It is the single biggest cause of the problems facing you as a single in God’s Church. It caused the offenses and frustrations that have muddied your relationships. It amplified that silly misunderstanding with your friend into a hurtful feud.
On some level, this relationship wrecker causes virtually all your obstacles. And in the world around you, it is on an absolute rampage.
What is this cause that the vast majority of our problems trace back to? Human nature!
Do you recognize human nature within yourself? The better you do, the more you realize how hurtful and damaging it is—and the more you can eliminate it. Take it on, and you’ll be happier, more content, closer to God. You’ll have better relationships, warmer friendships with those of the opposite sex, and more unity and harmony with others in the Church of God.
This article exposes a few specific ways your human nature might be damaging your relationships and your life and gives you some strategies for popping it in the nose.
How Well Do You See It?
Human nature affects so many of our interactions each day, and is extremely common. But at the same time, it is very difficult to clearly see within ourselves.
Do you know why? We have to understand the reason: It’s because we like to think of ourselves as good. That tendency really gets us into trouble!
God made human beings to need His Holy Spirit in order to be complete. (Read “The Void in You.”) Lacking that, and sensing that incompleteness—that inner void—gives every person “an innate inferiority complex,” Herbert W. Armstrong explained. “[B]ut, not understanding what it is, he seeks to quell the painful sense of inferiority by conceit, and blowing up the ego—the self—with vanity and self-exaltation” (Plain Truth, August 1962).
Our human nature doesn’t want to acknowledge our limitations.Human nature never easily admits mistakes, errors or sins. This is the hardest thing for a person to do! So to avoid having to do so, we twist ourselves in mental knots to convince ourselves of our own awesomeness. We become vain and self-righteous. But we never see ourselves as vain or self-righteous.
And that is why, as Jeremiah 17:9 reveals, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Our hearts can easily deceive us! Wanting to think of ourselves as good, we become skilled at self-justification. We kid ourselves because we just won’t admit how evil our hearts really are!
“Note carefully: our human minds are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked,” Gerald Flurry wrote. “We cannot trust our thinking. That is eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan’s nature permeates human intellect and human reasoning. We cannot trust our own minds” (From the Beginning).
The heart is incurably sick—and only God really recognizes that! Only God’s Spirit can expose human nature. You have to pray to see yourself as God sees you—not as your human heart wants to see itself.
We should never trust our own minds, but so often we do. And what happens? We become cursed (verse 5). Trusting sick human minds is what has made our whole world such a sick place!
Don’t trust yourself! Don’t try to run your life your own way. Don’t trust your incredibly deceitful mind that is terminally ill—or you will be cursed!
This principle extends to your dating. Don’t date the way you think is best. I have heard people say, I don’t want to date and serve in the Church—that’s just not me.I’m comfortable the way I am. This is just who I am. That is practically the definition of self-righteousness—self is right. The person who thinks that way has become content with his human nature!
If you don’t understand human nature, you won’t be motivated to beseech God for the power to conquer it.
Too Good for You
Human nature wants to believe it is awesome. One effective and particularly deadly strategy it uses for feeling better about itself is simply to run everyone else down.
Human nature is negative and critical of other people. “Self-righteousness makes you a person without much compassion, because you just can’t understand why people have so many faults,” Mr. Flurry wrote. “If you don’t look deep down and see your own problems, you are going to be very critical of other people. You will be a difficult person to get close to, because who wants to be put down all the time?” (How to Be an Overcomer).
Remember: Only by pride comes contention (Proverbs 13:10). When pride is absent, there is no contention.
The self-righteous person looks down his nose at others and makes everyone around him feel like a loser. This definitely can happen among God’s singles.
One big theme in the e-mails I receive is pointing out other people’s faults. This is not necessarily bad—there are problems that need to be addressed, and these e-mails have been extremely helpful in bringing those issues to light. But we must be careful: Satan can easily steer fault-finding thinking in a bad direction.
Women say that the men are not dating, not working, not leading. Men say the women are too strong, pushy, too brash, not following. In many cases, I know there is truth to these criticisms. But realize this: We live in a satanic world that does rub off on us. It is easy to forget just how much God’s singles have working against them! It’s going to take a lot of work to turn this around. Most of your fellow singles are trying; they want to do right and are working to get it right. They are going against the grain. They are swimming upstream. Rather than judging and criticizing each other, we really do need to encourage each other!
God’s nature is the opposite of human nature. God’s love doesn’t focus on flaws. It “thinks no evil”—allows for mistakes, desires to think well of others. It forgives! It “believes all things”—believes the best. It “bears all things”—covers faults rather than gossiping about them.
It “hopes all things”—holds out hope and remains positive toward people (1 Corinthians 13:5, 7).
