The Test #2 Am I Honest?
There is way too much insanity within the
Church. I heard the man speak, I read
his book, he led a megachurch in Canada, he resigned, and soon after the
authorities charged him with sexual assault.
While my daughter Heather was attending Point Loma Nazarene University
in San Diego, one of the religion professors, a man highly educated and also
serving as a Pastor to one of the inner-city congregations sexually abused a
young adult member of the congregation. From Hill-song to the Vatican there are
people utterly failing the Test.
2 Corinthians 13:5–6 (NIV)
Examine yourselves to see whether
you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is
in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover
that we have not failed the test.
A Christian follows Christ. Being a disciple of Jesus is learning how to
do life the way Jesus demonstrated. When
the gospel grabs your heart: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John
14:5-7) and you become convinced that your way, your truth, and the life you
are living are missing the mark, not even reaching your expectations, you
surrender self-will, self-guidance, self-sufficiency, bending your knee to
Jesus thus committing yourself to His leadership (Luke 6:46). Now you do life in a right relationship to
God (John 1:12). If you have not
established a right relationship with God, now is the time to decide, you have
no guarantees for tomorrow (2 Corinthians 6:2).
Forsake the old self-centered way of life, ask for forgiveness for the
suffering you have caused, open your heart wide and invite God’s Spirit to take
up residence within you. A whole new
world will open for you (1 Corinthians 2:14, 2 Corinthians 5:17). If this is your decision, let me know. I will help you get adjusted to your new way
of living with Christ within.
When you are doing the things that draw you closer
to God, that deepen your relationship with God you know that Christ is in
you. You know the Spirit of God resides
within. When God’s Spirit resides within
you there are certain behaviors you are compelled to do, such as being a lover,
one who seeks to meet another’s need. When
you are self-giving, and self-sacrificing you know the Spirit of God resides
within (Galatians 5:25). When God’s
Spirit resides within you there is empowerment to resist behaviors that God
detests and power to do the things of which God approves. You grow out of being wrongly related into
righteous behaviors, into behaviors that are in sync with the life God has
called you upward in Christ Jesus for (2 Corinthians 3:18, Philippians 3:14). When your life is being purged of wrongdoing,
wrong being, you know the Spirt of God resides within. When God’s Spirit resides with you there is
forward progress in becoming like Jesus.
When you see the fruit of the Spirit:
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control
flourishing in your life you know that God’s Spirit resides within (Galatians
5:22-23). Is the Spirit of Christ in
Those leaders in the Church who betrayed the trust
of those they were charged to care for somehow drove Christ out from within
(James 1:15). Without the Spirit we can
do evil. Without the Spirit our religion blinds us to our hypocrisy (Matthew
15:14). Just like that annual checkup
with your doctor to make sure you are staying healthy, there is a test you can
take to discover if you are spiritually healthy.
This self-examination consists of five questions: “Am
I Truthful? Am I Honest? Am I Pure? Am I easily offended? Am I selfish?” (E
Stanley Jones, Victorious Living, p 28).
A well-thought-out answer is required.
Contemplation is the 7th habit of a disciple, and you will
need to have that heart-to-heart discussion with God. Carve some time out of your schedule, and find
that quiet place, the old timers would tell you to go into your prayer closet;
ask God how He sees you measuring up.
Last time we laid the groundwork
to be able for each of us to answer the question: “Am I truthful?” I discovered this isn’t as easy as it
sounds. To answer yes means there is no
deception, no misrepresentation of the facts, no white lies, no justifying, no
obfuscation for someone else’s good, no exaggerations, and no padding of the
resume. To answer yes to the question
means you have chosen to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
truth. That you will be a revealer of
truth. Friends this is very hard, even
more, difficult is to pierce the blindness of self-deception. If you can let a lie go, then you may not be the
person you think you are. If that hits
home, it's your invitation to actualize the empowerment of God to change.
