Why does the prospect of making an honest personal inventory, as Life Recovery Step Four states, scare most people?
When someone does a personal inventory, there’s an enormous amount of pain involved. Why? Because it’s painful for a person to come to terms with how they’ve harmed themselves and others. So, out of all the 12 Steps, Step Four is often one of the most challenging steps.
Life Recovery Step Four says, “We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
It won’t be easy as a person takes stock of their life. Making a moral inventory involves writing down all the things they have done that have hurt themselves or others. These things may bother them—and they want to forget them. Thinking about the past and writing it down might be the last things someone wants to do.
One of the best examples of this in the Bible is when the Jewish exiles returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian Captivity. After rebuilding the city walls and the temple, the priests gathered the people to read the Book of the Law. Not surprisingly, they had lost touch with God. And they didn’t know His laws—so naturally, they hadn’t practiced them either. Then, the people were so overwhelmed with grief that they began sobbing because they did not measure up.
The priests said, “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the LORD your God…Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared . . . for the joy of the LORD is your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:9-10, NLT).
That day marked the beginning of Sukkot, also known as the Festival of Tabernacles, a required Jewish feast that celebrated their escape from bondage in Egypt and God’s care for them while they wandered in the wilderness. But after they assessed where they were at in their relationship with God, they could reconnect with Him and grow in relationship with Him.
Like the Jews who returned to Jerusalem out of captivity, someone who makes a moral inventory will receive the “joy of the Lord” to give them strength. This joy comes from recognizing and celebrating God’s ability to bring them out of bondage and care for them as they pass through the sadness toward a new way of life.
One must lay down their sadness and face the things that have hurt their heart and others. When they do, they’ll find strength—the joy in the Lord always helps to face the sadness.
by Steve Arterburn