Tuesday, April 16, 2019
When I was 6 years old I went along with my mom to the local pharmacy in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. They had a toy section and I knew there had to be something there that would make my life more fun and fulfilling. While mom was getting her things, I got mine. It was a red ball, about the size of a golf ball, and it fit perfectly into my pocket. We walked out of the store and it was mine…for a while.
I couldn’t contain my excitement so on the way home I took the ball out and started tossing it in the air. Of course, mom noticed, and asked me where I got it. I lied. I said I had found it. Unfortunately for me, the price sticker was still on the ball, so my deception fell apart quickly. She turned the car around and marched me right back into that store where I had to confess what I had done to the owner of the store. I was humiliated.
At the time I thought about all the lessons I could learn from this, but every one of them was an extension of the underlying problem. I thought about how to get away with it the next time: take off the price tag…scuff up the ball so it looks used…leave it in my pocket longer…and so on. But every one of those thoughts was a temptation by Satan to hide the sin and avoid the consequences. The real lesson I should have learned that day is this – I must take personal responsibility for my choices, and when I do there is forgiveness and restoration.
The real motivation behind lying is not to avoid consequences, but rather to protect personal value and worth. When we really think about it, the consequences of our choices are not nearly so frightening as the thought of having a diminished value in the eyes of another person. That’s what really hurts, and that’s what causes our lying. Lying is an attempt to please people, and the primary person we are trying to please is self.
In our study of faith from the life of Moses, we learn an important lesson from Aaron today.
Exodus 32:21-24 Moses said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?” “Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”
Aaron told a stupid lie when he claimed that the golden calf created itself. Did he think that because Moses had just been in the presence of God that he would easily believe any miracle? When self-protection mode is engaged in our lives we can easily be convinced to do and say anything that appears to benefit us. Aaron may have feared that Moses’ opinion of his leadership qualities and spiritual maturity would be diminished, so he tried to protect his reputation with a lie. So blindingly powerful is this need for self-protection that logic is thrown out the window. It was so very easy for Moses to disprove Aaron’s statement simply by asking other witnesses what happened. But Aaron’s lie was so rooted in pride that he believed that his word was more influential and trustworthy than anyone else’s word. Moses would have no reason to doubt him even though the preponderance of evidence was against him.
We have all been in this situation, and we have all been at the crossroads where the paths of humility and pride meet and bring us to a moment of decision. Moses brought the people to that crossroad when he declared to them, “Whoever is for the LORD, come to me.” He gave the guilty people a chance for forgiveness and restoration. Those who responded received both.
You may be at that crossroad today and must choose between faithfulness to God and faithfulness to self. Be careful. The choice of pride will end in destruction. The choice of humble personal responsibility will honor God and bring life. Choose wisely.