‘...know the whole truth and tell it in love...’ Ephesians 4:15 TM
A teenager who’d just obtained his driver’s licence told his parents he was meeting his friends at a local restaurant. But this particular restaurant had several locations and he drove to one 60 miles away. They say, ‘What you don’t expose, will expose you.’ Unfortunately, his parents went shopping in that area the same evening. Imagine his thoughts when he stopped at anjunction, looked over, and saw his mum giving him that ‘look’ parents reserve for the worst offences!
We need to ‘...keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display...’ (2 Corinthians 4:2 TM); speak the plain, unembellished truth, so people don’t have to ‘...read between the lines or look for hidden meanings...’ (2 Corinthians 1:13 TM). There are statements we instinctively disbelieve, like ‘The cheque is in the post… the puppy won’t be any trouble… I won’t tell anybody.’ Then there are ‘...lies so clever they sound like the truth’ (Ephesians 4:14 NLT).
For example, we want to be the good guy, so we leave out information that might put us in a bad light. Or to avoid upsetting somebody we stretch the truth. One Bible teacher writes, ‘Solving problems in a relationship is one of the most important skills you’ll ever learn. It makes for a successful family life, career, education, and social life. Unless we have these skills we’ll never be truly happy.
When you have a problem with someone, state it in a gentle, positive way. If you don’t start right you’ll have little hope of ending right.’ So, ‘grow up… know the whole truth and tell it in love’.
‘Making the most of your time...’ Ephesians 5:16 NAS
If you’re wise you’ll stop frequently and think about how you’re spending your time. Charles Swindoll writes, ‘In a book I read, The Time Trap, I came upon a list of the most popular time wasters. It helped to pinpoint some specific areas of inefficiency I must watch. Who hasn’t heard the true story of Charles M. Schwab and Ivy Lee?
Schwab was president of Bethlehem Steel. Lee, a consultant, was given the unusual challenge, “Show me a way to get more things done with my time.” Schwab agreed to pay him “anything within reason”’ if Lee’s suggestions worked.
Lee later handed the executive a sheet of paper with the plan: “Write down the most important tasks you have to do tomorrow. Number them in order of importance. When you arrive in the morning, begin at once on number one and stay on it until it is completed. Recheck your priorities, then begin with number two, then number three. Make this a habit every working day. Pass it on to those under you. Try it as long as you like, then send me your cheque for what you think it’s worth.”’
That one idea turned Bethlehem Steel Corporation into the biggest independent steel producer in the world within five years. How much did Schwab pay his consultant? Several weeks after he received the note, he sent Lee a cheque for $25,000, admitting it was the most profitable lesson he had ever learned. Try it for yourself. If it works, great. But don’t send me any money for the idea. I’d just blow it on another time-management book… which I don’t have time to read.’
‘Take a good look… at who you were when you got called...’ 1 Corinthians 1:26 TM
Jesus didn’t see people as losers, but as potential winners who’d lost their way. He ‘...was moved with compassion for them...’ (Mark 6:34 NKJV). He saw them through God’s eyes, not weeds, but potential roses. And His perspective, which is often different from ours, brought out the best in them. Where others saw a woman with five failed marriages, He saw a restored sinner who could reach others in Samaria.
They saw a blind man; He envisioned someone who could see. They saw a cripple; He pictured a man picking up his mat and walking away. They saw Matthew as a reviled tax collector; He saw a future disciple. They dismissed Zacchaeus as a crook; Jesus recognised a searching heart. When His disciples saw costly perfume and unnecessary expense, Jesus recognised the sacrifice of a grateful heart. Others saw an impulsive fisherman; Jesus saw a leader who could build His church.
Onlookers watched Roman soldiers mocking as they pounded nails into human flesh; Jesus saw blind men who didn’t know what they were doing. ‘Lord, help us to see!’ Paul says, ‘...think of what you were when you were called. Not many… were wise by human standards; not many were influential…[or] of noble birth’ (1 Corinthians 1:26 NIV).
Face it, you weren’t so wonderful before God turned you around, so stop judging others from your limited perspective and try to see them as God saw you. Work to bring out the best in them. Introduce them to the One Who came to bring ‘...great joy to all the people’ (Luke 2:10 NCV) – no exceptions!
‘The Lord watches over the path of the godly...’ Psalm 1:6 NLT
God will speak to you through relationships. Sometimes He will give you direct revelation, but often He will speak to you through relationships. His Word says, ‘Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you...’ (Hebrews 13:7 NIV). Who speaks into your life? To whom are you submitted? Without good input you will live unprotected and undirected. God will speak to you through your gifts. ‘A man’s gift makes room for him...’ (Proverbs 18:16 NAS).
When God is directing your steps you won’t need to kick the door open or force your way in. Your gift will bring a solution and meet a need; therefore, you’ll be welcomed, valued and rewarded. He’ll speak to you through your thoughts. ‘...we have the mind of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 2:16 NIV). When our minds are renewed by His Word and lined up with His will, God actually thinks through us. Consider what an advantage that is! God will speak through open doors.
Paul wrote, ‘For a great door for effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries’ (1 Corinthians 16:9). God will open doors for you, but you must remember that with every opportunity He gives, challenges come too. That’s what builds your faith and strengthens you for the future.
He will speak through ‘a word’ of confirmation. ‘Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it...’ (Isaiah 30:21). Note the word ‘behind’. This word comes after you obey God, letting you know you’ve made a good decision and that you’re on the right track. Yes, you can be led by God. His Word says, ‘The Lord watches over the path of the godly.’
‘...restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness...’ Galatians 6:1 NAS
Why is restoration necessary? To preserve their life. ‘...Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death...’ (James 5:20 NIV). When someone you love is sinning, they’re literally killing themselves. If you care, you won’t be able to stand by and watch. Restoration is necessary to preserve the church. Paul writes, ‘...admonish the unruly...’ (1 Thessalonians 5:14 NAS).
When sin is tolerated and rationalised, members become angry and leave, and others are wounded. A church’s reputation and climate are hurt by those who sin and don’t make amends. It’s vital to preserve God’s reputation. When Nathan spoke to David about his sin with Bathsheba, he said, ‘...you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt...’ (2 Samuel 12:14 NIV).
When we condemn in the world what we condone in ourselves, our message falls on deaf ears. So Paul writes, ‘If anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.’ We are to approach them the right way! We must not confront someone about sin when we have the same problem ourselves.
We must approach them with the purpose and expectation of restoring. This isn’t a witch hunt, it’s a lamb search. It’s to bring them back into fellowship, and we must get rid of our ‘holier than thou’ attitude. Be honest; it’s only by God’s grace that you’re not caught in the same trespass, right? Tell the one you’re dealing with that you recognise this. Assure them that whatever the sin, it’s not unforgivable. There’s a way back to spiritual health.