I have listened to many similar stories and I have found out that we are capable of an endless variety of ways of deceiving ourselves. The Bible puts it clearly:
The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? I, the LORD, search the heart. I test the mind, even to give each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds (Jeremiah 17:9-10).
Knowing that our hearts are deceitful, and knowing that God will search our hearts and test our minds, it is only logical to continuously submit our choices to the test.
But how? The psalmist gives a clue:
Search me, o God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way (Psalm 139:23-24).
James says it also:
But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was (James 1:22-24).
You can know your heart, if you allow the Lord to show you yourself reflected in His Word. On the basis of what you see, you can act on His instructions:
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon (Isaiah 55:7).
The apostle John points the way to a carefree life:
Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and in truth. We shall know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him, in whatever our heart condemns us: for God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight (1 John 3:18-22).
SOME GUIDELINES TO HELP
The Bible gives some guidelines for making choices:
1. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Jesus said:
And just as you want men to treat you, treat them in the same way (Luke 6:31).
This is the so-called Golden Rule. It requires serious self-study, rather than concentration on figuring out someone else.
How would you like to be treated?
Would you like others to make an effort to find out what pleases you?
Would you like others (when they find out what pleases you) to defer to your wishes rather than theirs when there is a difference of opinion?
Do you mind being deceived or lied to?
Would you rather serve or be served?
Do you mind if people say one thing to you and another when you aren’t there?
According to the Golden Rule, we are to treat others as we would like to be treated rather than try to second-guess the other person. Come to think of it, that’s good news for the other person.
2. Be a leader. The apostle Paul says:
The things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you (Philippians 4:9).
A first reading of this verse gives us the impression that it is a hopelessly egotistical and impossible statement. On second thought, what a wonderful goal! Imagine, living your life in such a fashion that anyone who pays close attention to you finds the God of peace is with them because they follow what they learn, receive, hear, and see from you. They, like you, are making choices that are commendable, positive, and wholesome. Such a description of yourself is surely a firm foundation for building your self-respect, your self-love.
3. Make choices as though the Lord were beside you—thankfully. The apostle Paul says:
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father (Colossians 3:17).
A moment’s reflection, and you realize the presence of your boss, a policeman, or even a stranger in your home is enough reason to pay careful attention to your behavior. Imagine how careful you would be if the Lord were with you.
Such choices—within the limits of His commandments—would surely result in a thankful spirit. You would be thankful because your choices are building your own self-respect.
4. Carry out your choices heartily, and desire to please God.
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve (Colossians 3:23-24).
There is nothing more frustrating than doing things reluctantly, unwillingly. Boredom is one of our nation’s greatest plagues.
Sooner or later, everyone is faced with tasks to do that you would rather not do. There are chores, housekeeping, errands, duties at work or at church—to name a few.
Has it ever occurred to you how many nostrils and throats a physician examines in a day? Or how many mouths a dentist peers into in a day? There is no need to pity these people. If they have a healthy response to their work, they accept the routine along with the glory.
All of us have no choice about many of the duties we must perform. Everyone can ask God for a hearty spirit toward the task if he wants to.
How wonderful to enjoy what you are doing—to do it heartily—to do it as an act of worship! This is true whether your work is at the desk, at the bench, in the shop, behind a podium, in the home.