God warns us that
“there is a way that seems right to a man but the ends thereof are the ways of death”, Proverbs 14:12, 16:25.
What ‘seems right’ isn’t necessarily right. It may be tragically wrong for us. Yet we cling to our own ideas as if they were set in concrete. How foolish we can be.
There are several situations I have some connection with where at least one of the people in the mess has strongly held ideas that stop them seeing the truth.
I also reflect on the fact that I have known people who have refused to work through various issues over decades of their life. They stay the same, with the same toxic attitudes or damaged relationships, refusing to deal with things that could completely transform their life.
It’s sad then that we feel so confident about being right. Yet we do. We get something into our head and we hold that thought dear as if our life depended on it. We then interpret information that comes to us through the filter of our personal confidence about being right.
One person who really needs breakthrough was challenged by family members who hoped to get through to them. The person saw it as, “They’re all ganging up on me”.
A trick we all tend to use is to find fault in the other parties in our situations and then justify our own responses based on the idea that the other person is wrong.
For example, a lazy teenager may face an angry outburst from a parent, rebuking them for their slack attitude, only to respond by thinking they are the victim of an angry parent. Being able to fault the other party is a great trick for absolving ourselves of responsibility for what we need to change.
“Change my heart, O God” is the cry we take from Psalm 51:10, where David asked God to create a clean heart within him. Another prayer that was often sung in the Charismatic Revival days was “Open my eyes, Lord” (Psalm 119:18, Ephesians 1:18). We all need our eyes opened and our hearts changed.
This is linked to the Truth setting us free.
“You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32
When we believe the lies we tell ourself, following the way that seems right to us, we are enslaved to a path to destruction. Only when we face truth, allowing it to impact our heart and mind, accepting things we don’t want to accept, can we break that cycle of death and walk a path of life and freedom.
In my own experience I recognise a comfort zone, where what I believe is maintained, and which I am reluctant to move outside of. In my early Christian experience, as God challenged me about things, I initially resisted God vigorously, justifying myself and comparing myself with others.
“God, there are many people worse than me, so pick on them.”
God persisted and I finally began to admit to Him things I did not want to acknowledge. My pride was a huge problem, afraid that I might be much less worthy than I wanted to be, so clinging to my nice ideas about myself as if my life depended on it.
Only as I grew in confidence in God’s amazing love for me did I let go of some of my strongly held ideas about myself and face the fact that I was weak, foolish, irresponsible, and likely to be of no value to people, in the confidence that I didn’t have to prove myself worthy. God loves me just the way I really am, so I can then face the truth about who I really am, without fear that the truth will somehow disqualify me or penalise me.
As I worked through that I entered into greater freedom.
So that experience informs me what to expect as God taps me on the shoulder about other things I need to face up to. I recall coming to the conclusion that if my mentors pointed out things they saw as needing attention I would take the position of ‘guilty’ before trying to justify myself. I would rather try to clean up a problem that wasn’t there than to keep a problem that was there.
Israel’s King David had a heart after God, yet he belligerently pursued paths that were destructive to him at times. God persisted in bringing truth to him until he gave in and cried out to God for cleansing (see Psalm 51). So it is possible for all of us, like David, to close our ears to God at times.
May the Lord be gracious to you and continue to prompt you about things you need to let go of, and ideas you need to abandon, so you can escape the negative outcomes you are bringing on yourself.
May you stop thinking How Right We Are and wonderfully receive God’s truth and be set free. In fact, may you live in God’s freedom.