Our Lives are Guided by the Stories We Tell Ourselves

I built a business with two men – one was a long time friend and the other a bit newer.  When we started, we signed paperwork for us all to own 1/3rd of the company.  A year and a half later, I was surprised to find out that after we had built up a steady flow of business, the other two decided to cut me out of ownership, and filed the business ownership under their own names.

This has been difficult for me to react to, but God continues to teach me and provide for us.  In fact, He has rewarded our family in great ways by building even greater professional and financial momentum!

Adversity presents an opportunity to thread together either truthful, or deceptive, narratives we tell ourselves. Will we take ownership, or will we blame?

I’ve learned to trust God through company restructures, re-orgs, and unfair treatment.

I’ve also come to realize that I’m a sinner, sometimes a fool, and that God wants me to be holy – and refinement comes from difficulties.  

God tells us that “the Lord disciplines whom He loves, and He scourges every son whom He receives. “  God isn’t concerned with our comfort, but with improving our relationship with Him and the people He’s entrusted us to love.  Our sin get’s in the way of our relationship with Him, others, and our ability to do great things.

Change, hardship, and adversity are opportunities meant to teach and refine us.

Many times our hardships and adversity are caused by our foolishness and sin.

Saul’s Self Deception & Narratives

Today I was reading about Saul’s pursuit to kill David in 1 Samuel 23 & 24.  Saul is the King, and he’s essentially gone mad with jealousy, self-pity, and spite.  He’s paranoid that David want’s to kill him, when David really wishes that Saul would stop, repent, and relent.

After reading a couple of Saul’s statements today, I came to the realization that we become delusional, unaware, and self-deceived by the story we tell ourselves about things.

The narrative we allow ourselves to hold onto can destroy our ability to live rightly. 

Saul keeps saying things like “finally, someone cares about ME,” and all sorts of self-focused narratives.  He tells himself a story, which has become his truth about the facts – when it’s really his sin that’s causing a giant mess in everyone’s life.

We tell ourselves stories in order to justify our sin – and then we don’t view our behavior, thoughts, or attitudes as sinful.

Think of the stories that you might have told yourself in the past – and how those stories allowed you to delude yourself into justifying or excusing sin.

Typical Self Deception Narratives:

  • My boss is a horrible leader, so I’ll resist their direction.
  • I’ll harbor bitterness about my business partners, because they’ve cheated me.
  • I’ll revel in the failure of someone who screwed me – because they deserved it.
  • I’ll sue my former friend and partner, because they’ve legally cheated me.
  • I’m tired, so i can punish those around me with a bad attitude or outbursts of anger.
  • My spouse refuses to sleep with me often enough, so I’ll use porn.
  • My spouse always nags or complains, so I’ll try to punish them with anger.
  • I’ll spin together a different narrative than the truth, to explain why I was fired.
  • I’ll excuse my poor reaction to adversity, because of how evil and wrong my oppressors are.
  • I’ll excuse my poor decisions and foolishness on the account of the bad stuff that’s happened in my life.

There are so many things in my life that have happened to get me to where I am, and the challenge I see at every turning point is to trust God, reflect on where I was wrong, reconcile where needed, confess my sin, turn from the sin, and move forward in Christ.

What’s the best way to identify the lies we tell ourselves? God’s Word, Godly Friends, and Prayer.

The stories we tell ourselves keep us from moving forward, from living abundantly in Christ, and from building momentum in our lives.

Jesus’ words, proverbs, and the whole word of God is what speaks into our heart, soul, mind and life, to identify the lies we’ve been telling ourselves.

In fact, the best teachings of Jesus was about confronting the lies that we tell ourselves in a sermon he gave which we call the sermon on the mount.

The most powerful tool to identify self-deception in ourselves is the bible.  

The Sermon on the Mount

The sermon on the mount is where Jesus gave some of the toughest, most radical sounding teaching the world ever heard.  

In it, Jesus was teaching that He came not to nullify the 600 laws of the old testament, but to focus them to the purpose of all of our lives – To love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to Love our neighbor as ourselves.  

Think of the list of lies and self deception I wrote above, then read Matthew5:21-48 I’v provided the whole end of the chapter below to read.

Here’s the summary of what Jesus confronts:

  • You know you shouldn’t commit adultery, but according to God’s holy standard, lusting after a woman is adultery in your heart which is just as sinful.
  • You know you shouldn’t commit murder, Jesus say that anger needs to be handled just as murder is – for it is murder in our hearts.
  • You know you should forgive those you love, and love others – but He wants us to love our enemies.
  • You know the law says that when you deserve something, you should demand restitution.  But Jesus says that we should pursue peace above restitution, and seek to make reconciliation as far as it concerns you.
  • You know you should be kind to your neighbor, but Jesus tells us to be kind to our enemies because what reward in heaven can there be for only reciprocating kindness and love.  It counts when we love our enemies.

We try to excuse lust, anger, vengeance, being unloving, being unkind, and being unforgiving, but Jesus tells us to seek perfection in these areas.

You see – Jesus provides us with some high standards that should expose our innermost thoughts, attitudes, and lifestyles – that ultimately lead to freedom and joy.

That’s the key here – Jesus tells us that we’ll never be able to be sin-free on our own, but that he’s justified us through faith in Him.  When we trust in HIm, place our faith in Him, love Him, he will pay the penalty for our guilt.

He promises that there are rewards in eternity for our obedience in these things.  He also promises in the proverbs of Solomon that when we live according to His word, we can experience a long, satisfying life filled with the fruit of the spirit.

What benefits can we experience by confronting the lies we tell ourselves?

  • Love,
  • Joy,
  • Peace,
  • Patience,
  • Kindness,
  • Goodness,
  • Faithfulness,
  • Gentleness
  • and self control.

If there’s anything in that list that you feel lacking, like I often do, make a new commitment to use scripture to identify the lies you tell yourself and change them.  

Use scripture, prayer, and other Godly friends to both expose the lies you tell yourself and to get accountability to change them. Our lies are excuses, justifying ungodly attitudes, thoughts, and behaviors – and I assure you that you’ll make headway in your pursuit of God’s goodness.  Having a Godly, wise, and biblical friend to hold you accountable is incredibly freeing, but the enemy wants us to hide our sin and self-deception. 

Read the proverbs, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John – and the new testament for tips on how to live according to Jesus’ way.  Then build up your understanding of everything by reading the old testament, but be patient when it gets confusing.

If you’re new to bible reading, try reading an NLT bible, which uses our more modern vernacular.

Also, try listening to the NLT version on the Youversion bible app or on their website – this is relly helpful if you’re not a great reader.

Download the Youversion app here:

Jesus’ toughest words on sin:

““You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. “When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison. And if that happens, you surely won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny. “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye—even your good eye —causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand—even your stronger hand —causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. “You have heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.’ But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery. “You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the LORD.’ But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one. “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow. “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

Matthew 5:21-48
https://www.bible.com/bible/116/MAT.5.21-48

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