Category Archives: Proverbs

(becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6, part 5c: a heart that devises wicked schemes

Hearts cascading into each other, gradient

As we discussed in the last post, the problems of an unclean heart are major – and we cannot solve them ourselves.  That doesn’t mean our situation is hopeless, however.  There is one (and only one) cure for unclean hearts: God’s love.  Only God is able to transform our selfish hearts into selfless hearts, hearts filled with love for Him and for others.

This week we’ll look at the effects of that transformation.

Some of the effects of this transformation are visible.  When we have God’s love in our hearts, we can see a difference in the way we treat others:

Through [Jesus] you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.  Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.  For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.  (1 Peter 1:21-23)

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.  (1 Peter 3:15-16)

The verses above show that our clean hearts are often evident in our actions.  We obey God’s truth and show active love for others.  We are prepared to talk to others about our faith – but we do so with gentleness and respect.

In the last post, we discussed the close relationship also between the condition of our hearts and our words – but mostly with a focus on the negative.  In contrast, we see the positive aspects of this relationship when we have God’s love in our heart.  When His love is in our hearts, our words reflect that:

I have set the LORD always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices (Psalm 16:8-9a)

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.  (Romans 15:5-7)

And, as these verses, suggest, while we are dependent on God’s grace in all of this, He does not intend for either our hearts or our mouths to be passive in this process.  The Bible regularly encourages its readers to actively employ their hearts and mouths – and all they are – in service to God:

Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (Ephesians 5:19b-20)

In fact, the Bible teaches that both our hearts and our mouths play a part in our salvation.  Paul writes (referring to a passage from Deuteronomy),

But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.  (Romans 10:8-10)

And while (as Paul reminds us elsewhere) salvation is a gift from God that we can never earn, we must decide how to respond to God’s gift.  The response God calls us to begins in our hearts – but it cannot end there.  It isn’t just a feeling we get one day, and it’s not a matter of completing a church ritual.  A true belief will affect the way we live.  (As Paul also said, “‘I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds’” (Acts 26:20).)  A heart that truly accepts the love of God will respond with loving words and actions.

Again, please don’t get caught up in rituals here, which vary from culture to culture.  What matters is that our response to God’s gift of salvation changes us inside AND outside.

And of course, the most important part of having God’s love in our hearts is the effect it has on our relationship with Him.  When we have God’s love in our hearts, we are closer to God:

LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
Who may live on your holy hill?

He whose walk is blameless
and who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from his heart
and has no slander on his tongue,
who does his neighbor no wrong
and casts no slur on his fellowman,
who despises a vile man
but honors those who fear the LORD,
who keeps his oath
even when it hurts,
who lends his money without usury
and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

He who does these things
will never be shaken.  (Psalm 15)

As the passage above says, we can dwell with God when our hearts are right with Him.  And it is this relationship with God that provides us with assurance of our status as His beloved children:

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.  (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)

Furthermore, it is in this loving relationship with God that we find His joy and peace:

Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always.  (1 Chronicles 16:9-11)

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  (John 14:26-27)

Clean hearts – hearts transformed by God’s amazing love – are wonderful things.  However, as the last verse suggests, clean hearts can be hard to maintain.  So many things that can dirty our hearts beg for our attention.  Next week we’ll look at the problems our clean hearts face – and the resources God has provided for us in our struggle to keep our hearts clean.

Next Week: a heart that devises wicked schemes, part 4

Last Week: a heart that devises wicked schemes, part 2

Start of the Series: (becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6

 

Want to read more?

Can your marriage help the next generation?  I think so: why YOUR strong marriage matters to kids that aren’t yours

Is nagging our husbands really a problem?  Why I think it is: How culture is sabotaging our marriages

Feeling overwhelmed by all of your obligations?  Try: the superwoman complex or mary and martha

You know that annoying person you try to avoid?  Yeah, me too….: what to do about annoying people

Ready to ramp up your relationship with God?  Try: Quiet time OR Try: Constant Conversation

Start of the wisdom series: (becoming) wise, part one

Start of the fully submitted series: (becoming) fully submitted

Advertisements

(becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6, part 5b: a heart that devises wicked schemes

As we discussed last week, all of us have some issues with maintaining a clean heart.  So today we’re going to look at our hearts: where they start, the problems they face (and cause), and what God does (and wants) for our hearts.

