Be true to yourself today. I don’t mean “be who you are because you’re a special snow flake and you deserve the world”. That’s what secular humanism will tell you. “You can be anything you want, just dream it and believe it, name it and claim it, if it’s gonna be it’s up to me”. I don’t mean to just look within to find the answers, I mean be honest with yourself today. Speak the truth to yourself and realize that an honest answer is like a kiss on the lips. Give yourself an honest answer today. Be True to yourself. If we are honest with ourselves we will have to admit that we are our own biggest enemies. No one has lied to you more than you’ve lied to you. No one has put you in more crappy situations more often than you have. You are for sure your own worst enemy, let’s be honest.
The world will tell you to look within to find the keys to life, to success, to spirituality, to basically all your problems. But you are the problem. The problem is that you’ve been your own blind guide your whole life. Looking in deeper for answers will give you even more of what you’ve already got plus a whole lot more frustration. I was set free from myself a couple years ago and my hope is that God will use this post to set someone else free from their own worst enemy too.
Our relationship with truth is a funny one. We love the truth… but not as much as we love flattery. As John Calvin says in his Institutes: “There is nothing our mind desires more than to be wooed by honeyed words and flattery”. Many of my fellow attention starved loud mouths will give a hearty amen to Calvin’s words but maybe some of you hard core introverts aren’t convinced yet. You may be saying “I don’t like attention at all, let alone flattery”. I’d say your disdain for attention is you flattering and protecting yourself. You don’t want attention but really it stems from fear of being embarrassed in some way, am I right? You’d rather protect yourself than step out and take a risk. That’s ok if it’s true, I’m just saying I pegged you too haha.
Augustine of Hippo, one of the most important thinkers in western history, describes our love/hate relationship with the truth better than I ever could so I will quote him at length from one of his prayers to God:
“But why does truth engender hatred? Why does your servant meet with hostility when he preaches the truth, although men love happiness, which is simply the enjoyment of truth? It can only be that man’s love of truth is such that when he loves something which is not the truth, he pretends to himself that what he loves is the truth, and because he hates to be proved wrong, he will not allow himself to be convinced that he is deceiving himself. So he hates the real truth for the sake of what he takes to his heart in its place. Men love the truth when it bathes them in its light: they hate it when it proves them wrong. Because they hate to be deceived themselves, but are glad if they can deceive others, they love the truth when it is revealed to them but hate it when it reveals that they are wrong. They reap their just reward, for those who do not wish to stand condemned by the truth find themselves unmasked against their will and also find that truth is denied to them. This is precisely the behavior of the human mind. In its blind inertia, in its abject shame, it loves to lie concealed, yet it wishes that nothing should be concealed from it. It’s reward is just the opposite of its desire, for it cannot conceal itself from the truth, but truth remains hidden from it. Yet even in this wretched state it would still rather find joy in truth than in falsehood. One day, then, it shall be happy, if it learns to ignore all that distracts it and to rejoice in truth, the sole Truth by which all else is true.” (Confessions Book X 23)
This man got it. Now you see why I just had to quote him. Does this quote resinate with you? Don’t we all love the truth when it’s flattering but hate it when it exposes us? That’s part of our sinful nature. We want to know the truth but at a safe enough distance to hide from it when it turns it’s lantern on us. Come on, you know it’s true.
We want people to see our good deeds, but not our bad deeds. Imagine if there was a Twitter account that tweeted every thought you have. How horrified would you be. I shutter to even think about that. The truth is we think we’re good people superficially but deep down if we’re honest, we know we’re in trouble.
My buddy is a great example of this thought process. Once when we were night fishing I asked him if he believes in heaven. He said yes. I asked who goes to heaven, and without flinching he said “good people go to heaven”. Immediately I follow with “are you a good person” and he said the most typical response ever: “I mean I’m not the best person in the world but yeah, I’m a pretty good person”. Again, if we’re honest, most of us would say those same words. But then I asked him what the criteria for being a good person is and that’s when the truth started washing over my friend for the first time. His criteria for a good person was: 1. A good person is someone people like to be around 2. A good person provides for their family 3. A good person is someone who isn’t a scumbag. So again I followed up with a few more questions: have you ever been a person that people don’t like to be around? Yes. Have you ever been unable to provide for your family? Yes. Have you ever been a scumbag? He became a lawyer and asked: what do you mean by a scumbag? I said bro you said it you tell me. He said a scumbag is someone… Yeah I’ve been a scumbag. He could have say anything but he gave me his definition of a good person and he couldn’t live up to it.
My friend’s honesty testifies to the validity of Romans 2:14-16 “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus”.
God gave us all a conscience and because of sin we have marred that conscience in different areas which gives rise to all sorts of inconsistencies. With all the distractions we have today it’s much easier for us to hide from the truth and pacify our wounded consciences. Stop falling asleep while watching Netflix and give thought to those nagging questions before bed. Turn off the music in your car long enough to give thought to your thoughts. Be real with yourself about yourself.
I think If we’re honest we’ll realized we’re not as good as we let on. We know we are in need of salvation. Salvation from what? From ourselves. We are broken sinful people and we need some one to save us. God broke through the obstacles I built up to hide from his truth. He flooded my life with light and exposed me to the Truth which is Jesus Christ and the Truth has set me free. I pretended to be a lot of things but God saw through my garbage, and pulled me out of my own filth. while I was still a sinner Christ died for me. He loved me as I was but loved me too much to keep me there. I used to enjoy being puffed up. I wanted to hear how good I was. Now, in a crazy turn of events, I love hearing the truth and I confess that there is no good in me apart from what God has begun and is continuing. I can say with the Apostle Paul that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” and that’s why I can say with confidence that if he can save me, he can save you too. If your heart has been pricked even the slightest please give serious thought to why that is today. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through him, but all who call on him will be saved. Turn and believe the good news today, because he lives we can live also.