LifeLink Devotions (click link for audio version)
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
If we are going to have REAL church, and the church is made up people who live in eternal relationship with Jesus, then those people should have some distinguishing characteristics. As the Apostle Paul defines the people of the church in Ephesians 4:17-5:2 he lists nine specific behaviors that will be visible in the lives of God’s people.
The first characteristic of mature behavior is to BE HONEST.
Ephesians 4:25 “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”
The context here is how we behave in our conversations with others. I think we can also apply this principle to other forms of honesty as well. Honesty must go deeper than just telling the truth – it must go to the heart and the motives for all that is spoken or done. We must be willing to look at our intentions for what we say and do to determine if we are truly being honest. Let me illustrate.
Little Johnnie and his brother Billy are playing in the yard. Johnnie has always felt a little inferior to Billy, and looks for every opportunity to build himself up and feel better about himself, especially if it can be at the expense of Billy. Both the boys have been clearly informed of the rules and boundaries of the yard, but on this day Billy gets adventurous and wanders outside the perimeter into an ornery neighbor’s yard. Rather than go after Billy and try to coax him back, Johnnie seizes the opportunity for increased standing with mom by going in the house and telling her, “Mom, Billy’s in the neighbor’s yard, and because I didn’t want to break the rules too I didn’t go after him but I came and got you. I love you, Mom.”
Now Johnnie told the truth, but he was not being honest about who he was as a person while doing it. He purposefully got someone else in trouble because of his own need for approval, rather than demonstrating a true heart of concern for his brother’s needs.
I wonder how many of our behaviors and words are designed for personal benefit rather than for the benefit of others. Our Scripture verse says that honesty is important because “we are all members of one body.” No one purposefully uses one part of their body to hurt another part just because the first part needs to feel better. If my right hand is lonely and needs attention it does not reach out and pinch the left arm thinking that somehow the rest of the body will respond with approval. Quite the opposite – all the attention will go to the hurting part and the efficiency of the whole body is minimized. The body becomes introspective and ingrown because it is always having to deal with the pains of hurting and hurtful parts. Dishonesty causes disharmony, which causes disunity, which causes disdain, which causes disapproval. The church ceases to function effectively as a witness to the love of God in Christ Jesus. And it all started with a word or action motivated by selfish gain.
Let’s be honest with our words, our motives, and our actions, so that the body is built up to full-functioning status accomplishing the glorious purpose of God – to be a place where the hurting can come for healing not more hurting.