Our hearts are naturally wicked.  They are naturally drawn to sin (selfishness), and, apart from God, they will remain in this state.

The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?  (Jeremiah 17:9)

As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”  (Romans 3:10-12)

This problem with our hearts has consequences:

King Rehoboam established himself firmly in Jerusalem and continued as king. He was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel in which to put his Name. His mother’s name was Naamah; she was an Ammonite.  He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the LORD.  (2 Chronicles 12:13-14)                                                                                                                                 

King Rehoboam’s heart was not set on seeking God – because of this, he did evil.  We simply cannot be good on our own.  Our goodness comes from setting our hearts on the One who is good.

Having selfish, unclean hearts causes a variety of problems for us and for those around us.  One way we can detect this problem is by recognizing the fruit our unclean hearts produce. 

One type of fruit we produce is our words.  Our hearts and our words have a very close relationship.  When our hearts are unclean, our words often reflect that.

Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.  The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.  (Luke 6:44-45)

The verse above reminds us that we can often tell by our words if our hearts are unclean.  I’m not talking here about specific “bad words.”  I’m speaking, instead, about whether or not our speech is full of love and directed towards God’s purposes.  We can use lots of very nice-sounding words and be directly opposed to God’s Will.  Likewise, some people whose speech is “rougher” are directly aligned with God’s Will.  I’m talking about motive, tone, purpose, and being aligned with God’s will – not about specific words –because nearly any word can be used to accomplish or oppose God’s purposes, and can come from a selfish or a God-serving heart.  Language is cultural; love and selfishness are not.  Are your words coming from the overflow of good or the overflow of evil in your heart?

While our words can indicate if our heart is clean or unclean, so can our actions.  The verse below reminds us what types of actions spring from an unclean heart.  (For specifics on some of these “fruits,” click on one of the underlined words in the verse.

He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’  For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and follyAll these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’” (Mark 7:20-23)

While many times our words and actions indicate the condition of our heart, Scripture also reminds us that not all the fruit of an unclean heart can be seen from the outside.  In fact, some people are able to hide their unclean hearts from the people around them for years.  [“The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.”  (1 Timothy 5:24)]  Most of us know these people.  They seem like such “good” people, but are later revealed not to be.  We’re surprised because they seemed “good” on the outside.  If you suspect you’re one of these people (that is, if you know you harbor envy, deceit, malice, hatred, etc., in your heart, and you aren’t allowing God to work on you in that area), remember the following: 

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.  But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.  Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.  (James 3:13-15)

Continuing to deny the truth about your heart will only lead to destruction.  Do not be proud that you have others fooled.  Turn to God in repentance and allow Him to begin His redemptive work.  Remember, even if you’ve fooled those around you, God is not fooled by people who pretend to love Him, but actually have unclean hearts:

The LORD does not look at the things man looks at.   Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.  (1 Samuel16:7b)

We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.  (1 Thessalonians 2:4b)

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.  (Hebrews 4:12-13)

In addition to leading to problematic words, actions, thoughts, and attitudes towards others, an unclean heart separates us from God – especially unclean hearts that we are not repentant about:

The Lord says:

“These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.

Their worship of me
is made up only of rules taught by men.  (Isaiah 29:13)

Again: God isn’t fooled by empty rituals or a strict following of church rules.  He sees through our attempts to whitewash our wicked hearts.  And He isn’t impressed by the fact that we say the “right” words in front of the “right” people.  And He certainly isn’t impressed when we try to earn our salvation by following church rules.

The problems of an unclean heart are major – and we cannot solve them ourselves.  That doesn’t mean our situation is hopeless, however.  There is one (and only one) cure for unclean hearts: God’s love.  Only God is able to transform our selfish hearts into selfless hearts, hearts filled with love for Him and for others.

Next week we’ll look more at this transformation.

