Tag Archives: Honesty

The Sermon, part 10: Fourth Antithesis

Read Matthew 5:33-37

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:6 NRSV)

truth-008“What is truth?” Those are the infamous words of the Roman Prefect of Judea, Pontius Pilate. During Jesus’ Roman trial, he was being questioned on who he was, because the word got around that he was claiming to be the Messiah, or king, and that would have been very disturbing to Pilate.

The Prefect questioned Jesus, “Are you a king? Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus answered back, Jesus replied, “Is this your own question, or did others tell you about Me?

Pilate was enraged! “Am I a Jew? Your own leaders and priests brought you to me for trial! Now tell me, what have you done.”

Jesus looked a Pilate and ansered back, “My Kingdom is not of this world, otherwise my followers would not have allowed me to be handed over to the Jewish leaders. My Kingdom is not of this world.

Pilate was growing impatient. “So, you are a king then?”

Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.

“What is truth,” Pilate retorted the philosophical question in disgust with this man, as well as disgust with the whole region.

Though these events were recorded in John 18:33-38, the question, “What is truth,” is one that is relevant to us here today. Anyone who has watched politicians at work, know that the truth is not always what it seems. Things are said, “facts” are thrown out there, and stats are flaunted like evidence! Promises are made, assurances given and, at the end of the day, nothing changes. Our trust hangs in the balance, while the truth gets buried a pile of “untruths”.

The Jewish Law, just like our American justice system, had provisions written in it to make sure that people told the truth in crucial moments. If one had taken a vow, and were under oath, one’s words were weighted and any sign of lying would result in a severe penalty. While lying outside of an oath or vow is immoral, it does not bear any legal ramifications, even if it does bear social ones.

To paraphrase, Jesus says, “You have heard it said that ‘You must not break your vows’. But I say to you, do not make any vows! Don’t swear by heaven, or the earth, or Jerusalem, for those are not yours to swear by. They are God’s! And do not even swear by your own head for you can’t even control turning one hair black or white. Rather, just say a simple ‘yes,’ or ‘no,’. Anything beyond this is from the evil one!

Here again, Jesus took what seemed to be a common sense law and gave us an absolute antithesis in return. Rather than our words mattering sometimes, yet not others, Jesus proclaimed that our words matter ALL THE TIME. Truth is truth, lies are lies, and to say otherwise is to be, well, not truthful! God is not a liar, and God will not be represented by liars.

This, again, is not meant to establish a new law, but to point us to the one who is the fulfillment of the law. The one who embodied the TRUTH at all costs! This is not about being kind to a friend you think doesn’t look so great in those plaid pants, or anything like that. Jesus is NOT against tact! Nor is Jesus against those who lie to do what is morally just, such as lying to the gustapo that one isn’t hiding away Jews when they really are in the house hiding.

What Jesus is doing is speaking truth to power, and to those who choose to follow the power of the world, rather than the Truth of the Word. Jesus, the Word of God, is faithful and true and calls all followers to be likewise. We are to be truthful, we are to not make oaths for there should be no need to swear by this or that; rather, we should mean what we say and say what we mean. While we cannot force the world to be truthful, we can choose to not be beguiled by the world. Let us, instead, follow the one who IS TRUTH and let TRUTH lead and guide us in all that we do.

“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” – Buddha

Lord, reveal your TRUTH in me, and speak it through me in all I say and do. Amen.

Victims…Aren’t We All?

Read Revelation 3:1-6

“But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” (‭Jeremiah‬ ‭17‬:‭10‬ NLT)

movie-the-crow_00212772One of my favorite movies, on my endless list of movies, is a film called “The Crow.” It is starring Brandon Lee, who was the son of the ever-famous Bruce Lee, and it was his definitive role as an actor. The story is about a man who was murdered, along with his fiancée, on the eve of their wedding day. Exactly one year later, Eric Draven is resurrected by a mysterious crow who brings him back in order to exact revenge against his murderers. The first one he goes after is a man nicknamed, “Tin Tin.” He’s nicknamed that because his weapon of choice is a knife, and he’s really good at using them. When he runs into Tin Tin, he screams out, “Murderer”, and reminds “Tin Tin” of how he raped and killed his fiancée.

Tin Tin, of course, attacks the now ghostly Eric and comes at him  with his knives. He screams back at Eric, “Murder!?! Murder!?! Let me show you a little something about murder! It’s fun, it’s easy, and you’re gonna learn all about it!” Pulling you two of his blades, he mockingly says to Eric, “I’d like you to meet two friends of mine. We never miss.” But, as I am sure you can guess if you’ve never seen the film, Tin Tin does miss. Eric deflects one blade, and then the other. Tin Tin pulls out yet another blade and throws it at Eric who catches it and throws it back, hitting the gangster in the shoulder blade and tacking him to the wall. Tin tin, now broken, bleeding and frightened begins to breathe heavily and starts to moan in pain as Eric approaches him. Then, picking up one of Tin Tin’s other knives, Eric says sardonically, “Victims; aren’t we all?” and then kills Tin Tin.

