Last Monday evening Kathy and I were driving to the home of my sister, Martha, and my brother in law, Mark. The warning light went off on the dash of our car because we were low on gasoline. I saw a gas station on the lonely road we were traveling and pulled into the station. The sign board at this gas station read $2.49 a gallon. But, when I started filling up the car, the gas pump read $2.55 a gallon! It seems that $2.49 price was a ‘club price.’ But, the sign did not publicize that detail. I would have stopped at this station anyway, because I did not want to run out of gas. But, my reaction is that this station was dishonest in their advertising. I felt taken. The reputation of that gas station went down in my estimation. I don’t plan to buy gas there again soon.
But, this is not the only time what seems like a mis-representation, or untruth, has happened to me. In September, Kathy and I visited Seward, AK, on a trip that our daughter, Mary, gave us as a Christmas gift. I had gone on the internet and reserved a room in the $160.00 range for our night in Seward. But when I paid the bill the cost of the hotel room was close to $190.00. I asked the front desk about the difference in price. They told me the $160.00 price was for the room, but the rest was for taxes and “other charges.” I understood, but I was not happy.
I also remember an incident from the 1980’s when Kathy and I lived in FL. The state voted on whether or not to approve a lottery. The publicity for this ballot promised that, if the state voted in the affirmative, the money from the lottery would go to statewide education costs. The ballot measure passed. When the money came in from the lottery, those funds did go to education. However, the amount of money added by the lottery was then removed from educational spending to use on “other programs.” The lottery did not increase educational spending. Funding for educational costs remained the same. This state gambling effort had just provided another source of income, and additional revenue for politicians. Again, I felt taken.
How do you feel when someone lies to you? I personally feel betrayed when this happens. After all, the 8th commandment does say, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,” (Exodus 20:16) and one of the meanings of that commandment is that lying is a sin. Lying is a sin against other people. But being untruthful is also a sin against God.
God, on the other hand, always speaks truth. In John 17:17 Jesus prays for His disciples, knowing he will die the next day. Jesus prays, “Sanctify them in the truth. Your Word IS TRUTH.” We can trust the Word of God. It is always true. In fact, we are told about Jesus himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) In contrast to a world that is full of lies, God is truthful. He can be trusted!
Nevertheless, while being upset about the lies and dishonesty of others, I know that I have not always been truthful either. I want to tell the truth. I work to be truthful. But, there are times that words come out of my mouth before I think. It is easy to speak words that put me in a good light, even if they may not be totally true. I do know that I too have been untruthful at times. God forgive me!
The problem with outwardly sinful behavior, especially for a Christian, is that our lives, as children of God, speak to others about the Lord who lives in us. When we sin that message and witness that we give is not positive. That is why Jesus tells His disciples, “ . . . let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 ESV) When we live honest, righteous, loving lives, we give a good message about God. But, when we act in unloving, untruthful, dishonest ways, the message we give about God is not positive. In fact, many people have been turned off to God by the sinful, dishonest, and unloving actions of people following the Lord.
However, there is another witness Christians can give, a very important witness. We can admit and confess our sin. God encourages us to confess, to repent of our sin and to turn to Him. “8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John. 1:8-9 ESV) Confession of our failings is not only honest, but when we admit our sins, we point to a need everyone has, the need of a Savior to forgive us. Thankfully, God sent His Son to pay the price for our sins. Thankfully, our Savior speaks truth. Jesus IS truth!
Therefore, knowing that God forgives us when we confess our sin and trust the suffering and death of Jesus, the Lord is helping us to live for Him. He helps us to speak the truth. If God loves and forgives those who have rebelled against Him, then we want to serve Him. If God forgives us for Jesus’ sake, we can admit our sins, knowing the promised grace of God is true. And, when we confess, then we are honest. When we confess we give a good witness to others about God who forgives us, who saves us, and who lives in us.
I felt betrayed after the gas station publicized one price for gasoline, and then charged another amount. People can also be disappointed in us if we talk about the love and the goodness of God, and then we live in a selfish, dishonest, or sinful way. So, one of the best things we can do to witness to God is to admit our weaknesses, and point to the righteous God who is also merciful and forgiving. We all need a Savior!