WALK BY FAITH DEVOTIONAL – 4/6/2013
It is astonishing to me how increasingly unpopular the truth has become, particularly in a world in such desperate need of salvation and healing. I am not sure I have ever been so disliked, so hated, so judged, so rejected, and so despised for having the courage to speak the truth.
Even friends, even family, yes, even loved ones, have gotten rid of me for speaking the truth. And, of course, so have strangers. But how surprised should I really be in an ever-darkening world, in a world so afraid of being exposed in the light for that which humans prefer to keep in secret in the dark?
Just very recently, I shared an ongoing concern with a loved one about a choice he has made to yolk himself to something dark and deceptive. He exploded in rage. Maybe that was preferable to a friend several weeks back who kicked me out of her life again because I let her know something she was doing could be illegal. But then, it was so much easier to be kicked out of a friend’s life for telling the truth than to be banned from my family for nearly 20 years for bringing a skeleton out of the closet regarding a crime that had been committed against me. How does this compare to being rejected by friends for letting them know their behavior with their animals could warrant a call to animal control?
But is any of the dislike, the hatred, the judgment, the rejection, and the despising really a surprise in a world when lies are more popular than truth, where deception is more attractive than honesty, when secrets are more precious than having everything out on the table? Whatever happened to the Bible’s call for us to speak the truth in love? When along the highway of life’s journey did that call become unnecessary, or even forbidden?
The person I spoke to recently engages in a program that teaches all gods are okay, that all life choices are pretty much okay except one, that sin isn’t sin, that a doorknob and a leaf are as effective a god as any other, that people can gather in a circle holding hands praying a prayer to “our Father in heaven” while praying it to any god – yes, even a doorknob god.
So who am I to judge, right? I can hear it already. I have heard it before. Maybe a better question is, who am I to love? Because somewhere along the way I learned that real love tells the truth, that real love has the courage to speak the truth in love, that real love shares concerns, that real love risks rejection for the sake of helping another, that real love steps away from the river of fear of being hated and prefers the light to the darkness, and yes, that real love even speaks the name Jesus as the Savior of the world knowing very well that persecution might come in response.
The funny, or perhaps sad, thing is that I grew up in a family that taught all about morals and honesty. Yet we lived with secrets. And most of my family still does. Except me. But then, I am no longer welcome in the family. Why? Because I chose the light. And if I know nothing else, I know that darkness hates the light. And darkness also hates those who bear the truth, and those who choose to live in the light.
So I have a decision to make. I have a decision to make because I have a choice. I can keep choosing to live in the light, or I can return to the darkness. I can keep choosing to tell the truth, or I can go back to living in the dark. I can love my fellow man, woman, and child, and animals, enough to speak the truth in love, or I can look the other way and pretend nothing bad ever happens. I can muster up the courage to live for Christ, or I can go back to living for the perpetuation of hell.
But in reality, I don’t have a decision to make. For I have already made it. As best I can, as best I am able, through the love of Jesus Christ, I choose to live in the light. I choose to tell the truth. I choose to run the risk of being hated, rejected, despised, and all that oh-so-hard-and-hurtful stuff. And not only is this a risk, but it is a reality. It came as a warning from Jesus Himself, in fact. He was hated, and I will be, too.
You know, I used to live my life doing my very best to get the world to like me. I have pretty much given up doing that, though sometimes the desire, and even some subtle manifestation of it, comes up in my thoughts, and even my actions. But I have pretty much accepted as a follower of Jesus Christ, I will be hated.
Now, mind you, it is one thing to be hated for my sin. Yes, at times I have hurt others because I spoke the truth in judgment, or I spoke the truth in condemnation. Or both. At times, yes, I hurt others with my sin even if my intentions might have been good. Or not. But I’m not speaking of this here. I’m speaking of speaking the truth in LOVE.
And the reality is that the darker the world becomes, the more it will cling to darkness because that is where it does best. That is where sin and darkness thrive – in the dark. So I can pretty much expect more and more hatred to come, and more and more rejection along with it.
