Our Bible verse for today: “If we say, ‘We have no sin,’ we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Be truthful with yourself.”
I’m always amazed at our capacity for self-deception. We lie to ourselves much more than we lie to other people. We convince ourselves of all sorts of things that simply are not true. We tell ourselves we are better than we really are, or worse than we really are. We believe things about other people that aren’t true. We also explain-away and rationalize all sorts of bad behavior that we shouldn’t engage in but which we convince ourselves is really okay or isn’t a big deal.
We justify, rationalize, diminish, obscure, and go to great lengths to make things appear different to ourselves than they really are. Yes, we lie to ourselves much more than we lie to other people.
One of the greatest and most memorable lines about self-deception that has ever been written came from the pen of play writer and poet William Shakespeare. In his play “Hamlet” one of the characters famously counseled another, “This above all: to thine own self be true.” He meant that there is nothing more important than being honest and truthful with yourself, because if you aren’t, you have then deceived yourself. You have lied to yourself and you are now living a lie. Your decisions, your actions, and your dealings with other people will be based upon false assumptions about them and about yourself.
In 1 John 1:8 the Apostle addressed one of the most common forms of self-deception people tend to engage in – we sin but we either convince ourselves that our actions aren’t really wrong, or we shrug it off and minimize it. Doing that is self-destructive. It will always lead to bad results, and it might be the beginning of an extended pattern of sin that becomes habitual.
John’s words are intended to convict us about our thinking, speaking, and conduct. We are not to deceive ourselves. We are not to excuse wrong actions. We must be brutally honest with ourselves and we are to hold ourselves to the highest possible standards.
As Shakespeare urged in his play, be true to yourself. Don’t lie to yourself and don’t deceive yourself. Tell yourself the truth.