Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Truth and Nothing But The Truth

            The moment I heard my mother call me by my full name, I knew I was in trouble. I would come into her presence nervous, and wondering what she had found out about me that I had hoped she never would. What did I do that she finally knew about and how in the world was I going to get out of it? Her words were always the same to me the minute I sat down at the kitchen table. She would look me in the eye and say, “It will be easier for you if you just tell me the truth.” But, like most kids, I usually found an excuse to give her for what I had done, or I found someone else to blame. If that failed, then I lied. I just made something up to make her wrath move away from me. Unfortunately, my mom usually saw right through all my lies because even before she asked, she knew the truth. There were those rare occasions when I would choose to tell her the truth, and I will admit, the punishments I received we a lot easier to get through. But, the lesson I had a hard time learning was to just tell her the truth, and nothing but the truth so help me God.
            These past few weeks I have been restructuring my company and working on some foundations that need to be firmed up. These changes have brought about decisions and choices that have made me question my integrity as a business woman and as a child of God. One thing I want to be in business is truthful and I want to walk in integrity. I do not want to be that company that makes excuses, and I most definitely do not want to be untruthful in any of my dealings. But as these things changes have been made and those foundations have become more firm, I have noticed there is an area of my personal life that affects the way I do business. It is a sin that has been a part of my life and one that I must put away. That sin is the sin of lying.
“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are all members of one another.” Ephesians 4:25
            What is falsehood? Falsehood is the conscious intent to deceive ourselves and others. It is the attempt to deceive someone into believing that something is truth when it is in fact false. It is a lie. We are to speak truth always, with everyone. Most of us as Christians would say that we do speak the truth. We never seek to defraud anyone into seeing something for other than what it is. But do we? Do we really speak truth all the time? Do we always strive to walk blamelessly and speak the truth in our hearts as well as to those outside?
            What is truth? How do we know what truth is? This is the same question that Pilate asked Jesus right before he sent Him to His death. In our world, truth is almost impossible to find. We as Christians know that Jesus is the Truth. He is the way, the truth and the life. We know that in Him abides all truth and wisdom and knowledge. Paul states in Ephesians 4:22-24 that we are to put off the old self that belonged to the former manner of life and now we are to walk in the newness of Christ. We are to put off the old self and start living our lives as Christ lived His- in truth. So, what then is truth? Truth is loyalty, it is honesty, it is just, it is upright and it is faithful. Truth is the righteousness of God manifested in Jesus Christ our Lord; and His life is the life we are to be living, and striving for. A life filled with truth. But do we? Do we really live our lives in truth as Christ lived in truth? Let’s look at some ways that we live in falsehood first, then maybe we will see clearly how to walk in truth.
            First, let’s talk about flattery. Flattery, or charm is a falsehood, it is a lie to make others feel good about themselves. It is the desire to defraud people into thinking something about themselves that may not be true. Flattery is the tendency to tell people what they want to hear rather than what we really think. “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30) We are a selfie addicted people. We post our pictures and the comments of how beautiful we are come flooding in. But flattery is not just about commenting on how beautiful we think someone is, flattery is puffing someone up to believe something about themselves that is not true. When we tell someone how much we admire them, yet on the inside we envy them. Flattery is falsehood. Christ did not puff people up, nor did He flatter them with His words. He told them the truth, and they either liked it or they didn’t.
            Another way I see us using falsehood is in our excuses. Now, I admit that this one was a slap in the face for me, because making excuses seems to come naturally for me. We make excuses for our behavior; for the things we do. We try to cover up the truth with an excuse. “Most excuses are just the skin of a truth stuffed with a lie.” (Roger Groves) We make excuses for our sins. We make excuses for the way we treat others, blaming them for our reactions. We blame other for the reasons we lie. We even make excuses for ourselves. We make excuses by saying we didn’t have time to read today, or we tell ourselves we should tell this little lie because we don’t want our husband to get upset. We make excuses for the things we do, the things we think and even for the things we say. We make the excuse that in the end, it won’t really matter. We tell part of the truth, but not the whole truth, and that should be okay before God.
            Next one that I found hidden in my heart was the failure to speak truthfully. I tend to say what I think other people want to hear. Why do I do this? To save myself from being rejected, persecuted or unfriended. We smile and speak what we think will make us look smart, funny, spiritual, or make us look good to those around us. We desire the opinion of others more than we desire the opinion of God. We not only deceive ourselves in these falsehoods, we deceive others. We must be truthful with ourselves and with God if we want to be truthful with others.
            Another way we live and walk in falsehood is by not keeping our promises. We make promises and vows we never intend to keep. We tell a friend we will pray for them, yet we walk away and never do. We may tell them that we prayed, but we lie and do not speak the truth. We make plans with family and friends, and then find a reason why we can’t go. We make commitments without carefully considering the cost. Then when we are asked to fulfill these commitments we lie and make our excuses. Why can’t we just tell the truth? Do you know I would much rather have someone tell me that they forgot to pray for me, rather than have someone tell me they prayed and yet they did not? I have come to a place in my Christian walk where I no longer want to say I will pray, but I want to stop what I am doing, right then and there and pray. I see it all the time on Facebook. People post something and there are 50 comments written with one word, “Praying”. Really? Are you? Even in that we lie.
            Even though I could spend all day writing out everything I lie about, I will end with this last one. We lie to God. We pray and praise and raise our hands, yet our hearts are far from Him. We tell Him how much we love Him yet we refuse to keep His commandments. We list off our requests and walk away feeling good about ourselves, but we do not see the lie we are living. We use God’s grace shamefully and lie to His face.
“And the Lord said, ‘Because this people draw near with their mouths and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men.’”
 Isaiah 29:13
            We are not fooling God. We are only deceiving ourselves. Hebrews 4:13 reminds us that there is no creature hidden from God, all of us are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account. Is that lie really worth it, or is that excuse so needed that you would choose it over the truth you have been given in Jesus Christ our Lord?
            Take a moment and think about all the areas in which you choose to walk falsely. Think about your relationships, your career, those whom you interact with daily; think about the change that would take place if you choose to tell the truth instead of a lie. Think about the people we have hurt by pretending to be someone we are not. Now, think about the person you could become if you would simply tell the truth.
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” John 8:31-32

            Lies, excuses and false commitments, they will leave you bound up and will strangle the life out of any relationship you have. But truth, the whole truth, releases us from the grip of sin. Because nothing in this world can stand against truth, nothing can defeat it and nothing can overcome it. Truth is the life and the light to which we are called to live by. Truth simply is. So, let us make a commitment today, to one another, to ourselves and to our Savior, to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, so help us God. Amen?