Not everyone tells the truth. Not everyone can be trusted. There are many people who tell lies habitually, i.e. it is their practice. Many times they believe their own lies, too, and even if they do hear the truth, and even if they do acknowledge the truth some of the time, “when the rubber meets the road,” i.e. “the point at which a theory or idea is put to a practical test,” (1) they revert right back to the familiar lies they have always told others, including the ones they have told themselves. And, it is a vicious cycle.
The Lord Jesus led me to read Philippians 1:15-21 (NIV).
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Vv. 15-18a
Is it possible to tell the truth and lie at the same time? I think that is what this is about. Technically, what someone says may be truth, including biblical truth, but the lie is that they don’t really believe what they are preaching or teaching, because they are not putting it into practice themselves. They know intellectually that what they are pontificating is truth, but it is not a reality in their own lives, thus what they are doing is living a lie. They are talking beyond their walk, while giving the impression that they are living what they are preaching. Jesus had a name for this: hypocrite.
This is certainly not to say that we have to reach sinless perfection before we can teach the Word of God to others, but we should not be lecturing others on what they should be doing if we are doing the opposite, i.e. if we are not putting those truths into practice. And, especially this is true if we are giving the impression that we are following the truth which we are professing, by not admitting our own shortcomings in those areas. Thus, we should not be preaching in order to give a false impression of ourselves, either to puff ourselves up, or for the purpose to make another look bad. We need to walk the talk, in other words, and not just give lip service only.
But, if the truth is being preached, we should thank God for that. Many are not preaching the truth at all. And, that is a very sad reality indeed.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. Vv. 18b-19
It is difficult to understand how, if someone is preaching biblical truth, that it can be harmful to another, or how that would equate persecuting another. For, it is clear that Paul was giving praise to God that truth was being preached, and he would not do that if the person was teaching a false gospel. Yet, the truth was being preached from impure motives, and the motives apparently were to somehow hurt the ministry of the apostle.
Several things come to mind here, though. One of them is that someone, who may be sinning against another, and about whom the offended party was trying to seek help, might put on a show of righteousness to try to make themselves appear to be above board when truly they are not. What this would do, then, is to make the offended party look bad, and to try to get others to rally around themselves and to reject anything the offended party might try to say, so that they could continue in their sin unhindered.
Another thing that comes to mind, and this is not in the realm of biblical truth, is that we can speak truth about someone but to do so with wrong (impure) motives, wishing to harm that other person, and not for the purpose to help him or her. This would be something, although true, that is said out of spite, to get even with someone, and to cause them harm. So, if we must speak the truth, we must do so with God-like love that truly has that person’s welfare (wholeness) as the top priority, or which has other people’s wholeness in mind, because other people might be believing their lies. This might be warning people about false teachers and false gospels.
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Vv. 20-21
The bottom line here is that we can injure others, perhaps on purpose, because of impure motives, by giving people false impressions, which are lies, and which lead people to believe things which are just not true, and which might lead people to reject someone who is truly walking in uprightness with God, all the while appearing righteous ourselves. And, we might do this because we are jealous of the other person, too.
But, if we are the injured party, and we are being faced with this kind of treatment from others, ourselves, we can be encouraged that Jesus went through the same stuff for us, so we are not alone. We can follow his example in how he responded to unfair treatment all throughout his ministry. And, we can realize that Jesus suffered for us, not just so he could save us from our sins, but so he could sympathize with us in our suffering.
We need to have this attitude that our lives are no longer our own, for we were bought back for God with the blood of Jesus Christ, shed on a cross for us, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. We must understand, as well, that we are not only called to holiness and righteousness, but we are called to suffer for the sake of the name of Jesus, and for the sake of his gospel, so we should rejoice that we are being counted worthy to suffer for the sake of his gospel. Amen!
If our lives are in Christ Jesus, and they are his, to be lived for his purposes, and our lives truly are about serving our Lord and being Jesus to the world, then we must accept persecution as par for the course, and we should not let it discourage us or “take us out,” as the saying goes. We should keep pressing on in the power and working of the Holy Spirit in our lives in doing what God has called us to do, and give our persecutors over to the Lord.
And, we must forgive them, whoever they are, and no matter what they have done to us. But, forgiveness is not blindness when it comes to sin. It is freeing the offender from the penalty of their sin, but it is not going soft on sin, for this is how God forgives us. He doesn’t ignore our sin, but he delivers us out of our sin. Forgiveness should always have as its goal to see the other person, if they are still living, to also know Jesus Christ and his grace and healing, and his deliverance from bondage to sin.
Depending on the situation, we might be part of that process, or we may be someone who can only pray for the person to know the grace of God in their lives, and to find true freedom from their bondage to sin to where they are no longer those who practice lying and deceiving, but they are truth tellers.
All Through the Night
An Original Work / December 7, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures
Blessed are you when you’re persecuted
Because of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Blessed are you when people insult you,
And falsely say what leads folks to doubt.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
Great in the heavens. You’re not alone.
When you are persecuted in one place,
Flee to another. God will be there.
You will be hated by all the nations
Because you testify of God’s grace.
Many will seize you and persecute you,
And put to death the foll’wers of Christ.
Yet, do not fear what humans may do to you,
For I’m with you all through the night.
I tell you, love your enemies with my love,
And forgive as I forgave you.
Pray for those who do evil against you.
Rest in my love and grace from above.
Tuesday, December 19, 2017, 6:58 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for what you did for us in dying for our sins so that we can be free from our slavery to sin and we can walk in your righteousness and holiness, by your grace. Amen!
(1) Google Dictionary definition of “When the rubber meets the road.”