Are you sure you see yourself — especially your faults — the way God does?
By John A. Halford
The Good News, March 1983 [Link]
Before you read this article, hold this magazine about 12 inches in front of you so that the black dot on the opposite page is level with your right eye. Cover the other eye with your hand.
Now look straight at the dot and, keeping the page 12 inches from your face, move the page slowly around your head to the right.
Did you notice that at a certain point the black dot disappears? Then, when you move the page farther to the right, the dot reappears before finally moving completely out of your field of vision.
There is a point in your eye where the optic nerve enters the eyeball. Because there is no retina (the inner surface of the eye) at this point, no vision can be registered. For this reason, this part of the eye is called the “blind spot.” When the image of the black dot passed over the blind spot, you could not see it.
The blind-spot area is so small that normal eye movements compensate for it. In the course of your daily activity you don’t even notice it. Nevertheless, it is a fact that there are two small areas, one in each eye, where even a person with perfect vision is completely blind.
Now read on.
The Bible commands God’s begotten children to examine themselves each year at this time, so that they do not take the Passover unworthily (I Cor. 11:27-29). After examining yourself, when you take the symbols of Christ’s sacrifice you rededicate yourselves to overcoming the many faults that you have seen are still there. But what about the ones that you have not seen?
You have just proved that you have a physical blind spot. But could you perhaps have a spiritual blind spot — an area, or areas, where you just cannot see?
The Bible tells us that this is exactly the situation. Look at Psalm 19:12. David wrote: “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.” What did David mean by his “secret faults”?
King David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). He did not show a hostile attitude toward God, and he tried hard to change whenever he could see that he was wrong. But notice that I said whenever he could see that he was wrong. He couldn’t always see it.
David stole Bathsheba, another man’s wife, and made her pregnant. After conniving and cheating in an attempt to avoid the consequences, he finally arranged to have Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, killed in battle.
But, incredible as it seems, David did not see how terribly wrong that whole episode was until the prophet Nathan brought him to his senses (II Samuel, chapters 11 and 12). The whole miserable episode showed King David that he had some serious blind spots in his character.
But don’t judge David too harshly. For perhaps you, too, have spiritual blind spots — areas where you just can’t see how, where and why you are wrong. Sometimes it is hard enough to recognize and admit the problems you can see. So how do you go about overcoming those that you cannot?
In Psalm 139:23-24 David wrote, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” In other words, you must ask God to show you the things that you cannot see.
How will God do this? Let’s look at some of the ways.
First, God can teach you through personal Bible study.
Hebrews 4:12 says that God’s Word is sharper than a “two-edged sword” and can penetrate through layers of resistance to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. The stories and examples of the Bible show how God dealt with the thoughts and intents of many men and women, both righteous and unrighteous.
The great Elijah, we are told, was a man who had the same human nature that we have (Jas. 5:17). Sometimes Elijah showed great faith, but he was also, from time to time, the victim of discouragement. Moses, the meekest of all men (Num. 12:3), had moments of stubbornness and even bad temper. The prophet Jeremiah more than once felt like giving up. Paul and Barnabas quarreled. Yet all these qualified for the Kingdom of God.
Study the examples in your Bible. Ask God, through His Holy Spirit, to teach you about yourself as you read. But remember this: If you start to see something wrong, admit it. A main characteristic of a converted person is willingness to admit when he is wrong, and then repent. If you intend to justify your faults, you may as well not bother to look for them.
But Bible study is not the only way to locate your blind spots. You know the old saying, “If we could see ourselves as others see us … ” Well, we can.
Look at Romans 2:1: “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.” We can often see our own faults more clearly in other people.
Think about this. If there is a certain type of behavior that you find especially irritating in others, you may have that same problem yourself. It’s just that you can’t see it when you do it.
When God sent Nathan to show David his sin with Bathsheba, Nathan reported a case in which a rich man who owned many sheep had stolen a poor man’s pet lamb and killed it for a dinner (II Sam. 12:1-4). King David was outraged that anyone should be so greedy and selfish! Such a man must be put to death, David pronounced (verse 5).
Then Nathan quietly pointed out that this was precisely what David had done when he stole the wife of Uriah and then caused Uriah’s death.
What kind of behavior in others angers you most? Is it greed? Selfishness? Aloofness? Or maybe laziness, prejudice, stubbornness or gossip? Think carefully, for in your answer may well be a clue to your own blind spot — “for you who judge practice the same things.”
God can also reveal your blind spot to you through circumstances.
Jesus said, “With what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matt. 7:2). In other words, God will often see to it that you are treated the way you treat other people.
Jacob was a young man of great talent and ability, but he had a serious fault: He would lie, connive and scheme to get his own way, without a thought for other people’s feelings.
Jacob deceived his father Isaac into blessing him, instead of his brother Esau, with the birthright. That incident split up the family and caused much suffering and ill will (Gen. 27).
God, of course, fully intended Jacob to have the birthright and could have worked it out in a way that nobody got hurt. But this was not the first time that Jacob had used cunning to get his own way (Gen. 25:29-34). He had a blind spot and needed to be taught a lesson.
During the next few years Jacob met his match. His employer, Laban, tricked him out of his wages and the wife for whom he had labored seven years. And then, toward the end of his life, Jacob was also deceived by a dead goat, just as he had deceived his father. You remember how Jacob’s sons dipped Joseph’s coat of many colors in the blood of a goat to convince Jacob, that his favorite son, whom they had sold, was dead. Jacob spent many years of grief, deceived as he had deceived others.
Has God allowed hurtful or embarrassing things to be done to you? Has someone you love let you down? Have you been insulted, humiliated or made to feel an outsider, left out of things? Have others hurt your pride or your feelings by gossip? Perhaps there is a lesson in it for you. Are you being given a taste of your own medicine?
At this time of the year, when we think about putting sin out of our lives, it is good to consider what the Bible calls the “leaven” of the Pharisees — hypocrisy (Luke 12:1).
Christ had much to say to the religious leaders of the first century. In Matthew 23:16, He called them “blind guides,” for, in their self-righteousness, they had indeed become blinded to the real needs of those they should have been serving. Time and again, Christ hit the blind spot of these men. When we read about it today, their mistakes are obvious. But they could not see them.
Christ needs to be certain that those He is training to be leaders in the world tomorrow do not make the same mistake. The leaven of hypocrisy did not die with the Pharisees. Does Christ see some of it in you today?
Are you beginning to see that you may indeed have a spiritual blind spot? But when you see it and you realize that others have seen it (and perhaps have suffered because of it) all along, it is embarrassing.
Perhaps you finally begin to understand something that your family and friends have been trying to tell you for years. The natural reaction is to hide it again quickly — just like you can make the little black dot “disappear” by moving it back over your blind spot. But don’t give in to that temptation. Keep the problem in the open, where you can fight it.
David, when showed his sin, told God, “I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me” (Ps. 51:3). Although David never forgot that he was capable of such behavior. He never made a mistake like that again (I Kings 15:5).
This Passover, don’t just be content with a quick review of the faults you know you have. Ask God for help in seeing your “secret” sins as well.