Monday, February 13, 2012

The Power of Self-Deception

I love to people watch at the mall. I love to see how people in a group respond differently to the exact same stimuli. I love to hear young people laugh. I love to watch Spirit filled Christians worship. I find people fascinating, perhaps because I learn a lot about myself as I watch others react to the world around them.

One aspect of my “people-watching” hobby that I do not enjoy is observing our power of self-deception. I am amazed at how easily we tell ourselves things that are nowhere close to being true. When I hear someone describe themselves using words and phrases that only exist in their minds, not only do I wonder how they can be so miss-guided about their own life, I wonder what lies I have told myself that others see so clearly in me.
The other day I was reading a Facebook conversation between two people. Both are classic “spend-a-holics.” If they have a ten dollar bill in their pocket, they are going to spend it. Sadly, they often spend their ten dollars in advance, causing them to often be indebted to others. As the conversation unfolded, they both prided themselves on how well they handle money. They went on to talk about how they can enjoy “free” and “inexpensive” things to do. Honestly, the words “free” and “inexpensive” do not come to mind when I think of either of those two people. They are good people. I like them a lot. But they both enjoy spending money, almost to the point of being obsessed with “stuff.” Yet, in their minds, they are thrifty and excel in living frugally.

Then there was the long email I got from a person the other day filled with gossip about all the people in their church they did not like. Near the end of the email the person said that they may have some other issues but one thing they did not do was gossip. I so wanted to print the email off, underline their boast about NOT being a gossip and then number each item of gossip in the email and send it back to them with a couple of key scriptures written in the margins. I did not have the courage for that, so instead I told them they should talk to the people individually instead of talking to me and assured the person I would be praying for them. Which I have been doing.
And do not even get me started on all the “diet experts” who have tried to teach me how to eat healthy, almost all of which weigh far more than me! But now I have gone to meddling, so let me make my point.

People are fascinating for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is that we have an amazing capacity for self-deception. When we live in a world of our own delusional thinking, we will be trapped in a negative cycle repeating the same mistakes over and over again. We must be willing to open our minds and hearts to the constructive criticism of others so that we can see our own faults and begin to address them. The ability to honestly assess our own lives and self-correct is essential for healthy living. In my own life, I find a daily quiet time with the Lord essential in this process. As I read the scripture and pray, the Lord points out things in my life that need work. I do not always like what my Friend points out to me. But when I listen and respond, it makes me a more authentic person with a healthier view of self than I had before. What mirror are you using to help you see your imperfections and address them?

For more devotionals like this one, consider Touching the Footprints of Jesus


  1. ouch, now that one kind of hurts!

  2. I like this too.

  3. Good comment, Terry. "Remember your word to your servant in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life." - Ps. 119: 50, 51. The Spirit of God and spiritual armor will make us less susceptible to self-deception. But even when we deal with that affliction, children of God take hope and courage in the life-giving power of God's word.