In our teaching today we are going
to lay the groundwork for answering the question: “Am I Honest?” Are you confident that you can be
trusted? Ask yourself: “Can I be trusted
in money matters? Do I return the money or finders, keepers? In my work ethic am I diligent or taking
advantage of my employer? With others’
reputations am I talking about their faults and failures behind their back? (E Stanley Jones, Victorious Living, p 28). Do I keep my promises, my vows, my
pledges? This is a question of character,
what you see is what you get. Honesty
means you are going to do what you say, with no hidden agendas (1Chronicles 29:17).
I have been told stories about
major business deals that were done with a handshake. Where one’s word was backed by one’s reputation. Is your word your bond, or is it a “junk bond?” In our culture today we need lawyers and experts
in creating binding agreements. We have
fine print that explains how that full coverage policy doesn’t cover everything
(Deuteronomy 25:16). The story is told of an insurance company that wouldn’t
allow a total claim after a house was burned to the ground because the chimney
was still standing. Bumper-to-bumper
warranty except… guaranteed except…
We’re living in a culture of
dishonesty. About the culture leadership
guru, Stephen Covey wrote: “the more people rationalize cheating, the more it becomes a
culture of dishonesty…” ( The Glorified Culture Of Dishonesty—
Here’s What I Have Learned | by Olawale Ogunti | Be Unique | Medium ) Cheating seems to have become a national past time. Scamming is a favorite hobby. Buyer beware.
Bait and switch. The up sale. Should
we mention politicians? The ethic in our culture is “a limited and legalized
struggle of men and women to get the better of one another” (H.G. Wells, Men
Like Gods, p 49). Hey, it’s just
business (Proverbs 16:11). Ruthless capitalistic competition that takes
advantage of others' trust is dishonesty.
This behavior is inconsistent with discipleship, this is sin.
Winning is a great value in our culture.
Winning is everything. Cheating
is allowed as long as you don’t get caught.
Bribes are a form of cheating, along with kickbacks. From the classroom to the sports field, from
the car lot to the congress, cheating is so widespread it’s expected. Cheating the government by concealing income,
slipping through loopholes, or securing benefits from the public largess is
lauded. Massaging the accounting books
to make investors think you are doing better than you are is cheating (Enron). Altering test results on your product is
cheating (Volkswagon). Knowingly
defrauding someone is dishonest, it’s sin.
Dishonesty infects our relationships.
“How are you?” The cultural response is “good,” “fine,” “any better and
I would be arrested.” When the season of
life you are in has become a serious struggle to keep on keeping on. “Good to see you?” Not really, I’d rather talk with somebody
else. Have you had that experience when someone asks, “How have you been?” as
they scan the room looking for more important people to engage? I borrowed Joe Grone’s saws-all 6 years
ago. I still have it. Yikes, dishonesty, that’s sin.
Here's a little dishonesty: Ever
been invited to go do something and you don’t want to you are not going to do it
regardless, but instead of saying “no thank you” your response is “Maybe,” or
“Let me check my schedule,” or “I’ll get back to you on that.” Maybe someone is telling you of their
problems, and you say, “I’ll pray for you,” but what you mean is “end of the conversation.” You’re being dishonest with them. That’s sin.
Then one of the greatest dishonesties in a relationship. “To have and to
hold, to honor and cherish and forsaking all others till death do us part.” Divorce,
infidelity, and abuse are inconsistent with discipleship. The promise is made “In sickness and in health.” Two believers get married, one comes down
with cancer, and the other says, “I didn’t sign up for this!” and leaves: again,
behavior inconsistent with discipleship.
When a husband doesn’t love his wife and a wife does not respect her
husband that’s breaking marriage vows as well as the guidance of scripture (Ephesians
5:22-28). Men make babies and then skip
out on fathering, nurturing, protecting, and providing. That’s all behavior inconsistent with
discipleship. That’s sin.
When Christ is in you are honest.
