Are You Fooling Yourself?

Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who's the fairest of them all?Apparently the Wicked Queen of Disney's Snow White is not the only deluded person. In their book, Switch, social scientists Chip and Dan Heath point out that self-deception is endemic to the human race.

We've all heard the studies showing that the vast majority of us consider ourselves above-average drivers. In the psychology literature, their belief is known as a positive illusion. Our brains are positive illusion factories: Only 2 percent of high school seniors believe their leadership skills are below average. A full 25 percent of people believe they're in the top 1 percent in their ability to get along with others. Ninety-four percent of college professors report doing above-average work. People think they're at lower risk than their peers for heart attacks, cancer, and even food-related illnesses such as salmonella. Most deliciously self-deceptive of all, people say they are more likely than their peers to provide accurate self-assessments. (Chip Heath and Dan Heath, Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, page 114)

In stark contrast to Queen Illusion, God tells us to take an honest assessment of ourselves. Paul writes,

"For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;"1

There is no room for high-mindedness and exaggerated opinions among believers in Jesus. The reason? Grace! When a Christian holds up a mirror to take inventory of her gifts, she recognizes them as just that -- gifts from God.

In Greek, the language of Paul's day, the word for "gifts" is CHARISMATA, the root of which is CHARIS, the word translated "grace" in the passage above. Christians are given grace gifts from the unmerited kindness and good will of our gracious God. So there is no fooling ourselves when we look in the mirror. What do we have that we have not been given? That's why we don't even have to ask the Queen's question. We already know the answer.

"Who's the fairest of all?" Why, the Grace-giver of course!


1Romans 12:3-6 ESV