I am sure you have considered God’s command in 1 Corinthians 11:28: “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” It sounds simple enough, but what is actually involved in this kind of self-examination? How should we prepare ourselves before celebrating the Lord’s supper? Thomas Haweis offers help in his classic work The Communicant’s Spiritual Companion, recently republished by Reformation Heritage Books. He offers these 4 directions:
Examine your repentance. Consider whether you have really repented of your former sins and purposed to lead a new life. You can help determine repentance by considering whether you have a sorrow for sin, a hatred of sin, a general forsaking of sin, and whether there are clear evidences of change in your heart and life. Have you confessed known sin? Are you genuinely sorry for how your sin has offended God? Is there evidence that God has been transforming you by his power?
Examine your faith. Consider whether you have a dead faith or a living faith—a mere speculative assent to the truth or a lively, genuine, energetic trust in God. This is the kind of faith that directs you to Christ as your propitiation and that lays hold of his strength as the only power that can cleanse and pardon you. Where is your trust? How often are you pondering the great truths of the gospel?
Examine your gratitude. Consider whether you are thankful for the precious privileges which are yours in Christ. If you are aware of the depth of your sin and the heights of God’s mercy, you must be filled with gratitude. Are you quick to give thanks when you pray? Are you quick to give thanks to God for his grace and mercy? Do you thank God for his most precious gift of his Son?
Examine your love. Consider whether you are “in charity with all men.” The Christian faith is a faith of love toward God that works itself out in love for one another. Are you harboring hatred or malice toward another person? Are you expressing love in acts of kindness and charity? Are you especially showing love to fellow believers?
“Let a person examine himself, then.” And let him do it by repentance, faith, gratitude, and love.