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A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin. - Proverbs 26:28 (NIV)
My family loves to play games. Any gathering winds up with several games happening at once. Card games, board games, trivia games, all kinds of games. We’re also competitive to the degree that there is occasionally some cheating that takes place (you know who you are). I love playing all the games… except one. Balderdash. It’s the game where the best liar wins. My son says he knows my “tell.” Every stinkin’ time. He knows when I’m balderdash-ing. I should be glad about the fact that I’m not a good liar. The conundrum is, I also like to win.
It’s fun to play a game, but not so fun to be on the receiving end of a lying tongue. If you’ve ever been lied to, you know it’s painful and often hard to regain trust for the person who lied to you. A common rationalization for lying is the attempt to protect someone. However, the Bible makes it clear that only truth demonstrates love.
This will be a good week to test our truth-ometers. Let’s commit together to be truthful in all our dealings. ALL our dealings. ALL of our words, actions, and thoughts. Oh? You thought what crosses your mind doesn’t matter? It matters to the Author of Truth, Jesus. In fact, the closer you walk with Him, the pickier He gets. His influence is what will make you take that can of green beans you don’t need back to the canned vegetable aisle in the grocery instead of leaving it by the potato chips. It’s what will make you give back the extra dollar the cashier gave you by mistake.
Being truthful comes with promises, by the way. Like having a great and long life. God’s Word says, “Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.” (Psalm 34:12-13) So, my friend, tell the truth and live a long life. Choose to tell lies? Better be sure your life insurance is up to date. #kiddingnotkidding
All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal. - Psalms 119:160 (NIV)
That man of mine is honest. Shew! To a fault, Greg Hatton will speak the truth. Someone once said that a spouse is like a full-length mirror, and every day he or she will help you see what you’re really like! Ha! If not for him, I might not know that I have a slightly bossy bent. And that it’s not my most attractive quality. If not for him, I may not have figured out that I think towels can only be folded one way. And if not for him, I would never know how annoying it is to find toothpaste squeezed from the middle. Goodness, for a man who can’t fold towels, he sure is picky about his toothpaste!
But one thing is certain. If Mr. Man tells me something, I can take it to the bank. It will always be true. It will always be forthright. I count on his honesty. I never question if a thing he says is truth, because his history and track record speak for themselves. Men, if you tell lies to your wife, it wrecks her sense of safety. Women, if you are dishonest, it relays to him that you don’t really trust him. Not to mention, dishonesty of any kind distances you from the heart of God.
You see, the heart of God the Father is the heart of absolute truth. Yes, there is such a thing as absolute truth. Truth is truth. Opinions change, truth never does. Truth is not only a provision from God, but a protection He gives us. It’s the first piece of the armor of God found in Ephesians 6:10-20. The belt of truth (verse 14), which is Jesus and His Word, is our first line of defense against an enemy who wants to steal, kill, and destroy. Truth will undo the father of lies. Every. Single. Time.
Married folks, pray for each other to have truthfulness as a way of life. Single people, ask God to bring you a truth-teller. (Even if they are a little uptight about toothpaste. Just sayin’...)
I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line; hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding place. - Isaiah 28:17 (NIV)
A lie is a terrible place to hang out.
Growing up, my sweet Little Mama gave me plenty of spankin’s. No, I wasn’t beaten by any stretch. But back then, I had a sassy mouth on me. I’m sure you find that hard to believe if you know me. Not! Her method? She’d make us go and pick a switch from the bush outside. And don’t come back with some skinny, wimpy switch. Because Lita would go and get her own... one that would light you up. But my Daddy? Only once. I was a senior in high school, by the way. The story is too long to tell, but I earned it, y’all. I told a big, fat, whopper of a lie and broke trust with my parents.
See, I was a good kid. A rule follower, even if a little mouthy. It shocked my parents that I would disobey in the first place, let alone lie about it afterward. But that was the problem. When we sneak around, lies naturally follow. We tell a lie, then another lie has to cover it. Before long, we’re confused about what really happened in the first place.
