Chapter 19 – Truth instead of Deception

 

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

– Ephesians 4:22-25, NIV

Deception is one of the most damaging sins that likes to create larger and larger problems which can take a great deal of strength to fix. Perhaps this is why there is so much instruction in Scripture to keep away from it – living in the light of God’s truth makes life much simpler and avoids falling into quicksand. I once heard the story of a lady who, after lying about her colleague, went to her pastor and asked what to do about it. The pastor asked a strange thing – he requested that she bring a dead chicken to church the next day, and pluck it as she walked the journey to the church. Confused but intrigued, she followed his instruction. When she met the pastor at the door of the church, he instructed her to now go and find all the feathers from the chicken, and stick them back on. She exclaimed that the task would be impossible – the wind took the feathers in all different directions along her route, and may have mixed with feathers of other birds, and would simply not be possible to find. And even if she did find them, with what could she possibly re-attach them to the chicken? The pastor said to her, “and so it is with deception.”

When someone lies, the words can fly far away in different directions and be impossible to retrieve or to undo what was said. It is better to just not pluck the chicken in the first place. As enjoyable as it may be sometimes to join in with seemingly harmless conversations behind people’s backs, we know that the hurt that can come from it is immense. So may we surrender to God our tongues and the words that come out of our mouths – may He lead us to live in His truth, far from any kind of deception or negative talk about people. As we surrender our mouths to God, may He teach us to honour people because of His love for them, and because He created each of them in His image with divine purpose, so that we no longer see any need to deceive or speak in unhealthy ways about people. May we surrender to God our mouths and let Him give us words of love and peace and healing instead of words that cause brokenness and damage. As we surrender, may God teach us to seek restoration instead of destruction whenever we have a problem with someone, and to speak accordingly.

Empower me to be a bold participant, rather than a timid saint in waiting; to exercise authority of honesty, rather than to defer to power or deceive to get it; to influence someone for justice, rather than impress anyone for gain; and by grace, to find treasures of joy, of friendship, of peace hidden in the fields you give me daily to plow.

– Ted Loder

Committing to truth and honesty is, to some, a terrifying idea. We know that when we turn on a light in a dark room everything is exposed for all to see – the beauty of the furniture, the clutter of things on the table, the colour of the curtains, the stains on the carpet… St Paul tells us that “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’” (Ephesians 5:8-14, NIV). When we live in the light of the truth of Christ, everything within us is open to being exposed – the good and the bad. Living a life committed to truth and honesty means that we have nothing to hide, nothing to cover up. What a challenge this might be!

May we surrender our mouths to God and speak in the awareness that God’s light shines on us and shines through us to bring Him glory. This way we can stay away from temptation towards deception. Phillip Brooks encourages us to “Keep clear of concealment – keep clear of the need of concealment. It is an awful hour when the first necessity of hiding something comes. The whole life is different thenceforth. When there are questions to be feared and eyes to be avoided and subjects which must not be touched, the bloom of life is gone”. Let us hold on to the bloom of life that God has given us, and steer clear of any need to hide or conceal areas of our lives. Let us speak the truth in love, and shine God’s light to a broken world.

This can sometimes feel like it comes as a sacrifice. Sometimes it hurts to tell the truth. Sometimes it costs us. But I believe that God blesses us for it; He honours the sacrifices we make for the truth. May we surrender to God anything that may be holding us back from living in the light of His truth in everyday life.

Lie not, neither to thyself, nor man, nor God. It is for cowards to lie.

– George Herbert

In the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25), Jesus shows us that the way we treat other people is the way we treat Him. If we are to behave towards others in the same way as we would behave towards Christ, then let no deception of any kind take place. Christ is with us every day by the power of the Holy Spirit, and through the power of the Spirit we are enabled to let His truth (and truth alone) be spoken through us – staying away from deception. And when we surrender to Him, He can enable us to see people in the way that He does, with genuine love and compassion. This love and compassion of Christ can lead us yet further from any temptation to deceive others – we honour them, and speak what is true. Those who are in relationship with God are our brothers and sisters; we are all part of the same body – so if we deceive them to achieve our own ends this can cause unhealthy division in the body. And if we deceive those who do not yet know God, what kind of a witness is this?! May we surrender to God our mouths, and let Him place His words of love and truth there, and lead us far away from any temptation to deceive.

None of us are perfect, we all make mistakes. We don’t have to pretend to be perfect either (this is also deception). May we surrender to God our mouths and let Him teach us to be open about our weaknesses rather than trying to cover up our mistakes and our sin – then God’s light can shine through us, bringing glory to Him and purifying us along the way. Dan Hayes puts it this way: “Among the many great things about admitting your weakness and vulnerability is that it is so relaxing. I don’t have to be a fake any more.”

It makes a difference when someone lives in truth, in such an age of deception. So it is noticeable when someone CAN be trusted to tell the truth. How sad that the world seems to have taken on a culture of deception being the norm. How can anyone build deep relationships? How can anyone trust their neighbour’s words? Perhaps this is why everyone seems to crave independence and self-sufficiency – the expectation of letdown and the unknowing, the necessity of trusting in another human being, is just too much to handle; too much of a risk. Catherine Marshall pointed out that “The single most important element in any human relationship is honesty – with oneself, with God, and with others.” When we live in the light of truth, we can trust and be trusted with our words. What a difference this makes! May every member of Christ’s body be noticeably different in this way – that all the world may know that truth lives in God and that His people can be trusted, just as He can. May we surrender to God our mouths and let Him shape the way we speak to His beloved, created people. May we speak with purpose in every breath, God’s divine purposes working through us – and our lives drenched with truth.

I choose goodness… I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.

– Max Lucado

 

Lord of all truth and light,

Thank You that You love and accept me regardless of my faults.

Thank You that You see all truth, and that Your light exposes everything – the good and the bad.

Please help me not to fear this – but to live in Your truth no matter what it costs me!


Help me to prioritise pleasing You and living for You rather than for my own convenience or pleasure.

I surrender to You my mouth, and the words I say to people.

Please fill me with Your truth; lead me to speak truth at all times.

Lead me far from deception and from temptation to lie.

I surrender to You my failings – help me not to try to hide them; enable me to live in the light of Your truth.

I’m open to You speaking through me Your truth and life and light.

I surrender to You any barriers that may be stopping me from living and speaking in Your truth.

Please teach me, Lord – help me to live in the light of Your truth, whatever that means for me.

Please shape my understanding.

I give You my mouth and I ask that You’d replace it with Your own.

May I live in Your ways, speaking Your words of truth and not trying to hide from Your light!

Amen

 

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