By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Scripture depicts our heart as a dishonest and desperately sick. It has the amazing ability to confirm and convince us of any reality we believe exists. Our heart can alter our perception of other people, as well as ourselves. Even those with the best intensions can fall victim to confirmation bias.
Jeremiah 17:9-10 (ESV): 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.”
Confirmation bias is the ability to take any situation and use it to confirm our predisposed beliefs. If we see ourselves as a good person, we will be able to rationalize any behavior. If someone we admired and respected behaved in a less than desirable manner, our opinion of him or her would allow us to be more understanding of the situation. The opposite also tends to be true. If we do not respect the person, every mistake they make further proves our opinion of them. Since humans do not have the ability to comprehend the heart, they lean on appearance when making their judgement. It is the chief difficulty we face when attempting to require actions as a way to judge another’s heart. The fact is we are so bad at judging hearts; we cannot understand our own, let alone another’s.
1 John 3:16-22 (ESV): By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
If we want to be confident in our salvation, all of our actions need to be motivated by love. To love God is to keep His commandments and to abide in Him until death. John says we know love by the fact that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Love is selflessly giving for those and to those who cannot repay you for your love and kindness. We see this with the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). He gave his time and showed compassion for the man beaten and robbed. When the Samaritan took him to the inn, he told the innkeeper, he would return to pay his bill. We see the same type of compassion showed by Paul when he was talking about paying Onesimus’ debt (Philemon 1:19). If we want to be confident we are pleasing God, our actions must be selfless, and motivated by love and compassion.