A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)
What we say and do is a reflection of what is in our heart. Our external actions reflect our inner spiritual condition. This truth is reflected in many ways in our lives. Something I noted when pastoring (something which I recently also read about in a magazine article) is how we often assume that others think like we do. I noted in counseling parishioners that when a couple came in if one was more honest and one more deceitful, the deceitful person often assumed the honest person was lying, and the honest person often assumed the liar was being honest. Angry people sometimes accused their spouses of being angry as they projected themselves on their partners. What they projected on others actually reflected their own inner spiritual condition and they assumed the other thought like they did.
I have mentioned before that this tendency to project on others how we think is also obvious in some politicians who are always accusing their opponents of lying or cheating or engaging in fraud. They do these behaviors themselves and so project them on others assuming everyone thinks like them. Of course, they may not be wrong about their accusations, but people whose default mode is to accuse others of being fake, phony, liars or cheats are often just reflecting how they behave in their own life and choices. Beware of those people who constantly accuse others of such behavior as they are saying something about themselves. Even if we agree with their politics, we should not be deceived by or about their morality. We should not support them in their self-delusions. There is an old bit of wisdom which says: Some people cannot tell a lie. Some cannot tell the truth. Some cannot tell the difference.
It is sometimes difficult for us to see ourselves as others see us because there are in us faults we cannot see. Occasionally something happens or the right person says something about our personality to us and we gain insight into ourselves. If we are really astute, we learn about ourselves from both friends and enemies. Although we humans don’t always engage in self-awareness, we sometimes realize we are lacking in some area of our personality. If we are strong, we learn from these insights. We especially learn that we are human which means we have faults, foibles and sins.
We are capable of learning virtues and recognizing vices in our self which then enables us to know what is good in the sight of others as well.
‘Take thought for what is good in the sight of all men‘ (Romans 12:17). . . . we should pay attention to the fact that the Apostle did not say that we should please all men, but that we should take thought for what is good in the sight of all men; that is, we should do good, whether the good pleases them or not. (Origen, COMMENTARY ON THE BOOK TO THE ROMANS Books 6-10, p 218)
As Christians we are to do what is good and right in the eyes of God and of godly people. We are not to do the good just to please others or to manipulate them to think well of us. We are to know what is good in the eyes of the God of Good and behave that way toward all – the good or evil.