Seriously. For real though. Just saying. If I’m being honest. Honestly though…being honest is sometimes hard. Not necessarily in the “Hey, I stole all of your money,” kind of honesty (although if stealing is an issue for you, you might want to deal with that) but more in the “This is who I am, and it’s not pretty” kind of way.
I have a child, who shall remain nameless, who struggles to be honest when she get’s called out. She is always very quick to have a reason why she did what she did. And, oh my, is she convincing. I can’t always tell if she’s speaking truth or not. I suspect she get’s away with a lot more than I realize.
I think we adults get away with more than we realize, too…or so we think. We would probably all say that we are honest people, as in we aren’t stealing other people’s money, but there is a level of honesty that is often absent from our lives.
When faced with admitting that we are not as good as we would like others to think we are, we are pretty quick to have a reason why we are the way we are. It usually sounds more like,
“Well, I misunderstood what was said,” no we didn’t.
“Well, my calendar was already filled up,” no it wasn’t.
“Well, we had some unexpected expenses,” nope.
“Well, my dad never hugged me,” sorry ‘bout that…but still not ok.
“Well, at least I’m not as bad as that guy,” um…yeah we are.
That last one is probably our favorite. At least we aren’t as ___________________ as that guy (fill in that blank with whatever floats your boat…lazy, sleezy, self-centered, ugly…whatever).
We have to ask ourselves the same question we ask our kids when they lie to us. Why do we lie? My kids usually answer that question with a shrug. We probably would too.
I would like to suggest that the reason we lie is simply that we are trying to appear more righteous than we actually are. We don’t want people to know how badly we need to be saved, so we point out the reasons why we are the way we are, as though that makes it ok. We compare ourselves to those who seem less righteous than us so that we don’t look so bad. Psychologists call this deflecting (doesn’t sound so bad). God calls it lying (oops-that sounds bad).
But hey, we aren’t the only one’s who do this. It is, after all, not our fault that we do this. It’s really Adam and Eve’s fault (see what I did there? I might be a deflecting master *pats herself on the back). They’re the ones who messed up first and ruined all of us in the process. And what did they do? Lied…uh…I mean deflected. Adam said, “Hey, it was the woman who did it.” Eve said, “Hey, the devil made me do it.” Hmmm…sorta true, but if we’re being honest, they are all responsible for what happened.
What is it that I want to teach my children? To own up. To admit that they’ve done wrong. To stop trying to spin the truth to make it seem better than it really is. To confess that they need forgiveness. I suspect God wants the grown ups to learn the same thing.
This isn’t easy. In fact, it’s humiliating. I don’t like admitting that I am wrong. I love the feeling of being right. I enjoy reveling in the satisfaction that I’m doing better than everyone around me…oh, dear.
There is a lovely little story in the Bible that I read this week about a married couple who had an issue with self-righteousness (Acts 5:1-11). There names were Ananias and Sapphira. They waltzed into church one day claiming to be very generous by giving all of the proceeds of a property they had sold to the church to help those in need. They were lying. They kept some of the money for themselves. It didn’t end well for them. They stopped breathing and dropped dead where they stood, right there in front of the disciples. Was the issue that they didn’t give all of their money? No. Peter makes it clear that wasn’t the issue (vs. 4). The issue was they lied about their generosity. They lied to God. After all Jesus had done to cover them with his righteousness, they were still trying to cover themselves with their own righteousness. Like Adam and Eve’s inadequate fig leaves, they pretended they had their sin under control apart from Christ and were able to be good people all by themselves. Does this sound familiar to you? It does to me.
I would always rather that people thought well of me. I want everyone to be my friend and think I’m a nice gal. I want to appear to have my junk well hidden and under control. Milton Vincent’s words remind me of the truth,
“The Cross also exposes me before the eyes of other people, informing them of the depth of my depravity. If I wanted others to think highly of me, I would conceal the fact that a shameful slaughter of the perfect Son of God was required that I might be saved. But when I stand at the the foot of the Cross and am seen by others under the light of that Cross, I am left uncomfortably exposed before their eyes. Indeed, the most humiliating gossip that could ever be whispered about me is blared form Golgotha’s hill; and my self-righteous reputation is left in ruins in the wake of it’s revelations. With the worst facts about me thus exposed to the view of others, I find myself feeling that I truly have nothing left to hide.”
So there it is, Friends. My sin required the “shameful slaughter of the perfect Son of God”. I have no way to spin that truth to make it sound better or less humiliating. I am exposed by the truth of the Gospel.
But that’s not all…
I am also covered by the truth of the Gospel. Sound like a contradiction? Let's see. While Jesus’ work on the cross exposes me for who I am, it also covers me with his righteousness. It exchanges my wretched, wicked heart for a completely new one. I am no longer humiliated by my sin, because Jesus has taken my humiliation on himself and I can now be clothed in his righteousness.
I no longer need to try to spin the truth to appear more righteous, but rather allow the truth to be revealed so that I can be known for who I am now…a child of God, fully clothed in Jesus’ righteousness. That sounds so much better than any lie or self-righteous behavior I could try to cover up with.
This is the truth we must accept for ourselves if we are to share it with our children. How do we do this? By being honest. For real though. Seriously. One the best ways to teach our children how to confess sin is by modeling confession for them. When we make mistakes as parents, which we all do, we have a beautiful opportunity to demonstrate repentance by actually speaking the truth to our children. This means saying, “Mommy messed up. I shouldn’t have done/said that. Will you please forgive me?” We must resist the urge to excuse our behavior just because we are the grown ups, like we somehow don’t have to abide by the same standard we are setting for our children. It’s important for our children to understand that “None is righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10) even Mom and Dad.
My prayer for you and me today, is that we will resist the urge to lie about who we are. I pray that our hearts will be transformed by the truth, and that truth will set us free from our feeble attempts at self-righteousness. I pray that we will model repentance faithfully for our children, so that they too can learn to trust in Jesus and his righteousness alone.
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 2 Timothy 1:15-16
For the word of God is living and active, sharper that any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:12-13