Honesty. It's Such a Lonely Word.

On October 25, 2005, R and B super group "Destiny’s Child" released their long-awaited greatest-hits album, and as one might guess from the title, for the most part, the album is comprised of their greatest hits. However, like compilations from other artists, "Destiny’s Child" opted to include a few new releases, one of which was a cover of the 1979 Billy Joel hit, “Honesty.” Though I’m not going to sing it for you today, I think the words are quite pertinent to our topic. It starts. . .

If you search for tenderness it isn't hard to find.
You can have the love you need to live.
But if you look for truthfulness you might just as well be blind.
It always seems to be so hard to give.
Honesty is such a lonely word. Everyone is so untrue.
Honesty is hardly ever heard and mostly what I need from you.
In their book, The Day America Told the Truth, authors James Patterson and Peter Kim claim that 90% of people admit to lying regularly; some, up to 25 times a day.

Though men are marginally more likely to do so, it seems many people are willing to lie in order to: dodge trouble, make themselves look or feel good or avoid offending others. According to their research, people lie most often about income, accomplishments, abilities, sex lives and age. However, more than anything else, people seem to lie about their true feelings.

The reason being, most of us are afraid of what others will think about us if we tell them how really feel. We’re concerned they will judge, critique, or criticize the way we feel; because that’s what we typically do when others are honest with us. We judge, mock and criticize. Consequently, we often lie about our true feelings to keep from getting hurt.

Needless to say, all this dishonesty Is not only unhelpful but unhealthy as well. It damages our self-image, weakens our relationships and undermines our communities. Fortunately, a majority seem to recognize that it’s a problem.
In fact, according to one survey published by U.S. News and World Report, 54% of people believe that honesty is on the decline and 71% said that this trend was troublesome.

At the same time, if Patterson and Kim’s research is correct, and many other studies indicate that is, a large majority of those same people are at least partially responsible for the problem. That is to say, even those who believe lying is wrong, struggle to tell the truth; and some would say, for good reason.

University of Massachusetts psychologist Robert S. Feldman once said, “It's so easy to lie. We teach our children that honesty is the best policy, but we also tell them it's polite to pretend they like a birthday gift they've been given. Kids get a very mixed message regarding the practical aspects of lying, and it has an impact on how they behave as adults." Whatever the reason, there is little doubt that honesty, or the lack of it, seems to be a pervasive problem in our society today. However, it’s clear that God places a high priority on honesty and truth.

As the Bible tells us, God is the God of truth (Ps. 31. 5 tells); His Word is truth (Daniel), and His Son brought grace and truth into the world (John). Jesus even referred to Himself as "the way, the truth and the light" and he said that he was speaking the truth more than 80 times in the Gospels. Truth and honesty are a priority to God, just as they should be to us.

Consequently, God calls us to live by the truth. He calls us to practice his priorities; follow His teaching and live by His law.

As John, the author of today’s passage wrote, “God is light; in Him, there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.”

Needless to say, there is a good deal of figurative language in this passage meaning God is not literally a big, bright light, nor is he calling us to avoid physical darkness or night time walks.

He’s simply calling us to avoid the deception of spiritual darkness. He’s calling us to resist the lie that we don’t need Him, or that we are ok without Him. He’s calling us to come out of the darkness and into the light; away from deception to live by the truth.

As today’s passage indicates, God calls us to be honest with Him, with ourselves and with others, because truth shapes our relationships. It influences their stability and develops their strength.

In vs. 7, John tells us that, if we walk in God’s light “we have fellowship with one another.” We “share life with one another.” We participate in each other’s triumphs and trials. We support, care for and help one another as we live in community together.

Though it’s not explicitly said, the implication is that without the truth, such relationships, community and fellowship would be impossible and that makes sense. Healthy relationships cannot be developed without mutual trust and sincerity. They cannot be established on patterns of deceit and dishonesty.

As vs. 6 indicates, our relationships with Christ must be built on truth, so too our relationships with one another must be based on the same foundation. Healthy relationships need honesty and truth to mold them and shape them into the mutually beneficial connections God intends them to be.

Otherwise, they become distorted, ugly and useless as they begin to take on the patterns of our selfishness and sin. After all, if we try to create something based on a flawed pattern, it only makes sense that our creation will be flawed as well. Think if it like sewing. Though I don’t actually sew, I know enough about it to realize that it’s impossible to fashion a a strong garment with a flawed pattern. Believe me I know. I tried once in Jr. High economics.

You see, like most Home Ec classes, we were required to do a sewing project based on one of three patterns, including a square pillow, a small book bag or a stuffed football. While most of the girls chose the pillow or the book bag, as you might expect, all the guys chose the football.

Since our teacher encouraged us to “be creative,” most of the guys used different colored material to set their footballs apart, but not me. I wanted to do something really different. I wanted my football to stand out.

Consequently, instead of making a multicolored football like everyone else, I decided to adapt the pattern and make my football 12 times larger. No one in the history of our Jr. High had ever made such an enormous stuffed football, and I was certain that doing so would make me famous. And that it did.

Though I doubt anyone remembers it now, many still asked me about it four years later during my senior year of high school. There was little doubt that my football was famous, but not in the way I wanted it to be. You see, though I didn’t know it at the time, there were some things, I did not understand about increasing the size of a pattern.