It always starts as something small. Something you think really doesn’t matter. The problem is that dishonesty of any kind is like a snowball rolling downhill. By the time it reaches the bottom, Frosty is a fully formed wrecking ball, tearing down years of a good reputation. So isn’t it best to be a person who can be trusted even in small matters?
Luke 16:10 declares, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”
The worst feeling in the world was the way I felt when the lie was discovered by my parents. You know what I mean? The hair on the back of your neck stands up, and your face gets all hot and maybe even turns a reddish glow. I think that’s God’s anatomical design, friends. So we won’t enjoy lying! But the real pain is the look of betrayal in the eyes of the one you’ve deceived. Seeing the spirit of a person who trusted you deflate is not fun at all. Be a person who can be trusted with anything, large or small.
Buy the truth and do not sell it—wisdom, instruction and insight as well. - Proverbs 23:23 (NIV)
As I write this, the world seems dark and in a constant state of upheaval. The days are evil, friends. That’s not an over-statement. It doesn’t take much of a look around to see that, right? I saw a picture of a lady looking cautiously out her front door that made me laugh out loud. The caption read, “What chapter of Revelation are we living today?”
We live in a culture that demands we accept false things as true, wrong things as right, and any push back will get you “cancelled.” If we’re not carefully and intentionally grounded in the hope that Jesus offers, we can find ourselves constantly wishing for a simpler, sweeter time and a break from the Babylon culture in which we live.
But God has created you and me for such a time as this. Do you know that, friend? He knew us before we were formed in our mother’s wombs. (Jeremiah 1:5) He could have placed us in any time period in history, but He created us and allowed us to live in this time. (Esther 4:14) God has placed His Spirit inside those of us who call Jesus Savior. (Ephesians 4:30) And He’s made it possible for us to shine like the dawn as we commit our way fully to His. (Psalm 37:6)
It’s never been more important to have your value system set on high ground. To rid yourself of anything that would hinder your life from shining for the Kingdom. Your honesty, character, and integrity matter like never before.
The key to living life to the fullest in this day and age is dependent on one thing: Be IN Christ. Not just around Him. Not just in church on Sunday. Not just when trouble comes and you breathe out a prayer of need. Be IN Christ. Fully, no areas of your heart, life, and actions kept for your own supervision.
This week, maybe it’s time to make an inventory of areas we need to entrust fully to God’s care and supervision. Hold nothing back.
But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. - Daniel 1:8 (NIV)
Today, I want to give you hope that you can live with integrity, honor, and purpose. Even in Babylon. See, it’s one thing to simply do what’s right. It’s totally another to love doing what’s right. One is about obligation. The other, surrender. One leads to captivity. The other, freedom.
Daniel decided to simply obey God. Even though he’d been taken to a place of differing beliefs, habits, and values, he’d remain faithful to God’s precepts in Babylon. You might be asking, “What’s the big deal about food and wine?” You see, Daniel knew the food’s first portion was offered to idols, and some of the wine was poured out on pagan altars.
To partake of the delights that offend a righteous and holy God has consequences. To partake may cost your influence, your reputation and legacy. How about you? Will you choose to obey God’s precepts in Babylon? Will you be taken captive by a corrupt and dying culture, or will you choose to love obedience?
Character is what you do in the dark, when no one is watching. Character is between you and Jesus.
The official Daniel talks to is clearly taken aback, immediately filled with fear. (Daniel 1:10) He knew his king to be a man of great intimidation and anger. He dared not disappoint him in any way, lest the axe fall. But Daniel knew his King to be compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love. (Joel 2:13)
Character is joyful obedience, emanating from a heart tuned to the Father’s love. In his pivotal book, Finishing Strong, Steve Farrar says, “Sin will take you farther than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to stay, and cost you more than you wanted to pay.” Your character, good or bad, will long outlast you, friend. Don’t forget that. Even in the dark.