We all have that friend that is not afraid to say what they think. When you want to know the truth, you call them. When you ask “how do I look or how does this communicate,” you are ready for the real answer that does not tip toe around feelings. If they are healthy, they can be a great gift in helping you grow. If they are not healthy, they can be a dangerous grenade thrower. If you don’t have a healthy friend like this, find one and know that they are not against you.
We might also be able to identify friends who do not want you to tell them the truth. They do not say this out loud, but you know from experience that they want to hear what confirms what they think and feel. In fact, life often seems to work for these people because they get their way because people do not want to deal with the consequences of shaking up the person’s reality. You just learn to avoid or go with what the person says to “get along.” The person has no desire to change because things are “working for them” in this unhealthy structure.
I would dare say that we have a culture of people who have their hands over their ears, and more and more, we are encouraged to tip toe around each other. We are not practicing healthy truth telling. Because of our own fear of reactions and cost, we say nothing or we say empty, nebulous things to make people feel better about their lives. Sometimes we call this love and kindness, but is it really?
People pleasing is my natural talent, and what worked for me in childhood does not serve me well now. It is empty lacking in reality, substance, meaning or value, and it’s about my comfort. So, I have been on a journey in adulthood to practice true kindness and love which means I do not always tell someone what they want to hear. I have realized, through study of God’s word, that people pleasing is actually deceit.
Deceit–The act of causing someone to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid; fraud: the action or practice of deceiving someone by concealing or misrepresenting the truth, cunning, craftiness; behavior that is deliberately intended to make people believe something which is not true
In a quest to not offend (which is getting harder and harder to do), we say nothing or say something so fluffy that it dissolves like cotton candy in our mouths. Let’s all get along….hmmm…what is the real substance and point of that besides our comfort for a moment? When we put our energy there, we are not focusing on things that are true and life-giving. We are rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic while some really evil and costly and devastating things are going down in our lives and the lives of those around us.
The more I am in God’s word, the more I am aware of the pitfalls of evil that I have adopted as “good living” in our culture. I need the truth told to me, and His word is truth, grace, hope, love, righteousness. I am transformed by His grace and teaching so that I may take courage to bring that kindness to others. His word reminds me that we are in a Titanic situation and that we are so blinded by our sin and desires that are actually devouring and destroying us instead of bringing true freedom and life. We are deceived. In fact, The Enemy, Satan, has a nickname–The Deceiver, The Father of Lies. We gobble lies up because they feed the desires that are within us. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
We have to recognize that there is an enemy within and on the outside. The one on the outside knows how to entice us in all the right places. All the letters to the churches in the New Testament warn about the people being deceived by false teaching. “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) So, think Elizabeth Holmes style fraud–it looks great, seems great, seems legit, but it’s all a lie. We are warned to be active in guarding our minds and hearts against it. “Let no one deceive you with empty words…” (Ephesians 5:6) And…surprise, surprise, our culture and human nature were called out long ago with this warning “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but have itching ears (to hear what they want to hear) they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
I have been wrestling with how to enter in and use the voice God has given me. Seriously, I am filled with fear and want er’body to get along. I am selfish and don’t want to deal with push back or conflict. How’s that for honesty? How’s that for my straight-up sin? When I get perspective from the Spirit teaching me from God’s word, I can see the world and myself with a truthful lens. It is then that I see the hearts of friends and family and strangers and myself being deceived into thinking evil is good and good is evil. It is then that I get my desperate need for grace (favor that I did not earn). It is then that I can love others in a way that is courageous and thinks of their needs above my own need for comfort and being liked. It is then that I know that I want people to taste real freedom and real redemption, and I want to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, strength….and words. So, I pray I can be one of those kind and courageous truth-tellers that you can trust. I will struggle and forget, but He is faithful to remind me to guard the trust He has deposited within me.