12/09/2009 09:37:00 pm


Posted by Unknown |

At Bible Study lately I've been running a series of studies on The Sermon on the Mount. I've been really enjoying it.

I love the Sermon on the Mount because Jesus just kicks arse. It's like he says, "You think you're good? Your good ain't good enough. I'll show you what good is." There's a lifetime of work just in the Beatitudes. If you take Jesus seriously and the Sermon on the Mount doesn't change your life then you probably don't take Jesus seriously.

Anyway, this week was on loving your enemies, last week was on this passage:

"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. - Matt 5:33-37

Before I prepared the study on this passage I didn't expect it to be that big a deal for me. I figured, "I'm pretty good at commitment. I do what I say I'm going to do." But alas my pride was misplaced.

As it turned out I went with the line of living with integrity. Letting your words be truthful. There are no layers of truth. You can't make something more truthful by swearing on the Bible, and less truthful by swearing on your shoe. Truth is truth is truth, and Jesus calls us to be people of truth all the time.

If I were to just give a cursory assessment of my life I'd reckon I was a pretty truthful guy. I never tell big lies. When I say things it's almost always truthful, or at least a part of it. And there-in lies the problem. While it's rare that I tell outright lies, I do regularly not tell people the whole truth. I don't want people to think badly of me. And I don't want to let people down. So when people ask me questions and I think they won't find the answer satisfactory I will regularly tell a version of the truth which I think is most palatable.

For instance say someone asks me to write an article for the the church bulletin (as would happen in the past) and I say "Yes". So I go away, think about it a little bit, open a word document, write two sentences, don't like them, can't think of anything else, and then move on to something else.

A few days later they need the article. So they say "Tom do you have the article ready for me?"

The truth is "No" or "No, I haven't written it yet."

But I say "No, but it's getting there. I've been writing it and thinking about it, I just need to get it properly finished. When do you need it by?"

So it's technically true. But I've given them a false impression and then distracted them by being really proactive and asking for a deadline. Hopefully they go away thinking "Gosh, Tom is a hard worker, and it he's really reliable, he'll get it done when I need it." When really they should be thinking "Tom is such a slacker."

And when they asked me to write the silly thing I should have asked for the deadline then so that I could just slack off till it's due because that's what I would have done anyway. And when they ask for it, I can say "No, but you don't need it till tomorrow do you?"

Sometimes I'll tell some misleading version of the truth to make me feel ok about not lying and them feel ok because I'm a good guy, when I really should just be saying "Sorry, I'm crap."

Anyway, I've been working hard since I did the Bible Study to tell the whole truth. I haven't succeeded all the time but I've been better at it. And I'm certainly aware that I'm crapper than I think I am.