Skimming the Truth

The thing is. I didn’t lie. I didn’t embellish. But I still didn’t tell the truth. I omitted facts in my story that would have implicated me. No. It wasn’t a harmful omission. It just wasn’t a full truth. And God checked me on it. 

Oh. When I was sharing the story, I realized I should give the full details. But in a moment of self-righteousness, I omitted the information that would bring me down a notch in the other person’s eyes. So, I just didn’t share that part of the story. I didn’t realize when the conversation started that I would be faced with this dilemma, and I was a little caught off guard.

And then God tapped on my heart. And I couldn’t ignore the tap. So, I set the story straight and shared all the details. She probably didn’t think a thing about it, but I knew that I had set things right between me and my God. And that is the way I want to live my life. Keeping things straight between me and God.

I knew I needed to be exonerated in God’s eyes. Because. After all. If I ignore his tug on my heart for a seemingly inconsequential omission of information, what will I do when in a situation of consequence? If I can’t own up in the small offenses, I surely won’t have the courage to do or say the right thing in a really tough situation. 

Partial truth is not complete truth. Obviously. So is it truth? We live as if it is. Oh. We say. I didn’t lie. But if we don’t tell the entire true story, we’re leaving out vital information. And that information could steer the hearer to a different conclusion. And sometimes that’s the goal we’re aiming for. Giving enough truth to call it truth, but making sure the listener doesn’t get all the facts that leads them to a decision, act or thought that goes against our objective. It’s a faulty thing this manipulation of people and actions and facts. We need to be careful.

My dad used to say that a lie was the skin of the truth. And he was right. When the layers of the story are peeled back, it moves further from the truth. Especially if we have to stretch the information to put ourselves in a good light. The conscience will only prick for so long until a callous forms. And then it hardens to the truth. Until the day comes that truth is basically invisible. Then we must ask the question. Is it still truth?

Tell the truth. No matter what.

We lie because we’re threatened by the truth.

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:12‭-‬14

Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord , my rock and my redeemer. Psalms 19:13-14

The Jews and Gentiles were a mixed lot. The Jewish nation was chosen by God as his treasured possession. His son, Jesus, would be born into their nation to save us from our sinful condition. Then there were the Gentiles. They had their own separate beliefs, which were much more relaxed than Jewish traditions. The apostles Peter and Paul had preached to them about the good news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They wanted the Gentiles to know that Jesus died not only for the sins of the Jewish people, but he died for the Gentiles, as well.

Since the Jews had many regulations about food preparation and foods they were allowed to eat, anyone who was a Jew wouldn’t eat with those who weren’t of their persuasion. But when Peter spent time with the Gentiles, he ate with them. He gave up his Jewish rules in order to share the good news of salvation with his Gentile friends. He became one of them to win them to Christianity. He wasn’t trying to change their traditions. But then, some Jewish friends came to visit. All of a sudden, Peter no longer ate with the Gentiles. He became a strict Jew again. While living among the Gentiles, Peter snubbed them because his Jewish friends came to visit. Perhaps he felt torn between the two groups of people. Perhaps he was unsure how to please his Jewish brothers but still continue his relationship with the Gentiles. It was a touchy subject, to say the least.

Instead of skimming the truth with our words and actions, we need to preserve it. Let’s preserve the truth by making sure that’s all we say. No cutting corners. No exaggerations. No hedging. If we can’t say the truth, then we should be silent. And if we can’t be silent, then we should speak the truth. I know. At times, we get caught off guard. That’s what happened to me. I wasn’t planning to skim the truth, but there it was. I didn’t tell the full side of my story, so I led my listener to believe something of me that wasn’t true. And I’m sure it didn’t bother her in the slightest when I corrected my story. But it mattered to me.

And when Peter stopped eating with the Gentiles, he was hedging the truth to both the Jews and Gentiles. In his case, Paul set him straight. Paul confronted him and demanded he live authentically at all times. That’s exactly what we as followers of Christ are called to today. We must live authentic Christian lives. We must be willing to speak truth, not only in inconsequential conversations, but in all situations. Because when we are in the throes of a heavy conversation, we’ll be in a position to naturally speak truth. Even if it’s uncomfortable. Let’s be authentic. Let’s be truth tellers.

If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me. Psalms 66:18-20

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