I have counseled and pastored for many years, and one of the things that has impressed me over and over again is how self-deluded people can be. Including me.
It's amazingly difficult to see ourselves with accuracy. We see other people with a fairly high degree of accuracy, but we don't seem to see ourselves with the same precision.
Here are a few I've experienced:
- I've been yelled at by angry people who angrily defended themselves when I suggested that they struggled with anger.
- I've had controlling people take over a conversation so they could persuade me how serving they were.
- I've listened to someone boldly proclaim that one of their spiritual strengths was humility.
- I've watched as vengeful people lived unaware of their constant desire to settle the score with others.
- I've pastored many men, eaten with the cancer of lust, who told me that sex wasn't a big struggle for them.
- I've sat with bitter and retaliatory wives who provided me with a list of ways they thought they were loving their husbands.
- I've spoken to gymnasiums full of teenagers who said they respected their elders but actually lived as if they were wiser than the surrounding authorities.
- I've worked alongside ungracious and legalistic pastors who preached about their allegiance to a theology of grace.
Why are we so deluded? Several reasons. First, we make the mistake of comparing ourselves to the diluted standards of the surrounding culture, standards that fall far below God's will for us. Second, we also make the mistake of comparing ourselves to others, always able to find someone who appears to be more sinful than we are. And third, we spend so much time arguing for our righteousness that it leaves little time to reflect on the reality of remaining sin.
Add to all of this the basic nature of sin. Sin is deceitful. It blinds, it hides, it defends, it wears masks, it bends its shape into more acceptable forms, it points fingers of blame, and it even questions the goodness of God. Sin always first blinds the person who is sinning the sin.
A physically blind person is never blind to his or her blindness. They're immediately confronted with the reality that they're unable to see, so they set up boundaries and seek out help to stay safe in the midst of this profound physical deficiency.
Spiritually blind people, however, are convinced that they see quite well. They don't seek help for their blindness, nor do they set up boundaries, because they think they're safe.
Here's what I want to leave you with today: admit that you're more spiritually blind than you realize, and seek resources of sight.
Ask the Lord to open your eyes as you read his Word, as you commune with him in prayer, and as you listen to spiritual authorities. Ask the Lord to give you a humble and receptive heart when fellow brothers and sisters confront your sin, even if you think they're totally inaccurate.
King David says in Psalm 51:3, "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me." Ask the Lord to give you those eyes that can see and confess sin. There is life-giving blessing in seeing yourself with accuracy, and only grace can grant you that type of sight.
Your Father will give sight when you ask!
- Which of those 8 examples are you guilty of? Think about specific instances.
- How have you recently compared yourself to others to make yourself feel more righteous?
- How can God use you as an instrument of sight in the lives of others?