2 Timothy 4:2-4
preach the word as an official messenger; be ready when the time is right and even when it is not keep your sense of urgency, whether the opportunity seems favorable or unfavorable, whether convenient or inconvenient, whether welcome or unwelcome; correct those who err in doctrine or behavior, warn those who sin, exhort and encourage those who are growing toward spiritual maturity, with inexhaustible patience and faithful teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine and accurate instruction that challenges them with God’s truth; but wanting to have their ears tickled with something pleasing, they will accumulate for themselves many teachers one after another, chosen to satisfy their own desires and to support the errors they hold, and will turn their ears away from the truth and will wander off into myths and man-made fictions and will accept the unacceptable. (AMP)
When the Boy was three we went through a season (a long, long season) of teaching him to tell the truth no matter what. His tendency was to lie even if he didn’t need to. There are reasons why he was like that…raising adopted children has it’s challenges. The Girl on the other hand is a natural truth teller. She has recently realized that she can lie to get out of trouble…for the most part, she tells the truth. Our little addition (who has a similar background to the Boy), tends to lie even when there is no reason to lie.
I cannot stand being lied to…it’s one of those things that irks me.
As a family and as a parent we have had to adopt a zero tolerance policy toward lying. What that means is, if you lie, even a small lie there will be a consequence. Since the kiddos are young, there is some grace in all of it. For example, I usually give them a second or third chance to tell me the truth. “Are you sure that is what happened?” and “You know you will get in more trouble for lying than for telling the truth.”
All this truth telling tends to get me in a place of being more honest with myself about how I feel and being even more honest with other people. Basically, in teaching the children to tell the truth, I am called to a higher personal standard of truth. I am naturally a person who sees things as black or white. I also grew up in a region where people tend to lie to each other to keep peace or make others feel comfortable.
Lying is not okay even if we are doing it to make someone else feel better or comfortable.
Lying is not okay even if we are doing it to “be supportive” of some someone’s choices.
Lying is not okay even if we are doing it to be liked or make friends.
Lying is not okay even if it gets us out of trouble.
Lying is not okay.
We wonder why “offense” occurs. There are many people who have read books about not being offended, etc. I haven’t. This is a personal experience belief. Offense occurs when we lie to each other about how we feel. “It’s okay. We are good. Things are good between you and me.” When it things are not okay, it isn’t good and things are not worked out. Be honest. “It happened”. I cannot control other people. I can forgive. Does forgiveness “fix” everything? No. I no longer feel that I have to say, “It’s okay.” if you come to me with excuses looking for me to comfort you when we both know, you could have and should have done things differently. It’s not okay. You are welcome to make a sincere apology and then things can be “okay” between us. (A little personal rant…makes me feel old too. I want to write something here about how “youngsters” do not take responsibility for their actions any more but we have ranted about the “younger generation” then we lie to them and say “it’s okay”, when in fact it isn’t. This mess is our fault too. )
It occurred to me that as a church, especially in the South, we have failed. We lie to each other. We say things are “okay” when they aren’t. We support things the Bible doesn’t support. It’s okay to abandon you marriage if you do not want to forgive your spouse. It is okay to date that non-believer if you really like him. It is okay to go for a “girl’s night out at a strip club”. It’s okay to “live together” when you aren’t married to each other. Nope. Shut it down. None of these things are okay. If we would tell each other the truth a new level of accountability would naturally occur. No one wants to hear truth because with truth comes accountability. Accountability is a bad word in our trendy churches.
An example…a couple is splitting up because the husband isn’t a believer (not unfaithful, not abusive…just doesn’t believe). We rally around the wife and say, “I’m praying or you.” “You are going to be okay.” “God is taking care of you.” What about what the Bible says about it? The Bible says in I Corinthians 7 that unbelief is not a reason to divorce. Is anyone willing to gently say this? Or do we blindly support decisions so everyone can feel good about themselves?
When did self-esteem become more important than God’s Word?
We must stop trying to make everyone feel better about themselves and tell the truth.
A while back I wrote a blog, “If you have to ask“. We do it all the time. We ask people their opinion about who we are dating, how we are parenting, how we treat our friends, etc so our actions can be justified. There are few situations for mature believers in which we need to ask other people what they think about it. Those who are new believers, they may need guidance. If we are providing guidance to a young believer it is even more vital that we point them to the Bible and lead them in truth.
It is hard to be the one to tell the truth. Most of the time, people do not want to hear truth, they want to be told they are “okay”. I give you permission to speak the truth in a loving way. (not that you need my permission). It is easier to speak the truth in anger than in love. Love is the challenge. Love.
If you ask someone for their opinion or you ask for advise, be prepared to hear truth.
If you tell the truth, be prepared for it to NOT be received or acted on. That’s is okay. We can still be friends. I had a friend ask me what I thought of her dating a man who not a believer (she is a believer) who also so has some other issues (complicated and private). I told her, very nicely it was not right in the eyes of God and that I wouldn’t do it. I told her I love her and God sends good gift, He doesn’t send second best to His kids and I do not believe this man is God’s best. She is still dating him. That is between her and God. She is a grown woman. I believe she heard the truth and decided that she wants what she wants. We have all been there. My will doesn’t have to be done. I still love her. Do I think that it is wrong? Yes. Do I think she’s going to get hurt? Most likely. Have I been there? Yes. I did something so similar in my single days that it is not even funny. I had several friends who told me the truth and then shunned me when I didn’t comply with the truth. Did this help? No. I want to be the connection between people and God, even people who have wondered off from Him. There have been times in my life when I have needed someone to connect me back to God. I want to be that person for someone. That’s grace and that is love.
Let us stop telling each other everything is okay when it isn’t. Especially if “okay” is going against the Word of God (the Bible). It may be “okay” right now, but when we live outside of God’s Word there are consequences…maybe not today but one day you will understand why God says “no” on some things. The truth you speak may be what leads someone down a godly, healthy, fruitful path.
What about when someone has clearly wondered out of truth or is on the way and they haven’t asked for advise? Pray and wait. Pray for them and wait for God to put change in their hearts. Let God work on them. God can and does work things out for our good. If you pray for them, God may open a door for you to speak truth.
Speak that truth in love.