For example, though the amount of stuffing needed to fill my oversized football increased exponentially as did the visibility of the irregularities in my pattern. Consequently, my project was not only under stuffed, but it was terribly deformed as well. Instead of looking like an oversized football, as I had intended, it looked more like a genetically altered Idaho potato of gargantuan proportion. That lead a number of my classmates to call me “Spud” for the rest of my 7th grade year.

Nevertheless, despite the embarrassment I felt, that experience taught me a great lesson. It is extremely important to work from a pattern that is true Whether we’re sewing a pillow, laying tile, writing a poem or building a relationship, it is crucial to start with what is accurate, right, correct, real, genuine, authentic and true.

Just as our relationship with Christ begins with the truth that we are sinners in need of the healing and grace that only He can provide, so too our relationship with others must begin with that same truth.

We must acknowledge our own selfishness, bitterness, pride and greed. We must recognize that all of us are broken and need to be fixed. We must enter every relationship with a willingness to admit our own mistakes, an eagerness to make appropriate restitution and a desire to forgive and be forgiven.

That’s what it means to live by God’s truth, for whether we like it or not, the truth exposes our weaknesses. It demonstrates that none of us are perfect. It reminds us that we are all people in need of God, patients in need of a Doctor, sinners in need of a Savior. As John explained, light has come into the world, but people prefer the darkness because they do what is selfish. Consequently, they hate the light and avoid it because they fear their selfishness will be exposed.

For you see, God’s truth does expose our weakness. It reveals our brokenness and demonstrates that we are not perfect. It shows us when our lives are conflicting with Gods will, and prescribes a remedy to that dilemma.

Of course, such exposure can be quite uncomfortable and more than a little disconcerting. After all, when we are truthful about our own sin and brokenness, we are eventually forced to deal with it. We are forced to address the problems in our lives, just as we do problems with our cars or our homes. You may think I’m crazy, that all sounds quite appealing to me.

I mean, personally, I like doing home-improvement projects. I like building things and making our house more valuable. Nevertheless, there are certain improvements and repairs that I don’t like to do because they are dangerous, dirty or have the potential to do damage--like electricity or even plumbing. Such things I’d rather not do because they are beyond my area of expertise and thus make me very uncomfortable. Nevertheless, when things go wrong, they have to be fixed before the create bigger problems. That’s just the way it is.

Like, when we lived in San Antonio, we seemed to have on going problems with drippy faucets, leaky drains and temperamental toilets– specially the one in our main floor powder room. It ran constantly, never flushed properly and always seemed to be just a bit wobbly, no matter how much I tightened it down.

Though I guessed that part of the problem was the uneven concrete floor on which this toilet sat, I feared that the bigger problem was a weak flange to which it was bolted. However, the only way I could be certain was to take up the toilet and expose the problem.

Once I did, my suspicion was confirmed; and though I had no idea how to replace a flange that was surrounded with concrete, as soon as the problem was exposed, I had no choice. I was forced to fix it before it became even bigger.

In the same way, when our brokenness is exposed by God’s truth, we must eventually address the problem before it becomes even bigger. We must address the sin in our lives before it ruins our relationships, destroys our finances or paralyzes our hearts to the point they are no longer able to feel anything but bitterness, suspicion and fear.

Yes. Living by God’s truth can be uncomfortable because it exposes our weaknesses. However, as John continues to tell us, those who live by God’s truth don’t care. We don’t care if our selfishness is uncovered. We don’t care if our weakness is exposed because we know that all has been forgiven.

As John writes in today’s passage, when we walk in the light, when we live by the truth, His blood, His sacrifice, it cleanses and purifies us. Like a hot shower after working all day in the sun, Jesus’ sacrifice washes away all our guilt and sin so that we are spotless in God’s eyes.

Living by God’s truth can be absolutely uncomfortable and maybe even a bit terrifying when it exposes our weakness and faults, but those who do have nothing to fear, because we know that the truth provides our healing.

Vs. 9 tells us that, “If we confess our sins, He (meaning Jesus) is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Keep in mind, when John says “if,” he does not mean we will only be forgiven of those sins we specifically confess.

He simply means that when we have a humble heart, when we have a repentant attitude, when we turn from our selfishness; admit our failures, acknowledge our faults and candidly concede that we are broken, God forgives us.

He heals us; He removes our guilt and restores our innocence, because he is faithful; He is right; He is trustworthy; He is honest; He is true. In Him, there is no error, falsehood or deceit; For God is the truth that provides our healing.

And God’s healing is nothing like the healing we get from our doctors when we have an infection or broken bone. For though they are may be knowledgeable and skillful at what they do, they are not really healers. On the contrary, doctors diagnose problems. They stop decay and repair damage. They even make it possible for our bodies to heal, but doctors don’t actually heal us. Only God can do that.

Only God can provide true healing. Only God can fix what is broken inside us and restore us to absolute health. Only God can do that through His truth, which shapes our relationships, exposes our weaknesses and provides our healing, a healing that would address the deceit in our hearts and our society as well.

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that when it comes to lying most people believe that politicians are most likely to do so. They are followed closely by salesmen, marketers, lawyers, journalists, builders and lastly (believe it or not) entertainers.

However, if we were completely truthful with ourselves, we’d have to admit that even if all those people were bound together in a group, there are not enough of them to make up the 90% of the population that lies every day.

Truth be told, more often than not, we are the ones who fail to be honest with ourselves, with one another, and with God. He calls us to live by His truth. He calls us to acknowledge our brokenness openly, freely accept our need for healing, and honestly seek the forgiveness of others. He calls us to live by His truth because through it, he changes us and makes us into the people, he wants us to be.