you focusing? Where is your focus? Click on “Continue reading” to see the key.
Let’s get back to 2 Corinthians 13:5 – to examine yourselves. That would seem to say – be looking at yourself with a magnifying glass. But IS that what it’s saying? And would that end in a good outcome?
In 2 Corinthians 13:1-3, Paul reminds them that some Corinthians were promoting the idea that Paul was weak and would not correct. But then he says this:
2 Corinthians 13:3-6
“…since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you. 4 For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you.
5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disqualified. 6 But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.”
Look at the verses all around v. 5. Paul is talking about Christ! He’s reminding them that we shall live with Christ “by the power of God toward you”. And the last part of verse 5 again focuses on Christ.
If I were to tell you over and over – “whatever you do, do NOT think of a large pink elephant. Don’t picture a pink elephant – as that would be bad. Get a pink elephant out of your mind. Never again think of a pink elephant.”
SO – what is your mind thinking about? Of course! A pink elephant.
Sometimes it seems many think “examining ourselves” means to focus on ourselves, on our ongoing weaknesses, and on our missed goals, on our failures at home and at work in our Christian living – and somehow that would make us start doing things better by focusing on ourselves and where we’ve failed.
But that’s like trying not to think about a pink elephant that you focus on over and over! It just magnifies the problem, as we shall see. If you just focus on all your downsides and on all your failures, on YOU, it won’t get better but just get worse.
Throughout the New Testament, the RIGHT focus is constantly given to us: focus on the Author and Finisher of our faith, Jesus of Nazareth, Yeshua the Son of God.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 LOOKING TO Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Do you see what we’re told? LAY ASIDE the weights, the sins – and LOOK TO Jesus. When He was on the cross, it says he ALSO looked ahead – “to the JOY set before him…”
Let’s say you realize in your examination that a particular sin still seems to wield too strong a hold on you. Do we focus on the sin? I think scripture gives us a better way. Focus instead on Yeshua, our Savior. In contact with him throughout the day, you focus on how he positively would handle that sin or temptation if he were there standing next to you. (But it’s even better: he is IN you and me by the Holy Spirit, and our bodies are the temple of God’s spirit). Keep your eyes fixed on HIM.
Our Yeshua appears “in the presence of God FOR US…” – Hebrews 9:24. Remember we are to have “BOLDNESS in the day of Judgment, for as he is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17).
Paul teaches throughout Romans 7 and other places that focusing on himself, and on sin, seemed to just make the sin all the more dominant in his life. He ends the chapter – after saying that he still sometimes found himself doing the things he hated – by saying “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Imagine a long pause, a drum roll… as we wait for the answer: “I thank God, through Jesus Christ Jesus our lord.” Romans 7:24-25.
So again, where was his focus? On his failures? NO, brothers and sisters! It was again on our Savior!
Somehow focusing on HIM and his perfection, and his power, and his willingness to work with you and me – will change us faster than focusing on ourselves will ever do. Remember – don’t think of the pink elephant but think about our Champion, our King, our Leader.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18
“Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
Stay in touch with HIM. Talk often with him. Ask him to LIVE in you, to MOVE in you, to grow in you, so people see more and more Yeshua and less and less of you and me. I LOVE what John the Baptist says: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). My problems and your problems grow when WE increase instead of Christ increasing. We need less of us and more of him. THIS is what overcomes our sins; when we focus on HIM, and not on the sin.
But again, go back and read Romans 7:7-11 carefully. Paul says that the more he focused on sin and the law about that sin, the worse it got. But he gives us the answer: WHO IS going to deliver me? I thank God through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 7:25).
So yes – figure out what needs to be repented of and overcome. Then – focus on your answer! Focus on your Savior. Focus on His Passover. Focus on his perfection and kindness and love -- and see how that frees you from the sin faster and stronger than you’ll ever do by focusing on the sins that bedevil us.
And then, in profound thanksgiving, take the Passover bread and drink of the Master’s cup with all the rest of the children of God.
We love you, our King, our Master and are so proud of you!!!