Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God


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34. Talking truth or trash? – Part 1

Exodus 20:16 – “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.

As we continue in our series “Relationship not Rules” we come to the ninth command “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.” It’s here that once again we are reminded by God of what matters most, our relationships. Because once again, we see that the reason for this command revolves around relationship. Why does God want us to talk truth to each other because trash talk destroys trust which is the foundation of relationship. The 9th commandment affects the whole world whether you are a Christian or not. Because the whole of humanity suffers when the truth is sacrificed for lies. Sadly, lying has become a way of life in our culture, and many no longer see it as wrong but believe it to be just a normal part of life. It is tragic to realize just how easily we accept bending the truth and because we as the adults of our society have modeled falsehoods so well it has become the second language of our youth. Truth is a treasure and it’s something we should take seriously. How many of us can say that this last week we told the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth? So, why did we lie? It’s here in the ninth command that we are confronted with the question, is our talk one of truth or one of trash? Either we will be Bearers of Freedom and Truth or we will be:

I. BEARING A FALSE TESTIMONY

A. Types

  1. The Obvious Lie

This is when truth is altered to say something that is simply not true. This is illustrated so well in the following story: Lincoln was trying to make a point, but his hearer was unconvinced and stubborn. So, Lincoln tried another approach. He said to the disputer, “Well, let’s see now. How many legs does a cow have?” The disgusted reply came back “Four, of course.” Lincoln agreed, “That’s right. Now, suppose you call the cow’s tail a leg; how many legs would the cow have?” The opponent replied confidently, “Why, five, of course.” Lincoln came back, “Now that’s where you’re wrong. Calling a cow’s tail, a leg doesn’t make it a leg!” No amount of telling a falsehood will change the truth, but it will change the relationship we have with the person we lied to or about. When truth is not given, everyone loses. The only thing preventing a meltdown of human society are the words spoken in our judicial system: “Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” Why has the world adopted this biblical principle of truth in its courtrooms, because if we lie people may die. Maybe not physically but we may kill their freedom, ruin their reputation, and murder justice. God’s Word commands us to guard our hearts against the damage that comes to both us and others when we bear false witness and lie. No society will long endure, nor will any human relationship that is not founded on truth. On a beautiful fall day, four young ladies decided to go for a drive instead of showing up to class on time. When they did arrive, the girls explained to the teacher they had had a flat tire. The teacher accepted the excuse, much to the girls’ relief. She then said, “Since you missed this morning’s quiz, you must take it now, please sit in the four corner seats in this room without talking.” When they were seated, the teacher said, “On your paper write the answer to one question: ’Which tire was flat?’”

  1. Libel

This is defamation where we use the truth in such a way as to hurt someone, sometimes in a court of law it is called, “malicious intent.” While this is not an actual lie, it is the use of truth to still bear a false witness in such a way as to do damage to someone. Are you using the truth in a righteous way or a wrong way? Let me try to help you understand this with the following illustration: The editor of a small-town newspaper grew tired of being called a liar, and announced that he would tell the truth in the future. The next issue contained the following item: “Married–Miss Sylvan Rhodes and James Collins, last Saturday at the Baptist parsonage, by the Rev. J. Gordon. The bride is a very ordinary town girl, who doesn’t know any more about cooking than a jackrabbit, and never helped her mother three days in her life. She is not a beauty by any means and has a gait like a duck. The groom is an up-to-date loafer. He has been living off the old folks at home all his life and is now worth shucks. It will be a hard life.”

  1. Slander

This is a lie intended to damage someone or protect self. It was this particular type of lie that God’s Word warned against in Deuteronomy 19:15-19. So serious was the danger of this type of lie that God’s Word declared that all such facts must be established by more than a single witness or the person should not be held for punishment. The breach of relationships is a serious issue to God and lying destroys all such relationships.

  1. Exaggeration

This is where we try to stretch the truth. While it may seem innocent it can leave casualties, because when the truth gets stretched relationships can be too. Often, we exaggerate to make ourselves look good or to be liked. This is where the 12” fish is stretched to become the 30” fish. Why because we want to impress people. While this may seem harmless after a while it will be difficult for people to trust and take at face value what we say. It can also create false impressions of others that can lead to bad relationships. Exaggeration is one of the most common forms of lying and sadly seems to come easily for most people. In Boston a minister noticed a group of boys standing around a small stray dog. “What are you doing, boys?” “Telling lies,” said one of the boys. “The one who tells the biggest lie gets the dog.” “Why, when I was your age,” the shocked minister said, “I never ever thought of telling a lie.” The boys looked at one another, a little crestfallen. Finally, one of them shrugged and said, “I guess he wins the dog.” As you look at these different types of lies are there any present in your life? Is your talk one of truth or one of trash?


