The headlights cut through the dark as we headed home. It was late, but that was okay.
I was still bubbling from the evening.
Energized by the conversation, my extroverted, albeit somewhat socially awkward, self was far from tired, even though it was way past my bedtime. I’d told a funny story at our couples small group, and it brought lots of laughter. Making people laugh, people I didn’t know well, brought me so much happiness. I flung out another silly anecdote, and that one hit home with the group, too.
Now, on the way home, I smiled at the memory of the evening. A successful night.
My husband drove quietly next to me, and in the light of a passing car, I saw his expression. He was unhappy.
But why? We’d just had so much fun! What could he possibly be upset about?
“What’s wrong?” I asked, almost put out that he was spoiling a nice night.
He recounted one of the funny stories I’d told, adding, “But I didn’t say that. You lied. And it wasn’t nearly that dramatic. Why did you lie about it?”
I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. - Matthew 5:34-37
Of course, it’s important not to break a promise, or to swear that something is true when it really isn’t. Lying under oath is not only wrong, it’s criminal. But Jesus cares less about my courtroom behavior or the status of my pinky promises.
Jesus is interested in my heart. An honest heart lives a lifestyle of truth. If I’m a person of integrity, I never have to swear that something is true. My yes means yes, my no means no. Promises and pledges are unnecessary.
But this brings up the next question—
how do I live in honesty?
Where do my lies, my over-exaggeration, my truth stretching come from, anyway?
Fear, stemming from lack of identity, is the cause of a lot of my lies.
For example, let’s look at my storytelling. While stretching the truth a bit (or a little more than a bit) to make people laugh may not seem like that big of a deal, it actually says a lot about the person I think I am.
By embellishing the story, I was living as if…
My life isn’t interesting enough just as it is
Being accepted and pleasing people is more important than the truth
My experiences need to entertain or engage to be worthwhile
Of course, none of those things is true. And they all pop up when I lose sight of my true identity.
When I ask myself my orienting questions, things get clearer.
Who am I?
Where do I live?
No matter what other people think of me, I am loved and valued by God.
God thinks my life is interesting enough to include it in His plan for His Kingdom.
That's who I really am. Valued, important, interesting, included-- all because of what Christ did for me.
The point of my life isn’t to gain funny stories; it’s to walk with God wherever He may lead. And sometimes, there’s nothing entertaining about it. Sometimes, it’s pretty hard. Even in the hard stuff, I live securely in His Kingdom, and I'm one in whom Christ dwells.
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