This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. – 1 John 1:5-10
Leadership and Self Deception is a book by the Arbinger Institute. The authors make the case that when we blame others for the challenges we face (“bad boss, no cooperation, bitter co-worker,” etc.) we end up deceiving ourselves, which they call putting ourselves “in the box.” In that mindset, they point out we…
- Inflate other’s faults
- Inflate our own virtue
- Inflate the value of things that justify our self-deception; and
- Blame others.
Those seem to be important insights. They shed some light and add some specificity to the impact of our actions or mindset toward others. What we think about someone else impacts us and them in ways beyond the obvious.
As John talks about this, however, he isn’t talking just about how people relate to each other at work. That’s important and worthy of our consideration in itself. But even more important is our relationship with God, and how that works itself out in our relationship with others. For we may be able to deceive our co-worker, neighbor, or even a close family member; and shame on us if we do so. Eventually, however, we will be found out. Our neighbors will see behind the smoke screen we put up. Our family and friends will see behind the walls we hide behind. In the end, we only deceive ourselves. We cannot deceive God.
An attitude of humility before God will also be shown in our attitude toward others. This is the key of having any kind of impact in the lives of others. If we approach others in an attitude of humility, we will more easily gain entry into their hearts and lives. Of course that requires humility on the part of others as well. But if there is a spirit of mutual respect and reciprocal humility beautiful things can happen. That is not a dangerous deception. It is a delightful dynamic!