At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes:Proverbs 21:2
But the Lord pondereth the hearts.
The first part of this proverb should be self-evident, but it is surprising how many people miss it. Every man thinks he is right. In fact, this is what it means to think.
I don’t believe that I am always right, but I always believe I am right. Believing that what you believe is right is another way of saying that you believe it. If we take a few steps back to look at ourselves, we know and acknowledge that we have often been wrong, but the reason we were wrong is that we didn’t think so at the time. So we know that we are not always right, but while we are doing it, we always think we are right.
Confusion enters when people assume that this is a problem that “some” people have. No, this is the condition of every man. Everyone, if thinking, thinks he is right. When I have had people come to confront me with the problem of my cock-sureness, they did not undertake that difficult task because they thought they were wrong about it.
And so, confronted with this dilemma, a number of modern milquetoasts have retreated into a dogmatic minimalism. They think they can escape this dilemma by reducing the number of their dogmatic convictions to almost zero. The problem is that this itself is quite the dogmatic conviction. They think this, do they? Someone has somewhere defined a liberal as someone who is incapable of taking up his own side in an argument.
But let us return to the problem of bombastic self-assurance, which was the target of this particular proverb. Every man—conservative, liberal, and moderate—is right in his own eyes. The statement that is made in the second half of the proverb is that the Lord knows the real story. He knows the story we are weaving for ourselves, and He also knows all the various motives and concerns that we have tucked away in the various cupboards of our hearts. He knows, and He ponders it.
And so it would appear that the only real way of escape from self-deception is to be close friends with the one who could tell us the truth at any time.