Making a fearless moral inventory

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.


Now we’re getting personal. This is where we get at the flaws in our character — our sins and our excuses, rationalizations and justifications for them. This is where we get all the negative stuff about ourselves out on the table and figure out what to do with it. It sounds scary, and it is scary, but it is also freeing. It will ultimately involve others, but right now, it’s yourself, paper and a pen.

The hardest thing about taking a thorough moral inventory of ourselves is that we have buried our worst traits under piles and piles of rationalizations and blame so it becomes hard for us to get at this all by ourselves. After all, we’ve learned to live with ourselves the way we are, so we’ve learned to cope with our sins and our justifications. That’s why this needs to be a fearless inventory. We must leave no stone unturned, and when we pick up one stone and find another one underneath it, we have to turn over that one, and the next, and the next, and the next. Like a child who keeps asking “Why?” after every answer, we need to keep questioning why we do what we do. Keep asking “Why?”

We’re learning about ourselves. If all we do is list our sins, we are not really helping ourselves. About the only thing you can do with a list of sins is stop doing them, and who among us has the will power to do that? That is mere legalism, and legalism is the last thing we want to foster here.

Our job is to find the holes in our character because they hold the keys to discovering His strength in our lives. Our weaknesses are really our strength, because it is in them that we find God’s power. That’s why Paul says he glories in his weaknesses because when he is weak in himself then he can be strong in the Lord.

So think of this step as an unraveling. We start with the glaring sins and we start pulling on them until we find the deeper needs and holes in our lives that they are attached to. Keep pulling. This is a big ball of ugliness attached to something we can open up to the Lord and maybe even experience some healing and deliverance.

We have a huge advantage here if we are already in a relationship with the Lord.

As we enter into this step, that we can do this fearlessly because we already know we are loved and forgiven. Whatever we find in this process will not change our status as a child of God. And if you aren’t in a relationship with the Lord, there’s no better time than now to start one by accepting His free gift of salvation to all on the cross.

I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene

And wonder how He could love me, a sinner condemned unclean

How marvelous, how wonderful

And my song shall ever be

How marvelous, how wonderful

Is my Savior’s love for me

                      — Charles H. Gabriel

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6 Responses to Making a fearless moral inventory

  1. Jesus Aguilar says:

    Aha! Good morning and thank you for marking the road to recovery. This is for everyone to know that when we are taking the steps of alcoholics anonymous, we take one at the time and we do not take the next step until we have thoroughly taking the prior step, making sure that the foundation is solid and aware that there maybe some thing that we have to come back later on and review, other words we have an A A the opportunity of a do over. When we embark into step four we are under the care and protection of God, we get encouraged by the mistakes and shortcoming of the person that is guiding us. They are not perfect, this is a relief, we do not have to be perfect but we have to be willing to be vulnerable; we are willing to go to any length and look into the corners make sure that our room is completely clean, as clean as we can perceive it now. This step is not difficult unless we make it. I found out when I took it that the more help the better and lots of people were willing to help. Today I am free to go any where, say anything, and do anything for the Lord is with me whatever I go, I never have to walk alone. I live in the light of the Spirit and the light of the Spirit illuminates the road less travel that I am convinced to walk. I say to you: DO NOT FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT. PLEASE JUST MAKE IT UNDER THE LOVING CARE OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR.

  2. Gary says:

    Without knowing what was in the Catch today, I for some reason I looked up on Wikipedia, Penance. I was left feeling empty. It was a bit over whelming and legalistic. Then I read todays Catch and then I settled down and felt an inner peace from what I didn’t know what I was looking for.. Finding the holes in my character, even though I know the Lord, is a day to day discovery. I know it is the Lord who reveals them to me or else I would go on my merry way.

  3. Sandie says:

    All my sins lead to this…self-love/selfishness powered by pride…or is it the other way around? Have I made any progress in the 40+ years I’ve known Jesus? Only when I let Jesus break my heart and pay attention to what lies underneath. Do I still get mad when someone crosses me? You betcha! But now I pray for them.Do I still think I’m better than everyone else? More times than not. But I’ve learned to pray for myself. As Amy Grant sings, “No longer what we were before – but not all that we will be.” Thank God for his unending love and grace.

  4. lindastapleton7 says:

    Great comments in your article and in the replies above. Seems your questions got lost here:
    What is your greatest fear about taking this step?
    What gives you comfort about this?
    Having taken this step a number of times before (as we said in church last night, this is a lifetime process) I no longer fear it when it’s time for another review. Not because I don’t think I will find anything ugly, but because I know that God can reveal and then heal, it is the things that are hidden that stay in darkness. And I know that God already loves me and offers forgiveness if I am ready to confess my sins and shortcomings.
    I am comforted by the fact that several million people are recovering from their addictions and dependencies and driving out their demons by following these steps so if this process works for them, it can and is working for me, too. It is also comforting to know that there is nothing I can reveal to God that He doesn’t already know and yet He still loves me and wants me to become the very best person I can be, by the power of His might.

    God bless you, John, I am very grateful for this series and opportunity to view these steps through a new pair of glasses (from a Christian viewpoint).

    Last night I mentioned Recovery Bibles and the one I have recently started using is excellent at tying the Word of God to the 12 Step Programme. It is The Life Recovery Bible and it is the New Living Translation.

  5. jwfisch says:

    Yes, I’ve heard that’s good. Thanks for your comments.

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