Recently my son had a problem with his gaming system. I decided to reveal my tech geek side and began to look deeper into the issue. I realized that the disc drive was malfunctioning and had another drive ordered. When it arrived, the sticker on the box said, “new.” I quickly learned that it was anything but new. It had a padded wrapper over it but inside told another story. I found things broken and a stripped screw.
The people who sold me the disc drive can easily slap a sticker on a box and say the merchandise is new even though it is anything but new. With us, we can pretend to be a particular way; however, if we have the Spirit, if we accepted Jesus into our lives and were baptized, then there should be a sign of fruit—fruit from our lives.
You cannot fake a relationship with Christ. You cannot slap on a label (ex: “Christian”) and think it makes the reality change. There’s a song that says, “You’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Today, are you a box with a deceptive sticker or are you the real deal? If people look around will they see the fruits of your labor or will they get lost and confused from the image you try to uphold?
“You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.” – Matthew 7:16-18 [ESV]
I always like to hear about good things. I do not want to hear bad news. I do not want to hear about bad things. I am sure you don’t like to hear anything bad either. In Isaiah we read that the people wanted to hear nice things. Not only nice things, but lies.
Would you rather hear the truth or a lie? What if the truth doesn’t sound so sweet? What if the lie sounds better? What if the lie sounds easier or more fun? Isaiah was referring to the people not wanting to hear about what was right, but what was nice to them. Today we can see evidence of this in our own lives.
Look around. Many people want to hear what is nice, what feels good or right to them. Some of the people are content with lies. The lies are better to them. Easier. Sweeter. Nicer. But the lies aren’t right. The lies aren’t the truth. Today, are you asking for nice things or do you desire the truth? Do you want what is comfortable or what is right?
“They tell the seers, ‘Stop seeing visions!’ They tell the prophets, ‘Don’t tell us what is right. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies.’” – Isaiah 30:10 [NLT]
Working in the medical field for ten years, I often heard the term “consul.” Short for consultation, it simply meant that a person needed to see a doctor for an examination to make any further care decisions, many times from a specialist. Now in Joshua 9, the people were visited by the Gibeonites who were very deceptive. Gibeon had heard what the Lord had done for the Israelites and decided to make it appear as if they traveled from a far off land.
Their deception worked. The Israelites looked at what the Gibeonites had—old looking wine skins and moldy stale bread. It appeared that they did travel from a great distance. “They examined… but they DID NOT CONSULT THE LORD.” That was a big problem. We should examine. We should use the minds that God has given us. But first, ALWAYS FIRST, we need to consult God. Consulting Him will always be more important than anything we can come to understand on our own.
Don’t neglect your consul. Consult the Lord. Examining things alone is not enough. In a day when we have a world full of Gibeonites trying to deceive us, to make up their own truth, it is vital that we contact the One who can point us to the God’s Truth – the Absolute Truth.
“So the Israelites examined their food, but they did not consult the LORD.”– Joshua 9:14 [NLT]
Simeon and Levi were upset with what happened to their sister Dinah at the hands of Shechem. She was violated and hurt. They were angry and devised a plan to get revenge. In Genesis 34, we read about their actions. They allowed for Dinah to return with Shechem but had a plan to enact vengeance on the people. They ended up retrieving their sister along with slaughtering the people and plundering the area.
Most of us today would not consider giving a victim to the guilty party but many of us do want justice. It is okay to want justice. God even tells us to seek justice (see Micah 6). But Simeon and Levi went at it the wrong way. Just because a wrong was committed, does not mean another wrong committed is an act of justice. Simeon and Levi not only lied, but they stole and they murdered.
Seek justice but understand that God’s commands cannot be twisted or ignored for the justice. Trust in His justice. He is a just God. There’s no reason to join with those who have committed wrong doings to get some false sense of justice. God will handle it.
“The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.” – Psalm 33:5 [NIV]
Last night I was watching this television show that just began for what I believe is a week long program. Although I am not much of a television buff, I tuned in to this NBC show because of the title, “Take It All.” The show has contestants selecting unknown prizes from a screen or deciding to “steal” a gift from one of their fellow contestants. Whoever has selected the most valuable of the prizes moves on to the next round of play. The last round has the two final contestants facing off in a last standoff. Each contestant selects one small container which has some cash amount listed inside. Each contestant must make a selection which will determine if they keep the prizes they earned earlier, the cash that is in the container they just selected, and possibly even the other contestant’s prizes.
I sat and watched as the older gentleman the host called “Santa” told his opponent that he could be trusted, that because he believe God placed them both there for a reason and that they both could be blessed, that he would select to “keep mine.” If both contestants selected “keep mine” they would both take home what they had earned. If she decided to select “take it all,” but “Santa” said he would only “keep mine,” she would take it all. The contestant said she didn’t know if she could trust him. Earlier in the game he tried to take items from other contestants. She didn’t trust him. The last move of the game, she picked to “Take it All.” It could have been an issue of greed; however, she again and again said she did not trust this man because of what his actions showed earlier in the game.
I thought about what she said and also what he had proclaimed before the big decision was made by both contestants. He did stick with his word and selected to “keep mine.” And yet, this lady did not trust him because of his actions before, something I think happens with a lot of Christians. Whether we like it or not, as a Christian, we are a representative of Christ. If we spend some time doing things that are not well representing Christ, and then later try to say that we are to be trusted, people may not see the true Christ. I am not saying that this man was falsely representing Christ. What I am talking about here is trust. If we are to be witnessing to people, there is a relationship that is involved. If we show people two different parts of us, the true us and then a different us, how could a person trust us? How can a person be brought to Christ when shown such a difference?
The lady in the show won everything—the money and prizes she had, plus everything that the other man had earned. She truly did “take it all.” Although we are taught to not take everything, to be generous, we are also taught to be truthful, to be faithful, to be like Christ. If we are not real with people, when we finally tell them about Jesus, about what He did for our lives, for how good He is, people may have already decided long before by your actions that you were a dishonest person and your words will have little meaning.
Verses to consider:
“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” – Ephesians 4:25 [ESV]
“They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him.” – Titus 1:16a [NASB]
“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” – 1 John 3:18 [NIV]