One of the things that has been really apparent to me recently is how often I am “right in my own eyes.” It’s one of the things that the Bible warns against. More than once!
For example, the downward spiral of the children of Israel in the book of Judges occurs because, “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6 and almost repeated word for word in Judges 21:25)
We’re also told in Proverbs 12:15, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.” So, I find that my predilection to be always right and never failing in my opinions makes me a fool. That stings a little bit.
However, Proverbs also makes me realize that it’s just part of the human condition. Proverbs 21:2 reads, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.”
I guess I’m not along in considering myself right in my own eyes. That’s an attitude that is prideful, selfish and can so easily be obnoxious that it’s embarrassing.
I drew a little more comfort this week that I’m not alone in my struggle of always feeling that my way is the right way. I have been reading Philip Jenkins’ The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade.
In the book, Jenkins shows how each side of the war felt like God was on their side. They then, from the rightness of their own perspective, begin to vilify the other side. They accuse the leaders of conspiring with Satan. It turns into a war where victory for their side is victory for God. All sides did this to some respect in the war effort of World War I.
The quote that really brought this out for me was this one:
Other much-reproduced British military images of the war years bore titles such as The Great Sacrifice, The Greater Reward, and Greater Love Hath No Man. That final phrase also appeared regularly on Russian military graves, implying that the dead man had laid down his life for his friends. In practice, though, this commitment to suffering and sacrifice meant serving in uniform, taking up weapons, and inflicting death upon others. So constantly do such accounts portray soldiers undergoing sacrificial death that it is sometimes hard to tell who, if anyone, is actually attacking, rather than merely dying nobly. Somebody, surely, must be firing the shells and wielding the bayonets.
It occurred to me that when everyone is the victim, no one thinks that their actions are wrong. That’s probably the kind of attitude that leads to huge world wars.