As a pastor I often run into the frustration of working with people who are just like me. I do not mean they have the same personality, life experiences, education etc. I mean they do not often want to hear admonishment from other people. They do not want to learn from the sins and mistakes of others. They don't want to hear how they need to appropriate the clear biblical Word to their life situation. They don't want to hear they are traveling down the wrong path.
Why is this?
I realize that the heart of the issue is that they tell themselves the same delicious lie I speak into my own life. I tell myself a delicious lie that keeps me from wisdom. The people I shepherd and the people I meet on the highways and byways of life all tell themselves the same delicious lie. What is this delicious lie?
The delicious lie that melts in our mouths like the choicest morsels, that is more pleasing to our eye than the most beautiful sunset, that tickles our ear in a manner greater than the best of compliments, is the lie that we are not self-deceived. We hear someone tell us how our choices, decisions, behaviors, attitudes, and worldviews are leading us into various destructive consequences in life and we respond with, "but." "But your situation is different than mine. But your personality is different than mine. But your life experiences are different than mine. But your relationships are different than mine. But your ability to handle that situation is different than mine. But I know my own thoughts and intentions better than you do."
What is assumed is that we are a better judge of our own hearts than others are. We assume we are a better judge of our own intentions, abilities, and moral fortitude than others are. We do not believe "the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick (Jer. 17:9)." At least we do not believe our hearts are. We do not believe we are self-deceived. We do not believe someone else can speak into our lives and be correct unless their conclusions are the same as ours.
Therefore, we gather only those who tell us what our itching ears want to hear. We receive advice only from those who agree with the conclusion we have already come to. We accept the portions of the Bible that tell us what we already want to believe. In other words, we only really listen to what we are already telling ourselves because the ultimate self-deception is that truth really comes from within me and not from outside of me. The ultimate self-deception is that we have more wisdom than God and thus the most delicious lie of all is the self-deception that we are Him.
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