Introspection: a looking into one’s own mind, feelings, reactions, etc.; observation and analysis of oneself.
Morbid: having, or caused by disease; unhealthy, diseased.
It is good to check up on ourselves from time to time to see if we are tolerating some major blind spot or nursing along some grudge or other. But there is a way of self-examination that is unhealthy, that dwells on self to the exclusion of others.
If we are conducting a little spiritual check up on ourselves and being mighty pleased with what we see, patting ourselves on the back and congratulating ourselves and giving ourselves a high five, then we may be prideful, wouldn’t you say? That’s pretty straight forward. But what if we are checking up on ourselves and bemoaning the fact that we are wicked and bad and big fat failures and no goods and losers? Isn’t that essentially the same thing? Both are self-absorbed. And whether it is positive pride or negative pride, both are self-centered.
The essence of pride is self-absorption; it is all about me, me, and me some more. Whether it is positive or negative, pride is what is at the bottom.
When my kids were little and I fell into bed at night exhausted, I sometimes would give way to the ol’ “I’m such a terrible mother” routine. As I was lying there waiting to drift off, I would think about how I should have read that story one more time. How I should have done this and that and not done something else. Pretty soon I would just feel like the worst mom ever. My dear husband would say something practical like, “If you sinned, confess it. If you didn’t, go to sleep!” Very sound advice. In the bright morning light, over a cup of coffee, I might revisit my thoughts about my mothering and decide that I wasn’t such a horrible mom after all. Pretty good in fact! I learned that after ten o’clock at night, I was not such a good judge of my mothering (or anything else).
Morbid introspection delights in finding faults, and goodness knows we all have plenty to keep ourselves entertained if that is what we want to do. While a little bit of godly self-examination will keep us humble, morbid introspection paralyzes and discourages us. It is not fruitful.
The Holy Spirit convicts us of specific sins, like snapping at Johnny with annoyance. The accuser has another agenda all together, and accuses us of “being a bad mom” or “being a bad friend” or whatever. You can repent of snapping at Johnny, but how do you repent of being a bad friend? What specific duty did you neglect? Accusations of this sort are usually muddled and general and designed to confuse and disable. False guilt never goes away, even after confession. Real guilt can be dealt with, cleansed, forgiven, and put away for good.
So, if you are “listening” to a lot of bum dope about what a punk you are, you need to start ignoring such stuff and change the station. Learn to recognize the difference between accusations and real conviction of sin. If you are God’s child, ask Him to do the examination. He is much better at it.
Ps. 26:2 Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart.