Are you truthful? Do you see yourself as an honest person and straightforward in your dealings with people? Even if you feel yourself to be above reproach in your communication with others, our ability to be totally and completely devoid of any type of misrepresentation, intentional or not, is difficult if not impossible.
“But this is what you must do: Tell the truth to each other. Render verdicts in your courts that are just and that lead to peace. Don’t scheme against each other. Stop your love of telling lies that you swear are the truth. I hate all these things, says the LORD.” (Zechariah 8:16-17 NLT)
We have just completed another cycle of college applications. Our second-born has been accepted to her “reach university” in Japan, and the “getting-into-college” busyness is over, to be replaced with the “providing-the-necessary-funds-for-her-to-actually-be-able-to-attend-there” activities. Yet, as gratifying it has been to witness the achievement of her goal, in hindsight I am struck by an unpleasant truth about our humanness.
Let me begin by stating that I value honesty. My mother considered lying one of the most abominable of offenses, and Jesus clearly identifies the devil as the father of lies, so it is my heart’s desire to be straightforward in all of my dealings with others. Yet several years ago, I found myself becoming too involved in one of our daughter’s competitions. I didn’t write her essays for her because that would have obviously been dishonest, but I thought I would save her time by filling in some of the basic questions like her name and address. These eventually became more complex and in hindsight, were ones she should have answered herself, and even though my contribution seemed marginal at the time, it felt wrong and I ended up disclosing my involvement to the appropriate sources. From this the experience I learned that regardless of whether the “homeschool mom” part of me wanted to use these situations as further teaching opportunities or whether I just wanted to assist, competitions and applications really do need to be the student’s exclusive work, and to this end, I made a concerted and conscious effort not to violate any principles of integrity this time around!
Yet, the unfortunate truth is that regardless of how hard we try, our human efforts remain imperfect. It isn’t an issue of an intentional effort to misrepresent a situation; it’s just the fact that we’re human, and our best attempts are nonetheless flawed. We forget. Sometimes we believe we are telling the truth but are actually misrepresenting something just because we don’t have all the facts or something slips our minds. Later when we realize, we may or may not be able to correct things.
All of this is part of the human experience: it is inherent in who we are and how we are–in our sin natures. We are commanded by God to be truthful, and we do our best, but vestiges of error can and do still occur. This is why Scripture tells us, “There is none who does right.” Yet we are also told liars will be forever punished by God: “But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death [the first death clearly being the one we are all familiar with–the death of our bodies].” (Revelation 21:8 NLT) So, what hope do we have–what hope can we possibly have?!
Our answer and hope is Christ–Jesus Himself: “For He made Him who knew no sin [Jesus] to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (II Corinthians 5:21) Jesus, who had no sin, took my sin on Himself, and gives me His righteousness–rightness before God. I must not ever intentionally misrepresent truth, but if and when I do fail, whether in this respect or any other, it is His righteousness–Christ–in me that is my justification before God and the incomparable privilege of the hope of glory.
Does this mean I can intentionally be dishonest? Of course not! “…We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:2 NIV) Yet when that moment comes that we unintentionally mess up–when we end up misrepresenting something, or sinning in some other way that we never intended–“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2 NIV) Even here, God has provided!
Thank You that You made Jesus to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Amen.