Why Do We Deceive Ourselves?

why_am_I_the_way_that_I_amContinued from here.

All of us are vulnerable to self-deception. We see other people’s actions and make judgments based upon them, but we hold ourselves to a different standard, basing our judgments on our motives, past hurts, etc. For example, I judge Joe Smith for speaking rudely to me, but I give myself a pass for doing the same thing to someone else because I’m recovering from the flu. After all, I’m in physical pain, so it’s understandable that I have less self-control today. And yet I don’t consider that perhaps Joe Smith was also in physical pain and needed grace extended toward his rudeness rather than verbal sparring.

It’s painful and embarrassing to own up to our shortcomings. We read about the fruit of the Spirit and want people to perceive us this way, but that’s not who we are. Let’s face it – nobody (other than Jesus) is naturally this way. We have to work at it, and it’s HARD. For example, I always cringe when I hear that someone is praying for patience because I did that myself … and spent the next several months doing a LOT of waiting! After all, how can someone possibly develop patience without having to wait? One needs the conditions for which patience is required in order to develop that fruit. So, a prayer for patience is really inviting God to allow you to wait — to suffer — until you develop patience in response.

A problem with self-deception is that we don’t know that we are being deceived. We actually think we are OK, but we’re not. Those closest to you are likely well-aware of the shortcomings that you lie to yourself about. Just as a tree is known by its fruit, your spiritual fruit (or lack thereof) communicates the truth of what is inside your heart to everyone around you. Instead of reacting in anger when your spouse, parent, or child makes an observation about your behavior, try considering whether he or she might be seeing something that you have been deceiving yourself about.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace looking at herself in a mirror and asking, “Why am I the way that I am?” Courtesy Bitmoji.]