David Pressgrove: Truth filter: Learning to make honesty our policy
In the movie “Liar, Liar” the main character finds success by lying.
His lying is so bad that when his son is asked what his dad does for a living, he says, “My dad’s a liar.” (He’s actually a lawyer – say both out loud to hear the play on words).
A wish from his son requires the character to only tell the truth. Initially, his struggle to tell the truth is portrayed as nearly impossible.
Obviously the movie is an exaggeration, but sometimes I think we convince ourselves it is easier to be dishonest.
Think about a time you have lied lately. Why did you think it was easier to tell a lie than tell the truth?
Christians believe that the best example of truth tell was Jesus. In fact, maybe Jesus most controversial statement was, “I am the truth.”
During Jesus’ most well-known message, recorded in Matthew 5 – 7, he addressed truth in Matthew 5:33-37. In the message Jesus spoke to his audience about oaths.
He said: “You have head that is was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made…all you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.’”
Jesus basically said that in the past, people would give oaths when something was really important, and they were expected to keep those oaths. But he looked at that idea and asks: “Why do we need to make oaths? Does that mean that when you don’t make an oath, you don’t have to be honest?”
From what I best understand, Jesus said: “What’s the point? I say lets throw these silly oaths out the window, let’s just be honest all the time.”
As I studied the passage, the revelation to me was that there is more beyond the message of honesty. We can see Jesus’ ultimate mission in his words.
Before Jesus, the Israelites and God related with oaths. The Isrealites would make a oath (a.k.a. a covenant) to God and then in their brokenness they would disobey it.
If Jesus is indeed, “the truth,” then he eradicates the need for oaths. We are reconciled back to God through his death and resurrection. Jesus came as the final oath between God and humans. Jesus’ death signed and his resurrection sealed away any need for more empty promises.
One thing we struggle with is trying to define what a relationship with God looks like. The statement, “All you need to say is simply yes or no,” was Jesus’ definition of a relationship with him. At some point in your life have you said yes to Jesus? Since then how many times have you said “no.” How do you grow in your faith? You continually say Yes to Jesus. Each day we are, in Paul’s words, “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Yet, we are all still guilty of giving God oaths. We tell God: “If you do this for me, then I’ll go back to church or start reading the Bible or go help with the soup kitchen or fill in the blank.”
Just like the protaganist in “Liar, Liar” we can get caught up in dishonesty, which in turn leads to saying, “no” to Jesus. What steps can we take toward honesty? My best attempt is look to the one who is “The truth.”