Climbing mounting Mt. Everest. Going through a divorce. Surviving cancer. Losing a child to death. Growing old. Though none of these compare in the nature of their experience, what they have in common is that they are all extremely difficult to endure. People often converse about the difficult things they have gone through in life. There is one that people would never add to this list and yet in my opinion and experience, may be the most difficult of all! And please, as I reveal what this is, do not get defensive or self-righteous and deny it.
Most people fail at it. If I tell you what I believe the most difficult thing for people to learn and do is. You might laugh or think I’m crazy but I’ll take the risk. It’s to learn to tell the truth all the time. You may initially think, I always tell the truth. I’m sorry but that probably isn’t true. Most people don’t. Pay close attention to everything that comes out your mouth for one day and you may agree that I’m right.
Most people are afraid to tell the truth. Some for obvious reasons – they fear the consequences if people find out the truth of their thoughts or actions. But even beyond that there is a whole lot of lying going on. People shade the truth constantly. They are afraid to tell the truth about what they mean, feel, or think, and in most cases it’s because they’re afraid of how the person they lie to would respond if they told the truth. A person that’s offended at another person will often dance around the truth about things that are bothering them. But then they’ll go tell the truth of how they feel to the rest of the world.
People lie to better their position. People lie to impress others. People lie to protect the feelings of others. People lie because they don’t know how to say what they feel. People lie because it short-cuts the process of having to explain their actions. People like because they are afraid to lovingly confront the person they are having a problem with. They don’t know how it will turn out and are afraid of the outcome, or they just don’t want to put up with the hassle of conflict by telling the truth. Because people don’t want to tell the truth for fear of conflict, they leave many things unresolved. Unresolved conflicts almost always lead to bitterness setting in, repeat eruptions of the same conflicts later, and much behind-the-back slander and gossip. Think I’m wrong? Just pay attention to your mouth for a while and see for yourself.
Over the course of 35 years of ministry, I had the blessing of working with a man who was very straightforward in expressing what He was thinking. When I would converse with him, I wasn’t wondering what he really meant when we finished. He’d be honest and truthful. He’d say what he meant but do so appropriately, and in a spirit of love. I had an extreme appreciation for that because I always knew where I stood with him. On the same token, because he was honest, some of the things he has said over the years, had taken the form of correction in my life. Sometimes the truth hurts. That’s okay though because I knew he loved me and had my best interest at heart. Proverbs 15:32 (NLT) says, “If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen
to correction, you grow in understanding.”
I’ve learned that even though truth may be painful to give or to hear, both help me to grow. Lies to protect others or to protect my feelings from being hurt, hide the things we need to know and grow in. His example has been powerful to me and has helped me to have a much greater appreciation for being consistently truthful.
There are many things the Lord says to me. He always speaks truth to me in love. I know His voice because it’s gentle yet straight forward. People often say they have a hard time telling the difference between God’s voice and the devil’s. First of all, God speaks to your spirit. It may be firm. It will always be honest. It will always line up with the Word of God, but it will never be cruel or mean, or accusing or condemning. The devil speaks only to your mind. He can’t read your mind. He just watches what you say and do and responds with words of accusation, condemnation, guilt, hurt and worse. What he says makes you want to give up. What God says makes you want to try harder, experience more of His love, and draw closer to Him.
That then becomes one of the keys in learning to tell the truth and speak the truth in love. Ephesians 4:15 (NLT) says, that a sign that you are maturing in Christ is that you learn to speak the truth in love. “… we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ…” Don’t sound like the devil and accuse, condemn, or discourage others. Work to speak truth in love. Even then some people won’t always listen. They didn’t always listen to Jesus. They won’t always listen to you. But, make sure you aren’t using truth as an excuse to be rude or just tell it is! And please don’t give me the I’m just a blunt person and tell it like it is! If you just say whatever is on your mind without any appropriateness, you’re just a rude person and haven’t learned to speak the truth in love. If you can’t keep your emotions in check, you’ll never become one that learns to speak truth in conflict. If you continuously provoke the one you are talking to and to listen to what they have to say, again you will never learn to succeed and value being truthful. Think about the person you are dealing with. Try to put yourself in their shoes. Try to understand their perspective. Then try to help them understand yours. Be calm. Be patient. Try to pick a good time–not a hallway meeting and not in the middle of an inflamed conflict.
Learning not to lie but instead tell the truth is one of the most difficult challenges people face. And as I said, people fail repeatedly! If you were to take the challenge today of making every word you speak, kind, honest, and truthful, you’d feel this challenge. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, we could never accomplish this. When we learn to speak the truth in love with someone’s best interest at heart; it will help us to grow up and mature in Christ. There may be nothing harder, but there will also be nothing more valuable in the big picture!
James 3:2 (NLT) “Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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