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This is the time of year to take inventory

For most of us who have ever worked retail, manufacturing or distribution, the thought of taking year-end inventory likely evokes some vivid memories – not all of them good. Some of mine include lost weekends, arriving early and leaving late, sore feet, short tempers, finger-pointing and lots of pizza.

The inventory process can be painful, but it is both necessary and valuable. After all, a significant variance between the actual amount of product on hand versus what the books say should be on hand could be indicative of customer theft, employee theft, weak internal controls, or inaccurate costing systems – to name just a few of the possibilities.

On a personal level, there is also value to be found in conducting an inventory of our lives this time of year. The holiday season is the perfect opportunity to spend some time reviewing personal goals, reflecting on accomplishments and determining how to be better in 2022 than we were in 2021.

Obviously, one aspect of our personal inventory process should include thinking about our relationship with the Lord.

During his ministry, it is significant that Jesus repeatedly called people to the process of self-examination. In the 14th chapter of his gospel, Luke explains that as large crowds were following after Jesus, he wheeled around and fired off several inventory-type questions designed to ensure that those who were following had counted the cost of doing so.

By inspiration, the apostle Paul also wrote about the need to self-examine. As he made a plea to the Christians at Corinth to properly observe the Lord’s Supper, he said, “If we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged” (1 Corinthians 1:21).

Following are some questions designed to help us as we assess our relationship with God:

  1. What are my most prominent weaknesses, spiritually speaking?
  2. Which sins tempt me most, and am I doing anything to resist them?
  3. Is my church attendance predictable and consistent?
  4. Am I a promoter of peace, harmony, and unity among my church family?
  5. How many days a week do I read my Bible?
  6. Am I the family member God has called me to be?
  7. Am I living a life of sexual purity?
  8. Have I opened myself up to allowing the Lord to use me in the broadest way possible?
  9. Have I stepped out of my comfort zone for Jesus in the past 12 months?
  10. Would my life better imitate Jesus if I were more generous with my time and my money?

The list could go on and on, but these should be sufficient to begin the process of self-examination.

In the end, quality self-examination will always reveal a variance between where we are and where the Lord would have us be. While we should be overwhelmed with gratitude for both his grace and mercy, we must remember that within that variance is the opportunity for growth, improvement and a better 2022.

Be sure to take some time to self-examine as you enjoy the holidays. Even if it’s painful, you’ll be glad you did.

Philip Goad is the minister at North Highlands Church of Christ in Russellville. He is married to Marla, and they have a daughter, Kayla Thorne, who is married to Josh. They also have a son, Preston, and one grandchild, Greyson Thorne.