“We need to understand that self-righteousness repels, while the true righteousness of God draws people to you as it did to Jesus Christ,” Mr. Flurry wrote. “People liked Christ. He was a nice man to be around because He didn’t put people down or make them feel inferior. … Here is a principle I hope you never forget: True righteousness never looks down on others. No matter who it is or how dirty the sinner is, true righteousness never looks down on the person. It hates the sin but loves the sinner” (ibid).
God’s love “rejoices in the truth” (verse 6). It rejoices in other people’s virtues and is pleased when they do well. How do you look at your fellow singles? Ask God to show you how much of His love you have—and how much human nature. Pray He will help you replace the one with other. Be vigilant when your thoughts are being guided by those human tendencies, and seize those opportunities to redirect your thinking and to express more of the love of God.
That Offends Me
One potent way to measure how much human nature you have is to examine how touchy, how sensitive, you are. Human nature is easily offended.
Among the singles, there is ample opportunity for offenses to arise. In dating and activities, there is an astounding variety of personalities mingling together. Combine this person’s expectations with that person’s awkwardness, this man’s assumptions with that woman’s uneasiness, this single’s frankness with that single’s wounded past—and you’re a hair trigger away from an insult that can kill a friendship before it even has a chance to breathe. (You can read more about these tendencies in the article “What a Large Blemish You Have.”)
“Sometimes we have little problems with other people. In that situation, self-righteousness can produce a defensive attitude,” Mr. Flurry wrote. “We end up thinking, I try to get closer to people, but this person criticized me, and it causes us to hold back” (ibid).
Do you know what the solution to that problem is? To clearly see yourself for the sinner you really are. If you have that perspective, you will abhor yourself—like Job did after his thinking was set right (read Job 42:1-6). “Then if somebody makes a negative remark about us, so what? It doesn’t really matter. We can go on and love them and be friends with them. What difference does it make what people think of you? All that matters is what God thinks” (ibid).
God’s love “is not easily provoked” (1 Corinthians 13:5). It is not overly sensitive or touchy. It isn’t prone to anger, getting exasperated with others, or having sudden bursts of emotion.
Woe Is Me
Another common way that human nature shows up is in feelings of self-pity.
We all have trials and difficulties, but there certainly can be troubles and challenges particular to single life. Aloneness can turn into loneliness, making those trials even harder to bear. A danger, though, arises when we allow such thoughts to grow and compound into a negative, self-absorbed mindset. Redirecting those thoughts onto work, service, or God’s Family can minimize self-pity.
But think about this tendency from a spiritual perspective. Mr. Flurry called self-pity “another growth-stifling attitude that crops up in self-righteous people.”
How can self-pity indicate self-righteousness? It is in how you respond to the challenges you face in life. “If we get into a trial and don’t see the need to change, it is easy to get into a self-pitying frame of mind,” Mr. Flurry explained. “Trials are a way God communicates with us. Every trial you ever had served a purpose. God has promised He won’t allow a trial you can’t handle. He knows what is going on in your life. God is focused on every member of His Family.
“Self-pity is like cancer because it wipes out our enthusiasm to fight back. We just want to wallow in our self-pity when we receive a fiery trial. We endure the trial, but we don’t rejoice in it. We don’t see it as correction from a loving Father. That attitude won’t change anybody” (ibid).
Being open to God’s correction mitigates this problem. Recognizing a particular trial as a tool God is using to shape you and perfect you can make you very positive!
“Paul said we need a positive attitude. We can fight our way out of trials. We can learn the lessons. We can overcome. Through Jesus Christ, he said, I can do all things. (He was in jail when he said that; he knew what he was up against.) Never once in the Scriptures will you find self-pity in Jesus Christ. Why? Because He didn’t have one bit of self-righteousness in Him. … It is important to keep a positive attitude. God said you can. He will not let you down. …
“It is easy for us to look at our problems and become discouraged. Yet, if it weren’t for having some problems, we would not be building character and headed for the Kingdom of God! Correction in your life is the greatest blessing you can receive. It is an act of love designed to get you into God’s Family. What a privilege to be tried and tested by God, receiving the education we need to be in His Family” (ibid).
Look at Yourself
Evaluate how much your human nature is affecting your life as a single in God’s Church. Pray that God will show it to you. Then ask yourself throughout every day, dozens of times every day: Is this coming from the Spirit of God in me? Is this the love of God in me? Am I doing this for God first? Am I esteeming others better than myself? Or—is this just a human effort? Am I doing this because I love myself more?
If you do this, you will start to see your human nature more clearly. And that is a wonderful thing; then you can start to really make progress.
This is at the heart and core of our salvation! Our whole calling revolves around understanding and destroying human nature! God expects us to become experts in this subject.
As difficult as it is to see your own heart for what it is, what a wonderful difference it makes in your life when you do!