There is perhaps not any other day of the year I am more suspicious of people than on the first of April. I blame my 9th grade Bible teacher. I walked into class assuming it would be like any other day, blissfully unaware of the mischievous plans she had in store for us that day. Looking back, I should not have been as surprised as I was because she really did like to have fun and laugh, she also made the best monkey bread. Anyways, that day she gave us a pop quiz. She handed out a sheet of paper and I was unprepared to say the least. I started reading the questions. This quiz was about the book of Hezekiah. (Spoiler alert: There is no book in the bible titled Hezekiah but there is a king named Hezekiah). I was freaking out because I couldn’t answer any of the questions – so I wrote down the best guesses I could conjure up and when I got to the last question, I was surprised to find out she wanted us to write the date (Yay! I was at least going to get one question right!). All of the other kids started laughing and breathing giant sighs of relief… but I didn’t get it until she yelled “April Fools!” She laughed so hard she cried.
Have you ever been there? Have you ever fallen prey to an April Fools prank before? What about this: I think we as Christians, have fallen for quite a few of the devil’s pranks and society’s lies. For instance, I think a lot of us, subconsciously, think we are kinder than God. Gasp. I know. It rankles me too. My first response to this: “I certainly do not! How dare you!” However, when I consider all the times I’ve compromised the Truth in order to be accepted or received in a better light, I can assure you that whether I knew it or not, I must have justified my actions by thinking that I was being kinder than God. We know better than God right? C. S. Lewis once said, “The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men.” You see, when we compromise the Truth because we believe that is the only way to show someone we love them, we are diluting and distorting the beauty of real love. Loving someone does not mean accepting or affirming falsehoods. God hates lying (Proverbs 6:16). Lying, even for a “good reason” is still sin. Colossians 3:9-10, “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” Speaking the truth is vitally important and it is imperative that we remember to speak truth in a way that is able to be heard and understood. We must speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:14-15).
Why does God call out sin and warn us away from it? Because He loves us and knows the consequences of sin. Sin separates us from God. Sin always leads to death. There is no such thing as a little sin. All sin breaks the heart of God. Proverbs 4:14-15, “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.” I remember hearing a youth leader say one time that “Sin takes you farther than you want to go, keeps you longer than you want to stay, and costs you more than you want to pay.” Here’s another lie we fall for: It’s my life, my choice, and I’m not hurting anyone so what does it matter? Newsflash: Your choices impact others whether you acknowledge that truth or not. You may not even be aware that you are leading others, but I can promise you this – your life matters and what you do with your life matters. You will never impact another person’s life in a neutral manner. You will either impact them positively or negatively. Choose responsibly. Proverbs 4:18-19 & 26-27, “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble…Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all they ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”
Remember that when sin is called out it is an uncomfortable experience for both parties, and I can assure you when I’m called out on my shortcomings, I feel defensive. That’s a natural reaction. Have you ever been in the middle of an argument and realized you are wrong? It’s awful! Especially if someone is speaking in a way that lacks love, whether they are speaking the truth or not, I am more inclined to dismiss their insight because I don’t trust their heart, motives, and intentions. Proverbs 4:23, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” The intent in calling out sin and speaking the truth in love should always be restoration. I appreciate those who are willing to speak the truth in love, who do not compromise what God says in order to fit-in and be well-liked, and those are the people I surround myself with because I know that they truly care and understand what real love is and looks like. 1 John 3:18, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
Read: 1 Kings 9:1-9
Consider: People are really great at justifying not so great things. Oftentimes we say that we would “never” do this or that but upon closer inspection there are times when we compromise our integrity and even say that our not-so-honest actions are ok because they are socially acceptable. As we grow and mature, we learn that just because something is socially acceptable does not mean that it is right. The Christian should take care and intentionally strive for their words and actions to positively reflect the love of God they so proudly claim to follow. People are watching. 2 Corinthians 8:21 reminds us, “For we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man.” There are some things in life that demand compromising, your integrity is not one of them. Honesty is important because if you want to be considered a credible source, then you need to make sure that you are doing everything within your power to be credible. 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
Have you ever heard of a “tell”? It’s when someone subconsciously gives away something they are trying to conceal – like if someone has a good hand in a card game but is trying to say they don’t and they touch their nose every time they have a good hand. Well, since I was a little girl, I have had a “tell” every time I try to lie. I laugh. Seriously, it’s awful! I have never been able to get away with telling a fib! I grew up in a house that just spoke plainly, whether it was good or bad, so having a “tell” wasn’t the end of the world because I just learned to stick with the truth. My mom and dad used to always tell us kids that our name was more important than any thing and once a reputation is ruined, it can be nearly impossible to ever recover. So, we were to protect our name like Proverbs 22:1 tells us, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.” There have been times in my life where the short-term outcome made compromising my integrity tempting, but there has always been that reminder that my name will follow me forever, you know, that long-term view, and so, even in the midst of awkward or uncomfortable situations, honesty really is the best policy. 1 Chronicles 29:17a says, “I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness.” God takes pleasure in our willingness to uphold our integrity. Stick to the truth and remember the freedom that is found in it.
To-Do: Has there been a time when you chose to compromise the Truth in order to be accepted or avoid hurting someone’s feelings? How would you speak the truth to a close friend or family member who is asking you to reaffirm their false beliefs and actions?
Photo Credit: Mac McDonald