But isn’t Jesus worth it? Isn’t my love for the Lord worth taking the world’s hatred? Wouldn’t I rather follow Jesus and do my best to do what is right rather than forsake Jesus to hang on for dear life once again to the world?
I can’t speak for others, but I know my best friends and the people I respect most are the ones who have the courage to speak the truth in love to me. I always, and I mean ALWAYS, have a few followers of Jesus in my life who help me to be accountable to the Lord God almighty. When I am veering off course, or am already off track, they not only pray for me. They not only hug me. They not only reach out to me. They not only bless me with a lunch or dinner out. They tell me the truth. They speak it in love. Yes, they love me enough to tell me the truth. And it helps. They are messengers from God.
How have they done this? Examples. They told me when I needed to leave the anorexia behind. They told me when I was hurting people with my mouth. They told me when I needed to let a loved one go. They told me when I needed to look at the concept of family in a new way. They told me when I was holding onto the past too much to let the present and future in. They told me when I needed to use my Bible verses to fight this war we are in. They told me, they told me, they told me the truth. In love. With love. For the Lord. This is how they loved me.
More and more, however, I am finding fewer and fewer people who want to hear the truth. And I am sad when I do not see in the world around me a hunger for the Lord, a hunger for intimacy with Him, a hunger to get to know Him, a hunger to live for Him, a hunger to be a follower of Jesus, and not merely a believer, a hunger to meet Him, a hunger to learn to apply the Bible to their lives. Yes, I am sad about this. But my sadness will not stop me – it will not stop me from bearing the truth, from speaking the truth, from writing about the truth.
Truth? Yes. And not just any old truth. But the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the truth of the Bible. The truth of how the Lord created us to live. And how, most importantly, HE created us to be in relationship and fellowship with our Father in heaven through faith in His only begotten Son Jesus.
I find it ironic that someone as sensitive to rejection as myself, as emotional as I have always been capable of being, would be chosen by God to bear a message to the world that the world so very much hates. Why didn’t He pick someone with a tough skin, with a hard exterior, with an in-sensitivity to others, with an I-don’t-care-what-people-think attitude to share the Gospel and minister His love to a world in need? I don’t know. Maybe because the very sensitivity that makes the rejection so painful is the sensitivity that allows me to have a greater love and compassion for the world around me.
I was told the road gets narrower for those who follow Jesus. Yes, it does. It gets narrower, and it sometimes feels so very hard to stay upon. But Jesus is the love of my life, and I have every intention to stay upon it. With the truth in hand, with the truth in my heart, and with the truth in my heart. The truth in love.
His Truth. His love. For His glory. And that’s the truth.
Joh 3:17 “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Joh 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Joh 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
Joh 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
Joh 3:21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”
Oh Lord, I seek your forgiveness for every time I have ever spoken the truth without love, for every time I have fallen short of walking in your love, for every time I have judged and condemned rather than walked in your will, I seek this in the name of Jesus who is the LIGHT of the world. Lord, I ask you to continue to give me the courage to speak the truth – and to help me to speak it in YOUR LOVE. Human love fails; it always comes to an end. Your love NEVER fails. So please, Lord, help me to walk in your love.
And when the fiery darts come, and they have, and they are, and they will, please Lord help me to remember to wear the full armor you have given me – including the shield of faith to quench those darts like you say in Ephesians 6. Lord, I can’t, and I don’t want to, and I won’t do this life anymore without you. You, Lord, are the love of my life. And the light of my life. Teach me to walk in your ways, oh Lord.
Help me to be a truth bearer, a Truth bearer, a bearer of your truth. And help me to not look away from the truth, even when it is hard and dark, but instead to remember that through my faith in Jesus you have given me the ability to overcome – and to help a hurting world by sharing the Gospel of your precious Son and by ministering your love wherever you send me. I love you, Lord. I love you forever. Amen.
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