Thank you Melissa Spoelstra for today’s message.
“Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.” Psalm 119:29
As I’m processing a recent conflict with a family member, I’m trying to sort out the fact and fiction in my own head. I usually feel like my truth is the truth, but I know my tendency to equate my perspective with truth is shortsighted. In my daily Bible reading, I just happened to encounter the verse in Today’s Truth, or more likely God sovereignly had it before my eyes right when I would need it!
In this verse, the psalmist prayed that God would help him not to lie to himself. I know I need to pray this type of prayer on a regular basis. Whether I’m justifying myself in a parenting decision, making judgments about others’ choices, or working through a relational conflict, I know I’m biased. I tend to think of each situation based on my perceptions of others’ actions, words, and attitudes. I have one side of the story and it is mine. How about you? Have you noticed that we can all tell ourselves lies at times and not even realize it?
Culture is sending us messages that stand in contrast to the teachings of Jesus. He said to seek purity, forgive, and serve. The world celebrates scandal, revenge, and being served. If I don’t ask God to help me live in truth, I can easily find wrong thinking creeping into my head. The danger comes when we tell lies about ourselves, it can lead us to tell lies about God. I can also lose the ability to see things from another person’s perspective. These are some pretty heavy consequences. So what can we do?
This verse gives us two practical helps when it comes to lying to ourselves:
Admit it. The psalmist knew it was a tendency so he implored God to help him. In the same way, we can confess that we don’t have the corner on truth. In his letter to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul talked about spiritual pride and then remarked, “My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.” (1 Corinthians 4:4) In the same way, Jesus taught that we should be careful of making surface conclusions. He said, “Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.” (John 7:24) So we begin by admitting that we might be lying to ourselves. We need God’s help to see situations clearly.
Pray specifically about lying to ourselves. The book of Psalms is a prayer book. In it we read personal pleas for help. In the same way, we can cry out to the Lord asking Him to keep us from lying to ourselves.
Study God’s Instructions. After the psalmist asks God to keep him from lying to himself, he then says, “give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.” Knowing God’s Word can help us speak truth to ourselves. The more we press into the Bible by reading, studying, and memorizing it, the more we align ourselves with truth. This can expose any lies we’ve been telling ourselves about what we deserve or how our poor reactions were justified. God’s Word lays us bare. 2 Timothy 3:16 describes it this way, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” The privilege of knowing God’s instructions helps us to realize what is wrong including the lies we tell ourselves.
I’m not sure what conversations you’ve been having with yourself lately, but I wonder if like me you sometimes confuse your truth with the truth as you process life. Our perspectives matter, but we need God’s help to be sure we aren’t lying to ourselves