 

Next Week: a heart that devises wicked schemes, part 3

Last Week: a heart that devises wicked schemes, part 1

Start of the Series: (becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6

 

Want to read more?

You know that annoying person you try to avoid?  Yeah, me too….: what to do about annoying people

Ready to ramp up your relationship with God?  Try: Quiet time OR Try: Constant Conversation

Feeling overwhelmed by all of your obligations?  Try: the superwoman complex or mary and martha

Can your marriage help the next generation?  I think so: why YOUR strong marriage matters to kids that aren’t yours

Is nagging our husbands really a problem?  Why I think it is: How culture is sabotaging our marriages

Start of the wisdom series: (becoming) wise, part one

Start of the fully submitted series: (becoming) fully submitted

(becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6, part 4: hands that shed innocent blood

There are six things the LORD hates,
   seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.  (Proverbs 6:16-19)

Hands that Shed Innocent Blood

Given that murder is the ultimate bloodshed, it’s important to remember John’s words: “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.”  –1 John 3:15

This is a powerful statement, especially given the Biblical definitions of “love” and “hate.”  The rest of this post will be written with John’s definition of “murder” in mind.

I think the questions about this item can be broken into two categories.  First, do I actively participate in this sin:

1. Do I intentionally harm innocent people?

Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach the fields of the fatherless, for their Defender is strong; he will take up their case against you.  (Proverbs 23:10-11)

Remember that God is the Defender of the innocent.  If you’re not the innocent in a given situation, who is your defender?

2. Do I seek to serve myself despite knowing that my actions will hurt others?

A wicked man accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the course of justice.  (Proverbs 17:23)

Are you willing harm others for the right price?  And remember, the “price” isn’t necessarily money.  It could be attention, preferential treatment, accolades, etc.  What is your price?

3. Do I seek to serve myself without considering how this might affect others?

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interest of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

It’s so easy for us to take action thoughtlessly.  We don’t set out to hurt others, we just don’t care if we do – at least not as much as we care about our own interests.  In the verse above, God asks us to “consider others” and to look “to the interests of others.”  He’s asking us to actively concern ourselves with how our actions affect those around us – and those far away.

The second category of questions deals with passively committing this sin:  Even if I’m not actively shedding innocent blood, am I doing anything to stop those who are?  And am I applying tourniquets to the wounded?  Some questions to consider in this regard:

4. Do I look for ways to help and protect the innocent?

It is not good to punish an innocent man, or to flog officials for their integrity.  (Proverbs 17:26)

Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent — the Lord detests them both.  (Proverbs 17:15)

Seeking to right injustices can seem like an incredibly daunting task – and no one person can take up every worthy cause.  However, we should be asking God what cause(s) He wants us involved in.  (For advice about how to help without becoming overwhelmed by the problems in our world, click here: avoiding the superwoman complex.)

5. Do I look for ways to help those who are hurting?

Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land.  (Proverbs 25:25)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

While some people are certainly more gifted at offering comfort to those who are hurting, we’re all capable of genuinely showing an interest in and a concern for other people.  Do you shy away from those opportunities?  Most of us wouldn’t let a man bleed to death, but many of us will watch a man grieve to death.

6. Do I stand up for those who need an advocate?

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)

As we discussed above, God is the ultimate defender of the innocent — but He wants us to be involved in this work.  In many situations, this means actively opposing their oppressors.  In such cases, there is a temptation to fool ourselves into thinking that we can remain neutral.  We can’t.  In such cases, remaining “neutral” is just a cowardly attempt to abandon the weak to their oppressors without making ourselves look bad.  God is not fooled:

 10 If you falter in times of trouble,
how small is your strength!

 11 Rescue those being led away to death;
hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?  (Proverbs 24:10-12)

God is not neutral in such situations, and when He calls us to advocate for the innocent, He has called us to His side.  We can accept His call or reject it, but we can’t stay neutral.  God has chosen His side.  Which side are you on?

Challenge: This week, go beyond not actively shedding innocent blood, and ask God how you He would have you protect the innocent and bandage the wounded.

Next Week: a heart that devises wicked schemes

Last Week: a lying tongue, part 3c

Start of the Series: (becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6

Want to read more?