Honest means “what you see is what you get.” You are who you say you are;
you act consistently under all the different hats you wear in life (Proverbs
11:3). You’re the same person at work as at home, the same person with friends
as with family, there is no difference between your public life and your
private life. (Honesty | Character Strengths | VIA
Institute (viacharacter.org) Honesty has to do with your integrity; you
don’t leak, and your goals line up with your values. To be honest you are trustworthy. The honest person doesn’t deal with the stress
of deceiving others. To be honest, you find yourself doing what is right
because it is right and not because it's convenient or expedient or profitable,
you do what’s right because the One you follow is righteous (1 John 2:29).
One of the great by-products of being honest is the ability to
objectively look at yourself. Honesty
demands that you look in Don Quixote’s Mirror of Truth to see the state of
yourself (James 1:23-24). Self-deception
doesn’t stand a chance, when you discover something not per discipleship you
deal with it. You see an area in which
you need to mature, you accept the weakness and start dealing with it. No hiding, no rationalizations, no “We’ll I
am only human.” The most human person in
history is Jesus. Honesty demands that
you come clean with yourself. You take a
moral inventory, right the wrongs, make restitution, and partner with the Holy
Spirit to change your ways.
2 Corinthians 8:21 (NIV)
For we are taking pains to do what
is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of [others].
A simple but profound question to
see if Christ is in you: Am I an honest
person? It’s a “yes” or “no”
answer. Straight forward. You either are,
or you are not, no middle ground, no gray areas, no rationalizations, no
justifications, no blaming others. “Yes”
If you answer yes, you’ve passed
the test. If you answered no, then there
is work to be done. For God has called
you to live a holy life, the life of a disciple, of being a Christ-follower. An aspect of that holy life is honesty in all
you do. If you answered no, it is the
Holy Spirit’s invitation for you to partner with Him to make the changes
necessary in your life to say yes. Time
for some contemplation.
Day 1: Steal away to that quiet place, away from
distraction and interruption. Bring a
pad of paper with you and something to write with. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your areas of
dishonesty. Make your list of every dishonesty that comes to mind. Then thank God that He wants the best for
you, that He is merciful and longsuffering, that He has not forsaken you, and Christ
remains in you because you are doing this.
Day 2: Back to that quiet place. Read over your
list. These are the dishonesties that
you want to purge from your life. In
your quiet time with God ask for Him to forgive you and purify you and cleanse
you from all unrighteousness. Ask the
Holy Spirit to confirm in your heart that you have been forgiven. Thank God that He is slow to anger, abounding
in love, and able to separate you from your sins as far as the east is from the
Day 3: In your place of solitude
read over your list again and for each, say out loud “I was dishonest, now I am
forgiven, and I forsake these ways.”
Again, asking for assistance from the Spirit of Christ that is in you,
write down the names of the people you were dishonest with, the people that you
defrauded, the people that you hurt, and the people that you took advantage
of. Write down their names. Thank God
that He sets the prisoners free, breaks the chains of the past, wipes your
slate clean, and gives you another chance to get it right in Christ.
In the preceding days go to those
whose names you’ve written down, as far as it is possible, and confess your
dishonesty, ask to be forgiven, and if necessary, make restitution. This is the
behavior of one who has truly repented.
This is difficult to do because you are nailing your egoism upon the
cross, you are stripping off the rages of the old way of life and burning them,
you're being real, “no matter how deep the humiliation” (Jones, Victorious
Living, p. 30). There may be those who will not forgive, and give their
response to God. All you can do is be
responsible for yourself, and you have asked to be pardoned for your dishonesty,
you’ve done your part.
Once you have gone and made amends
to everyone on your list burn it. If you
need a fireplace we have pits here at the facility you can borrow, don’t want
you to start a wildfire or burn your place down. As the list goes up in smoke know that you
have been obedient. Thank God for the
empowerment to do all you could to make things right between you and those who
experienced what the old you did to them.
Then go and sin no more.
Friends, you can only do this if
Christ is in you. The disciple of Jesus
lives an honest life.
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