By Matthew Fretwell

Read through the Summation and Task below and then in your own words, answer each question in at least 100 words.


This lesson informs us that “self-serving bias can be seen in the common
human tendency to take credit for success but to deny responsibility
for failure.” A good parallel example of this is found in 1 Samuel (you
may choose to briefly review 1 Samuel 4-6). The Philistine Army had encamped
around Israel to defeat it in war. The Israelites believed that God was
on their side and would fight for them; however, they quickly found
themselves in defeat, losing over 4,000 lives. They quickly sought the
Ark of the Covenant (when they should have sought the Living God) and
had it brought to the field of battle. Although Israel had at times
before given God all the glory for its prosperity, it was in the midst
of idolatry and serving other gods. Since Israel decided to follow after
“man-made” gods, the LORD allowed them to be defeated by people who
served those gods. Therefore, Israel took the credit for their success
and prosperity, but when they failed in battle, they blamed God, not
their own self-centered idolatry as the consequence for their

On the other side of this self-serving bias scenario, the pagan
Philistines did not realize that the LORD of all the earth had given
Israel into their hand for defeat. In their puffed-up pride, the
Philistines took the Ark of the Covenant back to their country, storing
it in the House of Dagon (their god). The Philistines quickly observed
that they were “cursed” and wondered why. Here we see a prime example of
self-serving bias; the Philistines took credit for the win in battle
(unaware of God’s will), but then quickly blamed the Ark of the Covenant
and the “Hebrew” God for the disease which had been inflicted upon
them. The disease which the Philistines incurred was a direct result of
their own failure to leave well enough alone. There was no need to
capture the Ark of the Covenant (fully plated in gold), other than for
their greed and arrogance. The failure was their responsibility to give
God the glory for their victory. Likewise, Israel’s failure was in being
obedient to God’s will and commands, which they were sternly warned.
Read Joshua 24:19-23)


1. With the above stated, recall a specific event in your life when you
allowed self-serving bias to affect your Christian walk, or an event
prior to your salvation.

2. How would recognizing the self-serving bias theory as a Christian
motivate you to become a better leader (hint: do you take responsibility
for your own failures?)?