You know that annoying person you try to avoid?  Yeah, me too….: what to do about annoying people

Ready to ramp up your relationship with God?  Try: Quiet time OR Try: Constant Conversation

Feeling overwhelmed by all of your obligations?  Try: the superwoman complex or mary and martha

Can your marriage help the next generation?  I think so: why YOUR strong marriage matters to kids that aren’t yours

Is nagging our husbands really a problem?  Why I think it is: How culture is sabotaging our marriages

Start of the wisdom series: (becoming) wise, part one

Start of the fully submitted series: (becoming) fully submitted

(becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6, part 3c: a lying tongue (continued again)

Last week we looked at some of the negative consequences of lying.  As we discussed, lying damages our relationships with others and our relationships with God. We ended, though, with a peek at the wonderful effects of honesty!  Today we’re going to look at some other blessings of honesty.  For instance:

The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.  (Proverbs 15:4)

Our tongues have great power, and a deceitful tongue can crush a spirit in a number of ways.  Clearly, lies told specifically to hurt someone can crush that person’s spirit.  But that’s not all.  As we discussed last week, our lies can also crush the precious spirits under our authority –/, by destroying our credibility, their trust and/or morale, and potentially their characters as well.  And our lies can also crush our own spirits, by quenching the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  But the opposite is also true: an honest, healing tongue gives life.  It gives life by rightly rewarding honesty and hard work in others.  It gives life by setting a strong example for those under our care.  And it gives life by bringing us closer to God and involving us in the life-giving work of His Holy Spirit in our lives.

An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.  (Proverbs 24:26)

I love this simile.  Just as “a lying tongue hates those it hurts,” so honesty can be a beautiful act of love.

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.  (Colossians 3:9-10)

Lying indicates a return to the old man.  Honesty, on the other hand, brings us closer to God and His good design for us and our relationships.  As new creations, we are being renewed in God’s image – and honesty is part of that process.

A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.  (Proverbs 22:1)

This proverb questions what we value.  Is gaining wealth (or privilege, or our way in some petty matter, or whatever we’re after) worth ruining our reputations over?  God says no.  And, ultimately, it’s God’s approval that we should seek.  Honesty doesn’t just improve our reputations in the eyes of others, but – far more importantly – in the eyes of God. 

And so, finally, it’s important to look again at how God feels about lying.  (As Jesus asked, “How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44))  And while He tells us in Proverbs 6 that He hates lying, that’s certainly not the only place He mentions it.  Consider just a couple of examples:

The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.  (Proverbs 12:22) 

Truthfulness is a delight to the Lord.  Think about that.  Oftentimes we detach ourselves from Scripture by focusing on rules and forgetting their purpose: Our relationships with God.  Don’t make this mistake.  Your relationship with God is your most important relationship, on earth and for eternity.  Given that, shouldn’t you want to do things that delight Him, instead of things He detests?

Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth.  (Proverbs 16:13)

God, as the ultimate King, takes pleasure in us when we’re honest!

 So this week, consider your level of honesty in all of your interactions.  “Make it [y]our goal to please Him” (2 Corinthians 5:9).  Prayerfully consider, too, how any damage you’ve caused by lying can be undone.

Next Week: hands that shed innocent blood

Last Week: a lying tongue, continued

Start of the Series: (becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6

Want to read more?

Start of the wisdom series: (becoming) wise, part one

Start of the role model series: (becoming) a role model, part one

Start of the stewardship series: (becoming) a good steward

Start of the wife series: (becoming) a godly wife

Start the fully submitted series: (becoming) fully submitted

(becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6, part 3b: a lying tongue (continued)

As we discussed last week, breaking the habit of lying is very important.  However, even for those of us who don’t consistently lie, this occasional sin can still be very damaging.  [To see the list of questions from last week, click here: lying questions.]

First, I think it’s important to recognize the ramifications of lying.  Many of us start out with small lies — lies designed to avoid some small conflict or to get our way in some petty matter or to present our side of some minor disagreement in a slightly better light.  One problem with this is that once people know we lie, they know we’re liars. 

