The Socratic ideal of self-knowledge is hard to come by, but it can be done. We are often apt to give up when we find unpleasing information about ourselves or we can deceive ourselves. The Bible gives some philosophical tools to help you find this rare form of knowledge.
Here are five resources from the Bible to help you overcome self-ignorance and gain self-knowledge:
- Critique yourself as harshly as you feel tempted to critique others.
Matthew 7:1-5 ESV “Judge not, that you be not judged. (2) For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. (3) Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? (4) Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? (5) You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
- Do a thought experiment and judge your life as though you were keeping watch on accurate teaching. Does your life measure up? You’ll find your flaws and virtues very quickly this way. You could also imagine that you are a pastor and that somebody who is just like you came to you for advice. What would you need to know about them to help them overcome their sins, bad habits, and folly in general?
1 Timothy 4:16 ESV Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
- Compare yourself to the ideals contained in the word of God, especially Jesus.
1 John 3:2-3 ESV Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (3) And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
- Compare yourself to the ideals in the world around you.
Proverbs 13:20 ESV Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
- Invite Criticism from Others
Proverbs 24:5-6 ESV A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might, (6) for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.