Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. AND YOU WILL KNOW THE TRUTH AND THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE.” NLT
“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”
Seth hopped in the van after school a few days ago and said, “You know what bothers me? When I tell you the truth and get in trouble.”
I had to pause for a second and think about that before asking him what he needed to tell me. How often do we hide the truth from someone simply because we don’t want to face the consequences of “the truth”? How often does the fact that we’ve hidden the truth distract us from everything we should be paying attention to? How often does covering up the truth lead to a whole snowball of lies and guilt and shame and paranoia and distrust?
Before I created this entire blogpost in my thoughts, I stopped and focused on my son. I assured him that even though the consequences of telling the truth can sometimes be painful, it hurts much worse to hide the truth or tell a lie. He then informed me that he used his lunch money to buy a cookie even though he knew that it meant he might have to start taking his lunch (He HATES to take a lunch).
I then had to choose how I would react. He’s been told that if he uses the money from his account for snacks, he will no longer have money on his account. So…do I leave him with no balance and pack him a lunch every day (not a big deal because I’m already packing Sofija’s) or do I show him some grace? At the same moment that I began to ponder this question, I remembered two things.
First: My husband and I had a night a couple of years ago when he was in Iraq where we decided that the truth was always worth the consequences. We realized that there were many moments when our own guilt or shame over a failure to tell the whole truth led to lies, emotional walls and us not trusting one another. The result of that all night conversation has been freedom. “AND YOU WILL KNOW THE TRUTH AND THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE.” It’s true! Secrets and lies will destroy you. Period. The flip side of that is that when someone tells us their truth, we have to show them some grace. So I did. I showed him some grace. To be honest I wanted to laugh. I resisted the urge. I told him that I forgive him and that he gets one more chance. A brilliant friend yesterday suggested that from this point forward I just make him pay me back when he uses his lunch account for snacks. I’m still pondering that idea, but I’m feeling pretty good about teaching him a lesson in honesty.
Which leads to the second thought that came to mind before I showed him grace. When I was finishing up my psychology degree I decided to use my last few electives to take psych classes that interested me. One of them was criminal psychology for psychology majors (there was a completely different curriculum for criminology majors). My professor ended up suggesting that I go to law school because I did such a great job at arguing my case against everything he was teaching. But…I learned A LOT in his class. I was completely fascinated with studying serial killers and the minute I thought about how to react to Seth’s confession I recalled the Toy-Box Killer. His story haunted me for quite a while after I read about him and for various reasons, he’s been a recurring topic of conversation for the past few days. His real name was David Parker Ray and he was also known as the Truth or Consequences Killer because he took his victims to his home near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. That’s actually the name of a town. Truth or Consequences. I’ve never studied anything about the history of that town, but I’d love to know the reasoning behind that name. I think they should change it to Truth AND Consequences.
“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ…” Christ didn’t have it easy. He told the truth. He lived the truth. And he did it all with the knowledge that he would face horrible consequences. If we call ourselves Christians, aren’t we saying that we strive to be like Christ? Shouldn’t we always tell the truth with the knowledge that there will likely be consequences? Aren’t the consequences of telling the truth always so much easier than the consequences of not telling it?
“O Lord, who may stay in your tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
The one who walks with integrity,
does what is righteous,
and SPEAKS THE TRUTH WITHIN HIS/HER HEART.”