If I know a person will lie about a minor event just to avoid facing a small consequence, I have no reason to believe that person will be honest with me about important issues.  As Jesus said, “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” (Luke 16:10).  And while I still have a responsibility to love that person, I can’t really trust her, and we can only ever be so close.  This is unfortunate when it happens between casual acquaintances, but it’s heartbreaking when it happens between close friends or family members.  When you can’t trust your husband or wife — the person in the world you should be closest to — it’s often much more difficult to trust anyone.  And when children can’t trust their parents, their ability to trust others is often distorted as well.  The ramifications of lying aren’t small.  Even when a lie seems small, the effects are big. 

And lying doesn’t just erode trust; it can also corrupt the character of those around us.  As Proverbs 29:12 reminds us: “If a ruler listens to lies, all his officials become wicked.”  If parents (or others in positions of authority) listen to, believe, and even reward lies, those under their care will be much more likely to lie.  If my students see a classmate lie to me, and see that lying gets him out of trouble, other students may be tempted to lie to me too.  This is one reason why it’s so important for parents and others in positions of authority to be discerning.  It also stands to reason that if those under our care see us lying, they will also be tempted to lie.

And this corrupting of others’ characters is problematic for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that “Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right”  (Proverbs 20:11).  When our lying or acceptance of lies corrupts the character of our children (or others under our authority), their reputations and relationships eventually suffer as well.   This process backs up what we’re told in Proverbs 26:28a: “A lying tongue hates those it hurts.”  When we properly understand “love” as in terms of selfless service, it’s easy to see the hatefulness of our lies – which are almost always told out of selfishness (for self-preservation, self-esteem, etc.).

In the end, lying is sin (selfishness) that puts our (often short-term) desires in front of the best interests of others (often others who have been placed in our care).

The consequences above focus on others.  It’s important, too, to look at what lying does to the liar.  For instance:

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.  (Proverbs 11:3)

Our lies will eventually catch up to us.  Even if no particular lie has catastrophic consequences, the erosion of trust in our relationships often does – consequences such as divorce, a choice that damages everyone involved in the process.  And lying damages the most important relationship in our lives: our relationship with God.  Sin separates us from God.  With each lie we tell, we take a step away from God.  [Consider how far away your lies have taken you from God.]

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only for a moment.  (Proverbs 12:19)

A man of perverse heart does not prosper; he whose tongue is deceitful falls into trouble.  (Proverbs 17:20) 

It often doesn’t take too long (in the grand scheme of things) for a lie to be found out, even here on earth.  But even lies that are taken to the grave have extreme eternal consequences – because even lies that fool those around us don’t fool God.  Lies will ultimately cause us to “fall into trouble” with the one who has the power of life and death over us, our ultimate Judge.

“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.”  (Matthew 12:36)

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.  (2 Corinthians 5:10)

As we discussed in the previous post, one fear liars often have to live with is the fear of being found out.  God assures us in the verses above, we’ve already been found out.  And one day, we’ll have to own up to each lie.  There is no getting out of this, no moment when you’ve finally outrun your lie.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  (Galatians 6:7-8)

When we fool those around us with our lies (at least temporarily), we often think we’ve gotten away with something.  We haven’t.  God cannot be fooled or mocked.  Our concern for concealing our dishonesty is a mockery to God.  Either we think we’ve gotten one over on God (we haven’t), or we’ve forgotten about His role in this entirely (bad idea).

There is, of course, good news!  The end of the verse above reminds us that when we live in the Spirit (which will produce honesty, among other things), we reap eternal life.  Nothing is better than that!  There are, however, other advantages to telling the truth, even for our lives today.  We’ll look at those next week!

Next Week: a lying tongue, continued again

Last Week: a lying tongue

Start of the Series: (becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6

Want to read more?

