That was one of the headlines in our local newspaper yesterday. The article reported the findings of a recent survey.
The survey found that 35 percent of boys and 26 percent of girls — 30 percent overall — acknowledged stealing from a store within the past year. One-fifth said they stole something from a friend; 23 percent said they stole something from a parent or other relative… Other findings from the survey:
—Cheating in school is rampant and getting worse. Sixtyfour percent of students cheated on a test in the past year and 38 percent did so two or more times, up from 60 percent and 35 percent in a 2006 survey.
—Thirty-six percent said they used the Internet to plagiarize an assignment, up from 33 percent in 2004.
—Forty-two percent said they sometimes lie to save money
49 percent of the boys and 36 percent of the girls.
Despite such responses, 93 percent of the students said they were satisfied with their personal ethics and character, and 77 percent affirmed that ‘‘when it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know.’’
Shortly after reading that, I came across this parenthetical remark by my friend Andy as he was writing about examining his heart: “…I am the easiest person for me to fool.”
Now, the students in the survey don’t even seem to realize they’re deceiving themselves. On the other hand, Andy knows just how easy it is to do exactly that (which is a good thing). What the survey and Andy’s comment have in common is the fundamental biblical truth they highlight–we have an enormous capacity for deceiving ourselves about the true condition of our own hearts.
The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
“I the Lord search the heart
and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his deeds.”
I’ve blogged about this before, but the following question is so crucial that it bears frequent repetition. Never be afraid to ask it, and always seek a ruthlessly honest answer to it.
Are you deceiving yourself about the true condition of your heart? I’m not asking if you know someone else who may be deceiving themselves. The question is one each of us need to ask ourselves. I think it’s no exaggeration to say that our eternal destiny hangs on how we answer.