While this is a violent scene, I think it also bears a lot of truth as well. How many times in our lives have we felt victimized by someone or something? I am sure each of us can come up with countless examples of the times that we have been victimized. Yet, if I were to ask you how many times you’ve victimized others, I bet it wouldn’t be as easy of a question to answer. We are often so good at playing the victim, and extra quick to overlook the times that we are the victimizer. Sometimes, like Eric, we start off as the victim only to become the victimizer.

This devotion is not being written to assume that you, the reader, have ever played the victim, or that you’ve victimized others, or something in between those two. Nor is it defining victimization in any other way than the broad definition of intentionally bringing harm to another’s body, mind, emotions, and/or spirit. I think it is safe to say that we’ve all been on both sides of the victimization spectrum. What I hope this devotion does is cause you to introspectively reflect on whether you are the VICTIM or the VICTIMIZER and, depending on your answer, what are going to do about it? If you are the victim, are you going to lash out at others and become the victimizer? If you are the victimizer, are you going to continue down the destructive path of bringing harm to others, regardless of your reason for doing it?

Remember, we’ve all been victims at one point or another; it is never okay to become the victimizer! Remember, God sees us for who we really are and calls us to repent and to believe in Christ’s Good News of hope, healing and wholeness. If we are truly victims, God will not fail us nor abandon us; rather, God stands in solidarity with those who are oppressed and downtrodden. God seeks to restore them to healing and wholeness. With that said, if we are the victimizers then it is time for us to humble ourselves and turn to God’s way of LOVE and PEACE. It is there that we will find reconciliation, restoration and renewal. Let those with eyes see, let those with ears hear, and let those with hearts be transformed by LOVE.

“When you’re the victim of the behavior, it’s black and white; when you’re the perpetrator, there are a million shades of gray.” – Dr. Laura Schlessinger

Lord, open my ears, my eyes and my heart and give me the insight to see myself for who I am, so that I may change where I need to. Amen.

Calling it a Spade

Read Matthew 7:21-29


“Let anyone with ears listen!” (Mathew 13:9)

SpadeExcuses, excuses, excuses. This world is filled with them, isn’t it? And we don’t have to look too far to find a boat-full of excuses do we? The truth is that excuses flow from our mouths as much as they fill our ears. As a person, I have certainly made my share of excuses in my life. When I didn’t like a subject in school, I would come up with excuses as to why I COULD NOT succeed at it. In the past, I have excused myself for bad eating habits. I have excused myself for being in a bad mood, for having a bad attitude, for bad behavior and for a host of other things. It’s not that I am confessing something that would be surprising to anyone, whether they know me or not. If we are all to be completely honest with ourselves, everyone of us has made excuses for a variety of different things.

We Christians, it seems, are just as good at making excuses for ourselves as everyone else is. As someone who has both been in the church and has served the church in a host of different ways, I know the kinds of excuses that get made. For instance, when people are challenged to read the Bible more they will often come up with excuses such as, “I just don’t understand it,” or “Gee, I just don’t have the extra time to read it.” I hear excuses for why people can’t be a part of the life of the church, why they can’t lead in this way or that, why they can’t give more in one way or the other, and a whole host of excuses for not doing a variety of different things.

One excuse that really gets me is the one that people often make when it comes to living out the Gospel in their lives. It is quite clear when we read the Bible that Jesus called his disciples, and through them he called us, to live as he did. He calls us to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbors, including our enemies, as ourselves. Any preacher worth their weight in salt will most certainly preach that as one of the key components of the Gospel message and will challenge his or her congregants to answer that call; yet, when pressed, people will say, “Of course Jesus lived that way, he’s the Son of God. He was perfect…I’m not.”

I have always been one to call a spade a spade, and so I will be no different here. Not only is that an excuse, it is an affront to the Gospel and it goes against everything that Jesus taught and did. Jesus did not come to “show off” like some entertaining illusionist (though walking on water would be a neat trick to pull off); rather, Jesus lived the life that he was calling us all to join with him in living. In other words, Jesus does not buy our excuses and nor should we. We aren’t fooling God, even if we are fooling ourselves. I believe that, if we search deep down, we’ll find that we are not really fooling ourselves either.

Today’s challenge is to stop making excuses. Call things as they are. If God’s message of unconditional love, acceptance, forgiveness and compassion really move and inspire you, then start living that kind of life. Don’t excuse yourself for not doing it; rather, really start trying to live that way. It’s not about being perfect, but about being sincere. If you don’t want to follow God and live as God created you to, then just be honest and say it. Don’t excuse yourself, for that doesn’t change the fact that you simply don’t want to. If, on the other hand, you love God and want to live as a child of God, then start doing it. Persevere in holy living, in living that is set apart for God, and you will see yourself opened to the transformative power of God and to the hidden possibilities that God has for you.


“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” – Thomas Jefferson


Lord, you know all things including the things about me that no one else knows. You know the life I’ve led and the real reasons why I have led it in the manner I have. I am not perfect, but I trust that through you I am being perfected. Strengthen me to be honest with myself and spark the desire in me to live as you have called me to live. Amen.