"Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." James 1:22 (NKJV)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Week 23: Speak Truthfully

"Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body." ~ Ephesians 4:25

In the spirit of this week's command, here is some honesty about this blog. The truth is I'd rather be watching the baseball game right now than writing this post, but I don't want people to think I'm a quitter. So, here I am. The truth is that sometimes I'm sorry that I ever started The James 1:22 Project. The truth is I'm not completely sure why I started this or why I keep going. The truth is that I probably have mixed motives about it. I really want to become a doer of God's word. I really want God to be glorified. But, I also want people to read what I'm writing and say nice things about it. I love to get comments from readers at the end of these posts, and I'm always a little crestfallen when a post doesn't get any. I want to be affirmed and appreciated. I want people to think that I'm smart, and a good writer, and full of Godly wisdom. That's the truth. And so, like I said, here I am, with mixed motives but praying that God would keep my heart right. [To be clear, I'm not begging for comments. I'm not even going to allow comments to this particular post.]

This is the first command in a series of commands related to our speech. God cares a lot about the honesty of our speech.

  • Proverbs 6:16-17, "There are six things which the Lord hates, seven which are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and a man who sows discord among brothers."
  • Proverbs 12:22, "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord."
  • Proverbs 12:19, "Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment."
  • Revelation 21:7-8, "He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

Seven things are an abomination to the Lord. Two of them are lying. Get the point? I'm not a habitual liar, but I can't say that I never lie. Just this evening, I gave the boys chocolate donut holes for dessert, and I told them that they were bear scat. Let me explain that one. We recently watched an episode of Man vs. Wild, where the host, Bear Grylls, eats half digested unidentified something that he picks out of bear scat. So, I thought the bear scat routine was pretty funny. The boys were actually not amused, and I had to 'fess up. Once, when the boys wouldn't stay in bed at night, I told them that I was going to release poisonous snakes in their room if they didn't stay in bed. I got that one from Bill Cosby. The boys were so terrified about the possibility of poisonous snakes in the house that I had to very quickly confess to them that I was only joking. Maybe I'm not the world's greatest dad. When it comes to lying, I'm no angel.

More commonly, however, falsehood in my life is not about lying but about what I choose to keep to myself. I tend to hide what I'm struggling with. I'm afraid of being embarrassed and losing esteem in the eyes of others. I want the praise and the approval of others. I hate to admit when I'm weak and I'm struggling. I want people to think that I've got it all together. I don't want people to know that I struggle with pride, insecurity and anger.

So, starting last week, I'm trying to be more candid about my flaws and sins. I'm especially trying to be more open and transparent with my Christian brothers and sisters, because I know that's the path to receiving more of God's forgiveness, mercy and healing. It's no accident that, in Ephesians 4:25, Paul specifically admonishes the members of the Ephesian church to speak truthfully to their neighbors as "members of one body." Back in Week Six, I made a big confession of past sins to my pastor. It was frightening but also liberating and empowering. I'm so glad that I did it. I can see now, however, that it's more important to live a lifestyle of transparency and confession than to make one single big confession.