It is generally conceded that mankind has a negativity bias. According to “What is the Negativity Bias” by Kendra Cherry, we tend to:
- “Pay more attention to negative events than positive ones.
- Learn more from negative outcomes and experiences.
- Make decisions based on negative information more than positive data”
If this is true, however, why is it that men, in the majority according to Matthew 7:13-14, enter the wide gate to destruction? Would not that be perceived as a negative result to be avoided? In fact, when it comes to man’s ultimate eternal destiny, they probably tend to be positive thinkers or display a positive bias.
According to a WebMD article entitled “What is Positive Thinking?” “positive thinking…is the practice of focusing on the good in any given situation…with the expectation that things will go well.”
In 1741, at Enfield, Connecticut, Jonathan Edwards, a pastor, and theologian preached a sermon that became the catalyst for the First Great Awakening in the United States. It was entitled “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” In part of that sermon, Edwards states:
“All wicked men’s pains and contrivances which they use to escape hell, while they continue to reject Christ, and so remain wicked men, do not secure them from hell one moment. Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it; he depends upon himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has done, in what he is now doing, or what he intends to do; every one lays out matters in his own mind, how he shall avoid damnation, and flatters himself that he contrives well for himself and that his schemes will not fail. They hear indeed that there are but few saved, and that the greater part of men that have died heretofore, are gone to hell; but each one imagines that he forms plans to effect his escape better than others have done. He does not intend to go to that place of torment; he says within himself, that he intends to take effectual care and to order matters so for himself as not to fail. But the foolish children of men miserably delude themselves in their own schemes, and in confidence in their own strength and wisdom; they trust to nothing but a shadow.”
In spite of impending doom, is this not positive thinking?
Man flatters himself with contrivances, and flatters himself with what he has done, is now doing, and intends to do. They delude themselves, thinking things will go well.
But, why? Isn’t this against our natural negativity bias to avoid perceived negative outcomes?
One of the answers to this paradox is found in 2 Corinthians 4:4 where:
“…the god of this age [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ…”
It should be noted, however, that God does reveal His truths, and that man is responsible for their own denial. This is found in Romans 1:20-22 that states:
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, both His eternal power and divine nature, has been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.”
To those deluding themselves that “things will go well” I pray that you consider the following verse from Romans 10:9-11:
“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, leading to righteousness, and with the mouth, he confesses, leading to salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes upon Him will not be put to shame.'”
So what do you have to lose? Everything!