Self-Deception, Honoring God, and the Gospel (Part IV)

Self-deception is a universal problem. For instance, we are prone to believe that we are all above average. Here are some particularly humorous examples to illustrate the point!:

From the academic world:

  • In a survey of faculty at the University of Nebraska, 68% rated themselves in the top 25% for teaching ability.
  • In a similar survey, 87% of MBA students at Stanford University rated their academic performance as above the median.
  • In a 1976 College Board survey of U.S. students taking the SAT, in ratings of leadership ability, 70% of the students put themselves above the median. In ability to get on well with others, 85% put themselves above the median, and 25% rated themselves in the top 1%.

And perhaps closer to home:

  • In a 1981 survey of driving skills, 93% of Americans believed themselves to be in the top 50% of driving safety and skill.

However, from living in Boston, I can testify that 93% of Americans are most certainly not in the top 50% of driving safety and skill.

So self-deception is a common problem. A Life Plan is an opportunity to take off the blinders, examine your life honestly, and set the right priorities for your life.

Let’s look at two more benefits of a life plan: honoring God and remembering the gospel.

Your Life Plan Will Lead You to Honor God

Apart from God’s guidance, each of us is naturally inclined to live for ourselves. The Apostle Paul, when he was commending Timothy to the church at Philippi, wrote,

For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know Timothy’s proven worth… (Philippians 2:20-22a).

Out of all those associated with Paul, Timothy was one-of-a-kind, with a unique commitment to serving others.

In today’s world, perhaps 85% of us believe we are above average at getting along with others, and 25% of us think we are in the top 1%. In other words, self-deception leads us to believe that we are basically good people and that our default choices are simply terrific.

But in actual fact, very few of us wholeheartedly live for the welfare of others.

The development and use of a life plan is an opportunity to humbly restructure our lives so that we are “genuinely concerned” for the glory of God and the benefit of others.

Apart from a challenging Life Plan our default tendency is to drift into self-serving self-deception.

So, when working on our Life Plan, we should seek out the input of trusted friends (and if married, our spouses) to guard against our blind spots. Writing a personal Life Plan is an invaluable opportunity to repent of selfishness and self-centeredness so that we might adopt godly priorities in our daily lives.

It Reminds You of the Gospel

Here’s two quick questions for your self-evaluation:

  • How often do you think about the gospel?
  • When was the last time the gospel renewed your perspective and decisions at home or at work?

Many Christians think the gospel is a message for nonChristians, with no relevance to the hard work of becoming like Christ. This is a huge misunderstanding that needs to be corrected. Without a growing understanding of the gospel and its relevance to all of our challenges, our spiritual growth will stall out. (For more on this crucial topic, I recommend Tim Keller’s The Prodigal God).

A Life Plan is an opportunity to integrate gospel thinking into your daily life.

For instance, in J.D. Greear’s book The Gospel, he encourages his readers to daily pray what he calls “The Gospel Prayer”:

In Christ, there is nothing I can do that would make You love me more,
and nothing I have done that makes You love me less.
Your presence and approval are all I need for everlasting joy.
As You have been to me, so I will be to others.
As I pray, I’ll measure Your compassion by the cross and Your power by the resurrection.

That’s a great prayer! By including this prayer, or something like it, into your Life Plan, you can greatly develop your ability to focus on the gospel in your daily life.

Questions For Reflection

Take this post one step further and reflect on its meaning for your life:

  • Where do you struggle with self-deception? (Don’t answer ‘I don’t’!).
  • What do you see as some potential consequences of an unexamined life?
  • How could a Life Plan enable you to honor God and remember the gospel?