Chesbon Ha’Nefesh is a Hebrew phrase that means “Accounting of the Soul.” Chesbon (i.e. Accounting) is a technical term that refers to the meticulous work of detailed accounting used in business contexts, taxes, etc. So to extract this principle for spiritual and moral development let us examine ourselves and invest the time necessary to move through our assumptions, beliefs, and goals.
Accounting of the Soul – Represents a structured examination of one’s life. This examination includes, but is not limited to: (a) beliefs, (b) worldview, (c) values, (d) capacities, (e) strengths, (f) weaknesses, (g) identity, (h) environment, (i) purpose in life, and (j) goals.
In what ways and at what times have you not kept your word, intentionally said or did something to hurt another person, unintentionally said or did something to hurt another person, lied or manipulated others to get your way, committed adultery, hate another (i.e. hatred is as murder – 1 John 3:15), elevate the passing things of the earth over the Glory and Authority of Your Creator, or blasphemed God? For all of things and others there is a reason why the first message of John the Baptist and of Jesus Christ was to — Repent (Matthew 3:1-2; 4:17).
Repentance requires us to be honest with ourselves, and we cannot be honest with ourselves without first humbling ourselves. Since “we have been saved by grace through faith” (Ephesians 2:5-10), and “God gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5), therefore it is necessary to come to God by repentance, which is the basic expression of honesty and humility. For this reason, the “goodness of God leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4), because “godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10).
Your life is a systemic whole, which means that your feelings influence your thoughts, and your thoughts influence your feelings. Your decisions influence both of these areas, and vice-versa. Similarly, people who study micro-expressions understand that certain eye movements and facial expressions correlate with certain affective and cognitive states. The decisions, thought-patterns, and emotional feelings that you tend to regularly experience will influence you in the future.
To complete this examination properly – you will become aware of the various distinctions taking place inside your being. Namely, you will become intimately aware of your fears, prejudices, assumptions, beliefs, emotional states, internal dialogue, and decision making processes. Below is the Biblical Foundation for the need of going through the Way towards an Accounting of the Soul. True humility is an accurate understanding of who you are in God’s plan and purpose, as well as your own strengths and weaknesses.
Biblical Foundation – Accounting of the Soul.
2 Corinthians 13:5 – Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disqualified.
1 Corinthians 3:10 – According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.
1 Corinthians 11:27-29 – Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
1 Thessalonians 4:4 – That each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor.
Galatians 6:2-4 – Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
James 1:23-24 – For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
Lamentations 3:39-41 – Why should a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins? Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to Yahweh; let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven.
1 Timothy 4:16 – Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.
Proverbs 4:18-27 – But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you. Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil.
Proverbs 5:21 – For the ways of man are before the eyes of Yahweh, and He ponders all his paths.
Proverbs 14:8, 15 – The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, but the folly of fools is deceit. The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps.
Proverbs 25:28 – Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.
Proverbs 20:5 – Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.
Proverbs 20:27 – The spirit of a man is the lamp of Yahweh, searching all the inner depths of his heart.
Psalms 26:2 – Examine me, O Yahweh, and prove me; try my mind and my heart.
Psalms 119:59 – I thought about my ways, and turned my feet to Your testimonies.
Psalms 139:23-24 – Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Deuteronomy 4:9 – Only take heed to yourself (lit. souls), and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren.
Luke 17:3-4 – Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, I repent, you shall forgive him.
Luke 21:34-36 – But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.
John 3:19-21 – And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.
Job 13:23 – How many are my iniquities and sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin.
Ezekiel 20:43 – And there you shall remember your ways and all your doings with which you were defiled; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight because of all the evils that you have committed.
Basic questions to initiate examination.
Who are you? Why? – Identity
Where are you from? Why? – Origin
What do you deem as important? Why? – Values
Who do you deem as important? Why? – Values
Why are you here on earth? Why? – Purpose in life, passion
Where are you going? Why? – Future, vision, hope, faith
What is life all about? Why? – Worldview(s)
What can you contribute? Why? – Capabilities, capacities, strengths, weaknesses
What/Who has shaped who I am now? Why? – Culture, environment, family history, genetics
What are your priorities in life? Why? – Life organization, direction
Primary aspects of your being.
∆ Thoughts (cognitive) – ideas, beliefs, stereotypes, worldviews
∆ Emotions (affective) – emotions, attitudes, feelings, moods, states
∆ Will (volition) – intentional decision making, conation
∆ Behavior – actions, non-actions, words, facial expressions
^^^Rabbinic tradition simplifies these to three specific processes (i.e. thoughts, words, actions)
Secondary aspects of your being.
Biological Genetic Environmental Life Experiences Family History Values
Socioeconomic status Gender Age Race Life-Stage Geographic Location
Situational Context Goals Language Social Roles Culture Personality
Temperament Social Norms Expectations
The arrangement of Primary and Secondary aspects of our being is not about superiority, but it is that those aspects of our being in the Primary category influence internally and externally those aspects within the Secondary category. For those of you wondering how our genetics can be influenced by those expressions in the Primary category, the field of Positive Psychology (i.e. Barbara Fredrickson and others) has clearly shown that our emotions can alter our gene expression.
Presented here is a working model for you to utilize in your own walk of personal development, moral development, and spiritual development.
Peace be with each of you…