You are not the expert on you.
Now, in one sense, you are an expert on you. You alone know your secret thoughts, dreams, desires, etc. You alone are privy to information that others cannot know unless you tell them. You have insider information.
However, there is a real sense in which you are not the expert on you. In fact, you are vulnerable to being quite wrong about you. You are are in constant danger of being deceived about you by you. The Bible has something to say about this phenomena, “self-deception” (Psalm 36:1-4; 1 John 1:8; James 1:22; Revelation 3:17). The prophet Jeremiah hit the nail on the head when he said, “The heart is deceitfully wicked above all things, who can know it (Jeremiah 17:9). In short, the most dangerous liar to be wary of is yourself.
Our Inner PR Person
How does that work? How do we deceive ourselves? How can we be wrong about us? How can I be wrong about me?” The idea is, that although we may know “the facts,” about ourselves, we aren’t always accurate in the way we interpret those facts. We all have a little PR person in our souls who labors to put a positive spin on everything we think, feel, say, and do. It looks something like this:
No, you’re not lazy, you just work hard and need a little time.
Yes, you may have gotten a little out of hand, but they provoked you.
No, you’re not inconsiderate, you’re misunderstood.
Yes, you may have hurt them deeply, but they had it coming.
No, you’re not unproductive, your boss is just too demanding.
No, you’re not a bad listener, they are.
No, you’re not addicted, you are in control.
No, you’re not insensitive, you’re honest.
This is the impressive work of our inner-PR-person. Spin, spin, spin.
Unfortunately, instead of realizing this and pursuing a true view of self, we tend to support the spin by surrounding ourselves with those we trust to confirm it. We reinforce the messages of our inner PR-person by enlisting the help of others who will always agree with our opinions (spin). With this impressive system, we put ourselves in an almost unnoticeable (and therefore unchangeable) place of never truly seeing ourselves. But the truth is, although we think we are the experts of ourselves, we only end up believing self-propaganda. In our carefully crafted and defended world we are always in the right and others in the wrong. We think we are the experts, but in actuality, we are actually the deceived.
How is one to avoid such a dangerous place? By clinging to three things…
There is nothing that should make us distrust our hearts like God’s Word. As I quoted above, the Bible tells us that our hearts are deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus Himself, “did not entrust himself to (people), because he knew all people” (John 2:24). Now there is something to be said about having a new heart through our new birth in Christ, but even as new creations, we are still greatly vulnerable to self-deception if we do not daily look to and heed God’s Word. The plentiful examples of godly people not realizing their own blind spots or initiating their own repentance of sin should make us wary of self. Additionally, the Scriptures show that our hearts are a battlefield where our flesh and spirit ceaselessly war against one another. According to Scripture, we are unable to be an unbiased or unblinded observer/assessor of self. We need God to turn the lights on and help us see ourselves in His mirror. Only when we are searching and applying the Scriptures do we have hope of silencing our inner PR-person and stopping the spin. However, there is another essential thing the self-deceived need in order to get a true view of themselves.
Even with God’s Word in hand we can still deceive ourselves by letting our PR-person do the exegesis and application. When we handle the Word in isolation, we tend to make applications for everyone else instead of ourselves. This is why God’s people are essential in cutting through our own smoke and helping us see ourselves as we actually are. Other godly people can see things in us that we are often blind to. One time recently, I was in a meeting where I spouted off on a particular topic I was passionate about. In my zeal, I said things in unnecessarily sharp and hurtful ways. I believed in what I said and I believed I was acting off good intentions, but my tone was undiscerning and counterproductive. Now, I would have gone on not thinking twice about it unless a brother-in-Christ, who was present at the meeting, came to me and humbly explained what he (and others) saw. At that moment, he offered me a chance to see the situation without the spin. He offered me a true view myself in that moment. In being a friend to my soul, he opposed my PR-person and brought me the truth. Without friends like that in our lives, we are without hope and doomed to live in the darkness of our own deceit.
It is here where I am very concerned for a lot of Christians. Many Christians don’t have a relationship with others in their church who know them well enough to love them by telling them the truth. If our church interaction is reserved simply for Sundays then we will never give others the chance to know us and help us know ourselves. Without the church helping us see ourselves, we let our inner PR-person go uncontested and we will end up living in a life where everyone else knows our flaws except us.
The only way we will be prone to listen to the (sometimes) hard truths God’s Word or God’s people have for us is when we see ourselves in the light of the gospel. Those who have been forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ have no reason to hide in their sin or to carry on a (false) perfectionist view of themselves. The gospel teaches us all that we are sinners deserving of wrath, but now through faith in Christ we are God’s beloved children, forgiven, and holy in His eyes. We have nothing to prove and we have no face to save. We can agree with God and others about our shortcomings and blind spots. Through the gospel, we can fire our inner PR-person since our value in God’s eyes and our security in God’s love is not based on our performance, but on Christ’s performance for us (Colossians 1:21-22; 1 Peter 3:18; Hebrews 10:10, 14; Titus 2:11-14; Ephesians 2:8-9). We no longer have to spin anything if we live in the perfect work of Christ. Life under the cross is a no-spin zone.
So friends, hear this: you are not the expert on you.
Read and heed God’s Word and plant yourself in relationship with God people, and see yourself in God’s gospel. When God says something about you, listen. When others tell you what they see in you (whether encouragement or correction), listen. For you are no longer darkness, but have been made into light; so live in it. Fire your inner PR-person and listen to your Savior. Strive to live all your life in the no-spin zone.