Excuse me, but is there a stick in my eye? Part 4
"Define yourself by your intentions and others by their actions."
[Click here to read part 1]
[Click here to read part 2]
[Click here for part 3]
"No one is good-no one in all the world is innocent." Romans 3:10
In the last post I explained how it is difficult for us to clearly see ourselves the way others see us. I also said there are "gates" inside of us put there by society that keep our own self image intact without an overload of self-insight.
But what are these gates? How can we open them enough to gain some kind of insight into who we are? Well, here is a partial list as I see it. Any others that you have, comment below or drop me an email.
I remember being astounded when I heard author Edwin Cole say "We judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions." All the time we tell ourselves, "Sure, I made a mistake, but I didn't mean to do it, I'm a good person." While it's true that everyone misses it from time to time, but habitual actions define who we are. It may be possible to feel justified even though your actions define you as a totally different person, but it takes a lot of mental energy and you will become more and more out of touch with who you really are.
"The world is fair and just and everyone receives what they deserve."
I remember spending 3 years teaching fifth and sixth grade Sunday School. Week after week, I would here the same complaint, "That's not fair!" and week after week, I would do my best to remind them, "LIFE IS NOT FAIR...". They never got it.
But even adults I know still believe this. They think that the world has some sort of internal system of weights and balances that makes sure that everyone gets what they deserve. They believe if you work hard and go to school you will undoubtedly succeed. Because everyone is treated well according to their abilities and not such arbitrary factors as appearance, race and age.
Wrong. All Wrong. This paradigm will disappoint you again and again. From a sociological standpoint, people always separate themselves into different groups and classes no matter and show preferential treatment to their own group no matter what our constitution says. From an evangelical standpoint, the bible says that Satan is the god of this world system. Good people are not always treated well, and bad people sometimes get all the goodies. The great thing is that God loves us even though we are all bad. Prosperity, and everything going well for you does not mean you are living your life right-in fact, it could mean the opposite.
"Emotions are reliable guides-you are justified if you feel good about yourself."
Did you ever think about people like Hitler and Jim Jones, what they felt about what they were doing to mankind when they murdered people? I know you may be saying "I'm not a mass murderer, those guys were insane!". But the fact that the human mind can be changed in such a way that mass murder is a seen as a good thing means we all have to be careful. While some people may be affected by chemical imbalances that need help, the majority of our emotions are a result of how we interpret the perceptions of our senses, and what values we form about the world around us.
Without the foundation of some kind of established wisdom, we are all subject to define our place in the world by a looser code of the jungle. We all know that the norms and morays of society are not always based on real truth-more often they are based on the rules of those that want to control who we are and what we do.
I'm sure all of you don't see the bible as your ultimate truth, nor am I trying to convert all of you. But I believe that finite truth exists in the world, and whatever it is, it remains the mirror for our actions. The idea of right and wrong existing in the vacuum of our emotions separate from truth is highly unlikely. Our conscience may be a compass, but without the map of truth, we can still lose our way in this world.
In conclusion, we are all going to have some blind spots in our lives. But the biggest way to not be ignorant of who we are is to care and want to change. Jesus explained to his disciples that he used parables so that his truth was made available to those with an open seeking heart, and not to those who did not want to change, with hard calloused hearts.
Thanks for reading-I'll try to write some light stuff after this.