The Pit of Self-Reliance

Proverbs 16:2 (ESV)
"All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit."

We all possess an ability to distort what we see in the mirror at times: especially when it is concerning our inner self. While we are quick to see the various faults of others, we tend to not notice similar actions and behaviors of our own. It is the proverbial plank vs. speck (Matthew 7:5).

Our rose-colored glasses are automatically adorned when we look in a mirror. Pride has colored these lenses, and out of this is born a self-righteousness that can easily infiltrate into every area of our lives and in every interaction with our fellow man. Paul was quick to warn of the habit of thinking too highly of oneself, and to use sober judgment to ward off the evils of self-flattery (Romans 12:3).

Unfortunately, this behavior can lead us down a road where much damage can occur. As we raise our self-image beyond what is truth and fact, we open the door to placing one’s self above others and in doing so, move our focal point of existence from helping others to maintaining our esteem of self (Philippians 2:1-4).

This shift of focus runs contrary to Scripture, primarily in how it affects our spiritual growth. The grace we have received must not just be passed on, but poured out on others from the very fountain of humility that should spring from a heart transformed (Ephesians 2:10; 2 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 1:5-8). When we instead choose to “puff ourselves up”, such spiritual growth is no longer possible.

Worse, we can develop an insulation against the need for repentance. We see our faults and transgressions as minor compared to others and therefore not worthy of confessing. Continuing in this state will ultimately lead us to a place where see no reason to repent, because we don’t feel lost in the first place. Look back on the Pharisee Luke wrote of in Luke 18:11-12 and review the lesson learned.

So how do we get out of this trap?

Recognize first that God is not deceived. We may hide behind our self-flattering ways with our fellow man, but God looks beyond such frailty and examines the heart (Proverbs 21:2; 1 Samuel 16:7).

Knowing that we cannot hide from God our innermost thoughts and desires should be enough to put us in our proper place. Unfortunately, the proud man may not reach such a state of sobriety without first encountering a fall. Rest assured, correction will come (Hebrews 12:6).

And if it does not come in this lifetime, then it was most certainly not due to our Father trying to reach you; but rather it was because you were too blinded to recognize His actions out of sheer self-reliance.

And now you find yourself face to face with Christ, and you must give an answer why.