The Test #2 Am I Honest?

 


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 you? 

 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” or “no.”

 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 west.

 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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