Perception and Reality

The Way We See It

If I have heard it said once, I have heard it said a thousand times, “perception is reality.” And each time I hear it, besides vomiting a little in my mouth, I ask, “Oh, really?”

“All the ways of a man [are] clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits” (Proverbs 16:2).

Eye equipmentWhat is it with man’s twisted view of reality and truth? Where do we get the idea that reality is what we perceive it to be? Is truth really relative to our own perception of the way things are? Just because a person believes something to be true doesn’t make it true, only believed.

Have you ever argued with someone who is color-blind over the color of a tie? Have you ever tried to convince someone dying of thirst that it’s not really water, but a mirage? Have you ever tried to convince a 3-year-old that germs are real and that hands need to be washed before eating? Some people think they know what they see, but they don’t.

Clean Drunks

Several years ago I was unfortunate enough to transport a bunch of college kids to a sorority party. It was unfortunate because long before some of them ever got on the school bus they had already been drinking.

The place they were going to was up a mountain. About 5 minutes into the trip, about the third or fourth curve, one girl decided to vomit on the window, down the inside wall, and between the seats. It was all liquid, all alcohol, and all nasty.

A few minutes later she felt she was ready to go party some more! I mean, hey, in her eyes she was perfectly clean! The only problem was that we (everyone on the bus) could tell she was soaked…in other words, we weighed the “spirits.”

(FYI, when attempting to be a gentleman, please remember to wear rubber gloves when holding the arm of a drunk college student as she stumbles out of your bus. Just saying.)

God Sees Everything

When it comes to self-perception, reality is what God sees. He not only sees the outside, but the heart is bare before Him. As the proverb says, a man may consider himself clean, which is his own perception of reality, but the Lord knows what’s really going on.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

It is foolish for men to try to justify their sinful, dirty actions before a holy God. It is foolish to depend on our own perception of what is right and wrong. Our eyes only want to see what makes us look good, not evil.

That is why we need God’s wisdom.



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4 responses to “Perception and Reality

  1. Where this oft-quoted phrase hits home, in my opinion, is that it’s pragmatically or functionally true about our behavior. What I perceive is what I will respond to. My thoughts, my beliefs, my understanding of what’s happening around me, these all contribute to my perception of reality.
    My beliefs affect how I respond to God too. If I think God is “the Great Smiter” (to paraphrase Bruce Almighty) looking to punish every infraction, then I won’t come to the throne of grace for help in time of need. If I think I’m *only* some worthless sinner (true) and don’t take time to comprehend the meaning of God’s amazing love and unmerited grace shown towards me, then I might not understand the good part of the Gospel. If I don’t consider that God views others with the same great love, then I might not perceive how precious they are to Him and respond according to His view instead of my own judgmental views.
    The problem is whether we assume our perceptions are naturally perfect or fundamentally flawed. Coming from a Biblical viewpoint, I believe I can be wrong and probably am, so I seek further wisdom to make sure I’m going the way God would have me go. I know I don’t have a clear enough perception, so I dig deeper and seek God more.
    Sorry to rant a bit, but I am always interested in the way our beliefs and perceptions affect how we act, for good or ill.

    • Well-written and thought-out rants are perfectly acceptable, so far as I perceive you not to be a troll, or something like that. If my perception is incorrect, please correct me, then I will block you 😉 Fair enough?

  2. Valerie Baker

    This is very true!!!

    But, Thank you, Jesus,, for swing the good in us when we can’t.

  3. Pingback: Why the Mountain of Media is So Important | APreachasKid

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