Start of the wisdom series: (becoming) wise, part one

Start of the role model series: (becoming) a role model, part one

Start of the stewardship series: (becoming) a good steward

Start of the wife series: (becoming) a godly wife

Start the fully submitted series: (becoming) fully submitted

(becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6, part 3a: a lying tongue

There are six things the LORD hates,
   seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.  (Proverbs 6:16-19)

[A caveat before I begin: I’m not claiming is this post that lying is never okay.  For instance, if, during the Holocaust, you were hiding a Jewish family in your home and lied to Nazis about it, you wouldn’t be doing anything wrong (as far as I understand the Bible and God).  But those instances are pretty rare, and they don’t do anything to undermine the general rule against lying.  If you’re put in a position where you have to choose between lying and causing an innocent person to be killed, your duty is probably going to be to protect that person, even if it means lying.  But this is hardly the setting of most of our lies.  Far more often, we lie to keep ourselves out of trouble or to make ourselves look better than we are, etc.  So while I fully accept that there are times when lying is the best way to serve God (as in the Holocaust example), such cases are clearly the exception – and our typical self-serving lies clearly don’t serve Him.]

A Lying Tongue

Out of seven things listed as detestable to God in this portion of Scripture, two of them involve lying.  Over 25% of them.  Let that sink in for a moment.

Below are some questions that might help you take stock of where you stand on this “detestable” practice.  As I said in the previous post, allow yourself to answer honestly.  This is between you and God (unless He tells you to involve someone else) and He already knows the truth.  Don’t lie to God about lying.

1. Do I lie?

2. Do I omit things from the truth in an attempt to deceive?

3. Do I stay quiet in order to allow people to assume things that aren’t true?  In what situations am I most likely to do this?

4. Do I lie to avoid getting into trouble or facing a conflict with someone?

5. Do I avoid situations where I might have to own up to something?

6. Do I try to hide things from others?  Why?  What are my motives for such deception?

7. Do I try to hide things from God?  Why?  What are my motives for such deception?

8. Before I take an action or make a decision, do I take time to review my plans and decisions (and motives) to make sure they’re honest?

9. Has lying become so engrained in my character that I don’t even notice when I do it?

I’d like to say a little about number 9 before addressing the list as a whole: This one might be difficult to answer, since, if it’s true, you probably don’t notice it.  But you likely know if you’re at risk of this.  So, here’s what I’d encourage you to do: Pay careful attention this week to your level of honesty.  Commit to asking yourself if you’re telling the whole truth each time you speak.  If you find a pattern of lying (or “fibbing” or “fudging” or whatever you want to call it) that you didn’t realize existed, please start working hard on correcting this issue.  I can tell you from experience that life becomes much simpler and much sweeter and much less stressful when you correct this problem.  I know that it seems like things might become more complicated or difficult or stressful – and they may, at first – but God rewards repentance (a true turning from sin).  And one of the rewards of honesty that I’ve observed is peace.  I pray you’ll be similarly blessed.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that once you break the habit of lying, it actually becomes more difficult and painful to lie.  You become much more attuned to your level of honesty and more aware of your motives.  I don’t worry too much now about telling the truth (even if there are consequences).  When I do find myself in a position where I’m tempted to tell a half-truth (which, if we’re honest, is a lie, no matter what we call it), I’m typically very aware of the choice I’m making when I choose to lie.  And I spend far more time worrying about the consequences of the lie than I would have spent worrying about the consequences of the truth.  All that is to say: If you find yourself in a pattern of lying, while getting out can be hard, one of the rewards of getting out is that staying out gets easier and easier.

Okay, so, looking back at questions 1-8 above, most of us can answer “yes” to at least part of one of the questions.  This is a bigger deal than we like to think (God doesn’t hate this for no reason), and next week we’ll take a look at why.

 

Click here for the previous post in this series: (becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6 — Haughty Eyes

Click here for the beginning of the series: (becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6

Want to read more?

You know that annoying person you try to avoid?  Yeah, me too….: what to do about annoying people

Ready to ramp up your relationship with God?  Try: Quiet time OR Try: Constant Conversation

Feeling overwhelmed by all of your obligations?  Try: the superwoman complex or mary and martha

Can your marriage help the next generation?  I think so: why YOUR strong marriage matters to kids that aren’t yours

Start of the wisdom series: (becoming) wise, part one

Start of the fully submitted series: (becoming) fully submitted

 

%d bloggers like this: