There was money everywhere; floating in the air, laying on the roadway and scattered in the ditches. The DJ on the radio reported it as a dream come true, an armored car’s back door had not been properly secured and as the truck drove down the freeway it was dispensing money, seemingly free for the taking. The radio announcer went on to suggest all the things one might do with such a lucky find and compared it to winning the lottery.
Isn’t it interesting that one thing he didn’t suggest was returning it? After all, the money belonged to someone else. As much as I hate to admit it, there was a time I would have been all in with this idea, thinking I had hit pay dirt and filling my pockets. Today I recognize keeping it would be dishonest.
I know, I know, you’re thinking “fun hater.” But it’s true. And the thing about truth is, a thing is either true or it’s not. It is either my money or it is not. Stealing is taking something that doesn’t belong to you, no matter how much one would wish to justify the circumstances. As I thought about where the money had come from, I knew there were people who had earned that money and were counting on it being credited to their bank account and of the chaos that was a result of the situation. There is the security guard who was responsible for the mishap. Was he distracted by his phone? Did he have a fight with his wife or was he suffering from a hangover when he neglected to do his duty properly? I wonder if he was completely honest in his recounting the story, taking responsibility for his part in it? I thought of the insurance company who was responsible for covering the cost and make no mistake there is a cost to be counted at the very least causing insurance rates go up. There are ripple effects and nameless victims I haven’t even thought of. But most of all I thought how much less of a problem it would be for everyone involved if the people collecting up the cash turned it in and those responsible for its loss told the truth. It would send shock waves around the world! Honesty, after all is indeed the best policy. Unfortunately, it is also a rare commodity.
Dishonesty usually begins by inches; a little trickle that turns into a mighty and destructive flood that will spread far and wide. I lie about little things and it’s not long before I am lying about the big things. I get so far from truth that I choose to exchange it for a lie by attempting to justify my behavior or it by calling it modern or what everyone else is doing. And don’t miss this, there is always finger pointing and blame involved when we choose not to roll with the truth. Others tend to respond in kind to our words and our actions and like a boomerang it comes back at us; and pretty soon an entire culture is perched on the edge of a precipice of destruction. At that point few remember what is true and what is false because we have lost sight of truth as an absolute and truth becomes relative to our own ideas and experiences. It is a path fraught with danger. God says, “So I gave them up unto to their own hearts lust; and they walked in their own counsels.” I have been there, done that, and it has not worked; chaos inevitably follows. Adolf Hilter said, “The best way to defeat your enemies is to divide them,” and absence of truth divides.
I think of all the times I have defended my own little white lies and dishonest behavior. Here is a short list: Didn’t want my folks to know who I was with and/or what I was doing, so I fibbed. I don’t want to meet up with someone I dislike so I lie about my plans. I want to lose weight and be healthy but keep lying to myself about eating right and exercise. I want my marriage to improve as I continue lying to myself about my part in the troubles. If I spend too much of my time listening to the lies whispered in my ear and promoted in the culture around me I fall in line with herd mentality. “It’s not so bad.” “Everyone does it these days.” “It’s not your fault.” “It’s ok, he/she hurt you first so they deserve what you give them.” When I buy into this sort of thinking I fall victim to the Master Deceiver, Satan. His very name means Adversary or Enemy. He is also known as the Devil, a name that comes from the Greek word Diabolos which is translated slanderer or liar. It is he who coaxes me on to buy the lie and it is me who completes the sale by doing the next wrong thing. From there the damage to self and others only grows.
Because I have been given the opportunity for a do over by placing my faith and trust in Jesus, his Holy Spirit has taken up residence in me, and therefore I have hope! Jesus said, “Those who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.” Christ in me means I have the very source of truth guiding my mind, heart and actions. So, as a new creation I have to ask myself who I am listening to and why? Why I would listen to the arch enemy of Jesus (God with skin on); who is also the arch enemy of all of mankind since human beings are created in the image of God? Don’t I need to be listening to the Manufacturer, my Maker? In order to listen for God’s voice of truth, I have to know God. Doesn’t that imply reading the Owner’s Manual might be helpful in learning to know the sound of his voice?
My biggest stumbling block is me and my stubborn pride. It’s the same old song and dance that caused Eve to be deceived (and yes ladies it was the woman who was first deceived, don’t gloss over that fact) and because misery loves company she brought her husband Adam along for the ride. (and gentlemen don’t miss the fact he went along willingly). Sir Walter Scott is credited with the phrase, “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” A modern version is the old playground taunt, “liar, liar, pants on fire. “I think our pants are on fire because inevitably we end up in the hot seat!
Honest Abe Lincoln said, ‘Right makes might.” Jesus said, “A house divided cannot stand.” Living a duplicitous (double) life based on untruth divides me at the very heart of my being, my soul. It robs me of integrity, cripples me and leads down the path of despair. Seeking truth leads me to have the courage to continue to do right and the peace of mind that is its best reward because when I tell the truth, I don’t have to remember what I said!
Living an honest life is simple, but not easy and quite impossible without Divine intervention and assistance. Progress, not perfection is the goal.
Our only other option is pants on fire and a first-class seat in the smoking section.
Be joy filled always,