My mom died suddenly a month ago. She was my best friend and confidante, one of the only people on the planet who would be completely honest with me when she saw me wandering down the wrong path. She would not hesitate to tell me that she thought I was making a bad decision or thinking wrongly. The reality is that she was not always right. Sometimes what she saw as danger zones were actually good things that she did not completely understand.
But now that Mom is gone, I can see clearly that all of her advice, right or wrong, was coming from a place of truth in love. Even when she knew I was going to be as angry as a wet cat and just as confrontational, she still spoke up, not to drive me crazy, but to try to protect me.
I get very angry when people are not honest with me, whether it is by telling so-called “half truths” or just flat out lying to me. But as usual, as I examine myself, I’m no different than they are.
In Sunday’s sermon, Pastor Nate posed the question, Do you tell people just what they want to hear so they don’t dislike or reject you? My answer to that is, absolutely!
Paul’s struggle in Galatians was based on being rejected because he spoke truth that the church did not want to hear. Honesty is hard work. It means following the Spirit, knowing what to say to whom, and going through the sometimes agonizing process of dealing with the anger and rejection of those closest to you.
It is so much simpler to lie, to say something is ok when it’s not, to smile and nod, to avoid confrontation so you don’t “rock the boat” of a relationship. In this case, one doesn’t have to prayerfully discern anything or say anything potentially confrontational. It’s the easy way out.
The “easy way out” is a form of idolatry. It’s putting one’s own personal comfort and approval ahead of what God calls us to in relationship with others. Dealing honestly is one of the “elementary principles” we should have mastered as followers of Christ and too often don’t master at all. I personally would rather sit and stew on an issue than deal with it head on because it requires no risk or effort on my part to just simmer and brood.
I take this easy way out all the time. I often don’t confront friends and family who need to be confronted. When I do finally deal with an issue, it’s usually out of a place of anger with the accompanying profanity and meanness that go along with utter frustration. It is anything but speaking the truth in love. If I followed God’s plan for honesty in the first place, I wouldn’t get to a spot where I speak ugly things that are not glorifying to Him.
The easy route ends up being the wrong route, every single time.
God wants us to do the hard work of honesty not because he wants to see us squirm. He wants us to do all things well, to become more and more like Him. He knows that our relationships and minds would be much healthier with significant doses of honesty. He also knows that we will need His mercy and grace over and over and over again to even begin to practice this. The good news is that He will provide this mercy and grace as we start and stumble and succeed on the journey.
A journey means getting started. This is a tough call to action for me, but I see that we will all have healthier communities and more God-centered hearts if we intentionally practice honesty.