«The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?» (Jeremiah 1 7:9)
Do you consider yourself an honest and reliable person? Are you honest even when you know you could get hurt? Many religious people would firmly answer «yes» to these questions. However, researchers David De Steno and Piercarlo Valdesolo of the Northeastern University in Boston, have questioned people’s honesty by saying that most of people show hypocritical attitudes. warned that we can’t even trust ourselves. To test this hypothesis, they carried out a series of studies where the subjects performed some morally questionable acts and afterwards judged the same acts performed by others.
In one of the study, for example, the participants had to toss a coin in the air to determine if they had to perform a pleasant task or an unpleasant one. Since the subjects did the tossing of the coin «alone,» without knowing that they were being observed, 90% of the subjects flipped the coin several times until they got the result they wanted. Though they had previously declared that cheating on the task would be immoral, they still deemed their own actions as fair and reliable. Then, when they had to evaluate other people who committed the same fraud, they were able to identify the deception and condemned this behavior as immoral.
It is interesting to note that the main purpose of these investigations had nothing to do with the ability of correctly identifying other person’s wrongdoing or identifying immoral acts in others. Rather, it focused on being honest with one’s self-judgment, since people tend to erase their faults in their minds and project them on others.
The Bible tells us that King David condemned a rich man for taking the only sheep the poor man had without realizing that he himself had taken his fellowman’s wife after having him killed (2 Sam. 12). Pharisees accused Jesus of violating Jewish traditions without being aware that they themselves were violating the law of Moses when they planned to take His life (John 11:45-57).
Understanding human fallibility and being somewhat worried, the Psalmist exclaimed, «Who can understand his errors?» (Ps. 19:12). It is encouraging to know that we can still raise our eyes to the sky and pray to God: «Cleanse me from secret faults» (v. 12).
If we really want to be honest, we must examine our inclinations and tendencies, and admit our great need of a Savior. Only Jesus Christ can show us our true condition.