A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
“The devil loves ‘curing’ a small fault by giving you a great one (p. 127).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
It is easy to think that moving away from a problem is the same as moving towards something better. But this is the lie behind most of life’s devastating sins. No one runs face first into addiction. They run looking over their shoulder at a lesser problem and into the arms of addiction. Bankruptcy is what happens when you solve every problem (focal point) with your debt (blind spot).
It is easy to think that everyone who sympathizes with your problem is your friend. But this false assumption is the foundation for every scam. A drug dealer needing to make a sale will listen to your problems in order to pitch his “solution.” Sexual predators specialize in listening to hurting kids on social media to serve as an inroad to their trust.
This does not mean that all sympathy is dangerous or that progress is always a mirage. It does mean that our ability to change for the better is hampered when we focus exclusively on our struggle. When we focus on our struggle, even if we are disgusted by it, we get the false notion that different is the same as better.
When you focus on how dumb you are everyone else becomes smart. When you focus on how weak you are everyone else becomes strong. The problem is when you try to apply “their” wisdom, there is a strong probability it will fail and when you try to rely on “their” strength, it will let you down. By focusing upon faults we never gain an appreciation for what is truly wise, strong, and good.
Not only does Satan love to cure small faults with big ones (goal), he seals the deal by getting us lost in our faults (method). This is an ingenious way to blind those who can see. If Satan can get us to look for the wrong thing with great intensity, then we will miss, ignore, or reject the right thing even when we look right at it.
What do I mean? If Satan can get us so focused on our faults that we fail to look at Christ, then we are functionally blind to the wisdom, cure, strength, and hope we need. When we focus on our faults we feel dirty when we look at Christ instead of realizing He will cleanse us. When we focus on our faults we feel stupid when we look at Christ instead of realizing He offers wisdom.
It is by focusing us on our faults that Satan blinds our seeing eyes to true hope and, thereby, makes “greater faults” seem like the only “solution” available. Each time we apply Satan’s solutions we feel more stupid (retrospect proves we can see) and are more prone to use the next “desperate measure.” We feel more dirty and less apt to approach anything clean or pure.
So what do we do? We stop and look to Christ. We gaze at life itself. We marvel at life lived as God intended. We begin to live towards something instead of just away from our faults. We repent of our faults and accept that hope can only be received, not earned.
When this is done, greater faults and false compassion lose their appeal. Our vision is restored. While we may still fall many times, we fall forward towards Christ. We realize we repent instead of making “double or nothing” deals with life. We take sin more seriously but less frantically so that we resist Satan’s offer to exchange small faults with great ones.