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Asking "Who?"

But let a man examine himself,
1 Corinthians 11:28
For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
1 Corinthians 11:31
Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart.
Psalm 26:2
Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD.
Lamentations 3:40
Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. {6} Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. {7} Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.
Haggai 1:5-7
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you (unless ye be reprobates)?
2 Corinthians 13:5

There are many ways to begin a thorough examination of yourself. One way is by asking "Who?"

These questions can be answered in a number of ways.

Necessity is the mother of invention

Someone comes to you and tells you that John Doe is angry at you. You ask why, but the messenger doesn't  know. You go to John Doe and ask why he's mad at you, but he says he isn't, or "it's nothing," but you can tell he is, and it's something, not "nothing."

Jesus says, "Be reconciled" (Matthew 5:24).

You need to find out what you did to offend John Doe. You must find out. Don't say,"Well, I'm on my way to Church right now; I'll do it later." This is more important than going to Church. This is being the Church.

Jesus says, "First be reconciled" (Matthew 5:24).

In a nutshell, you did something unloving to John Doe. The Bible says to love your neighbor is to fulfill the Law of God with respect to your neighbor.

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. {9} For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. {10} Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Romans 13:8-10

Therefore, you can use the Ten Commandments to take a "moral inventory" of yourself and find out in what way you were unloving to John Doe. Go through each of the Commandments and ask yourself if you can honestly say you have kept the Commandment with respect to your neighbor. You will find many more examples of sin than John Doe even considered, but one will likely be the one that has offended him. Making amends will help bring reconciliation.

A Systematic Inventory: People-Centered

You have likely offended people who, for various reasons, will not tell you, or even tell a friend, like John Doe did (above). Regular review of your acquaintances through the Ten Commandments will help you and your acquaintance develop Godly character.

All of us have many relationships, but we tend to de-personalize them. We forget that they are people because we see them only as roles: "boss," "maid," "employee," "politician," etc. The Fifth Commandment helps refresh our relationship-memories. Question 124 of the Larger Catechism asks:

Who are meant by father and mother in the fifth commandment?
Answer: By father and mother, in the fifth commandment, are meant, not only natural parents, but all superiors in age and gifts; and especially such as, by God's ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family, church, or commonwealth.

This is one of the most important questions in the Catechism. The Fifth Commandment applies to your birth parents, your foster parents, your adoptive parents, your guard in jail, your employer, your mayor, your popularly-elected president, your totalitarian dictator, your older brother, your aunts and uncles, your priest or pastor, the guy who knows more about algebra than you do and sometimes helps you with your homework, and the guy who is much better than you are at basketball and continually insults you when you miss an easy lay-up.

Further, the Fifth Commandment covers our relationships with our "superiors," "inferiors," and "equals." We can compile a list of people we are related to in these various ways, and then look to the Catechism to see if we have kept our duties with respect to these people. We can have different relationships with the same person. In an economic pinch, you might have hired your father-in-law to do some work in your business. He is your "inferior" on the job, but your "superior" in another sense. And in the household of God, the duties we have as "equals" apply to all. The duties we have under the Eighth Commandment ("Thou shalt not steal") and the Fourth Commandment ("Remember the Sabbath [Q. 118]) are somewhat different for superiors vis-a-vis inferiors. Considering our different relationships will help us see different duties.

Listening to the promptings of Conscience

As we go through the Catechism and the Commandments using one of these frameworks, God will speak to us about people or events which seemingly have nothing to do with what we thought we were looking for, bringing forgotten people to mind, reminding us of our shortcomings, and prompting us to make amends. With each prooftext from the Catechism, we can prayerfully seek God's conviction and prompting.

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