by Jake Moore
When I was a kid I was good at a lot of things. I was a straight A student, an outstanding athlete, and because I was quiet and respectful most adults thought I was a great kid. As a result, I had no shortage of people telling me how great I was or how much they appreciated this or that about me or how many awesome things I would accomplish in my life. Needless to say, I had a rather healthy self-image.
Most people will tell you that it is a positive thing to have good self-esteem, but in my case I think it had some consequences that I had difficulty noticing. Without really understanding what had happened, I started to get this idea that I was in a pretty good spot up there on my high horse and I began to evaluate things. I filtered everything through my own ideas of right and wrong and good and bad and I got pretty good at noticing the smallest shred of weakness in others. The trouble is I was terrible at seeing those same weaknesses in my own life.
The Bible says “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves” – yikes. How terrifying to think that on top of everything else that can go wrong in life we can even deceive ourselves?! It would be nice if I could at least count on myself to be on my own side. But like usual, the Bible cuts through all the clutter and gives us a glimpse into reality because we absolutely do have an amazing ability to deceive ourselves. This verse tells us that one of the ways we do this is merely listening to the word – evaluating it, keeping it at arm’s length, but making sure that it doesn’t get close enough to be painful, to show us how much work we still have to do. You see, we are enamored with learning but far less interested in doing. Because learning is easy. Doing is not.
The last part of that verse is almost painfully blunt: “Do what it says.” It’s almost like God knew that we would all become sermon evaluators instead of taking the time to evaluate what is going on in our own hearts and lives. Everyone is always an expert at what other people should do, but no one evaluates his or her own life to see if it lines up with what God expects. Evaluating others is easy. Admitting that I have a problem with anger is not.
I think I’ve made a sort of breakthrough in the past few months, and it all came back to one simple question I kept asking: “Am I being completely honest with myself?” Believe me, there is something very freeing about getting rid of the idea that I’ve somehow arrived or that I’m in good shape spiritually. Reality is a little more daunting, but in some ways much more comfortable. I’ve found that when I have the courage to admit the truth, the truth will set me free. Free to tackle my problems, free to admit that I need God’s help every moment of every day, and free to approach him with an honesty that makes this relationship real. I highly recommend it.