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33. The Truth about Taking – Part 3

Exodus 20:15- “You must not steal.”

Malachi 3:8-14

“Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! “But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’ “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. 10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! 11 Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease.[a] Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 12 “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 13 “You have said terrible things about me,” says the Lord. “But you say, ‘What do you mean? What have we said against you?’ 14 “You have said, ‘What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the Lord of Heaven’s Armies that we are sorry for our sins?

It’s not just stealing from others that has an impact on our relationships but also:

  1. STEALING FROM GOD

A. Responsibilities

Not only can we steal from each other, but we can also steal from God! Usually those who have no problem taking from God will have less a problem taking from others. Because if we are willing to be irresponsible in our relationship with God there is a good possibility that we will be irresponsible in our relationship with others. The same Israel that kept back their tithes from God had also learned to take advantage of one another and the whole nation was under a curse as a result. Because Israel as a people had withheld or misused their tithes the temple of God was empty and could not meet anyone’s needs, so people resorted to stealing in order to meet their own needs. Worship had no meaning because there was no sacrifice made by the one who claimed to be a worshipper. Without sacrifice there is no value! But a giving Church is a powerful Church regardless of the size of the congregation or the collection. It’s not about the size of the gift but the heart of the giver. Do you know of any churches composed entirely of givers? Dr. Hugh McKean of Chiengmai, Thailand, tells of a church of four hundred members where every member tithes. They receive a weekly wage of forty stangs (less than twenty cents] and their rice. Of this meager existence, each gives a tenth every week. Because of this, they have done more for Christ in Thailand than any other church. They pay their own preacher and have sent two missionary families to spread the gospel in a community cut off from the outside world. They are intensely interested in all forms of Christian work, especially work for unfortunates of every kind; and their gifts for this kind of work are large. They have not only accepted Christ, but, having found Him good, they are making Him known to others. Oh, by the way, this church of all tithers is also a church of all lepers, every person has leprosy. These lepers were touched by the love of a man who took God’s gift of being a medical doctor and became a missionary to lepers. He taught them the lesson of loving which involves the gift of giving. But when we keep back from God, He is not able to bless us so that the less we give, the less we have as an individual and as a nation. Instead of being a blessing and helping they end up hurting. It has always been the nations who are most generous that are most blessed, a characteristic of our country in times past, and based on the Judeo Christian ethic that our country was founded on. As a nation moves away from God its blessings tend to decline, proof of the principle found here in Malachi. We carry a responsibility before God to honor Him with what is His, even Jesus said to “give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s” Matthew 22:21 clearly a reference to both taxes and tithes. Rather than getting ahead, Israel actually became poorer when they failed to honor God with their tithes, the act of stealing had really robbed them of blessings. What about you, have you ever defrauded the Deity by withholding your tithe of treasure or time? Many of us try to cheat Christ by giving Him our leftovers instead of our lives. So often we approach tithing based on the amount instead of the Almighty. And so, we make it about the percent instead of the person. We give based on a formula instead of faith. When we do our giving is based on our head and not our heart. But tithing is not an intellectual decision but rather our love for the Lord. It revolves around relationship not rules. God loves a cheerful giver not a calculated giver. When we give instead of asking how much of my money am I going to give we need to ask how much of Gods money are we I going to keep.

B. Rewards

God honors givers, for the ultimate giver is God Himself, and when we give, we reflect His grace. This is what Israel failed to understand, that by keeping back their tithes they not only robbed God, but they ruined their own welfare and their witness. Instead of being a light for the Lord they become a testimony to selfishness and Satan. Stealing from God does not just impact us in the material realm however, the greatest losses are spiritual. Israel had become a “me first” nation, not unlike what we are seeing in our own society today as we move away from God. The more the people kept from God the more God kept from them. They were missing out on great rewards, and not just materially, their nation was missing out on a reputation of being called a “blessed nation” by all the other nations. They were missing out on being a shining lighthouse to the world. In this way they were losing the opportunity to give witness to God’s grace. God’s presence is reflected in the life of givers. When we honor God, our hearts will be full, and the rewards will be greater than just material in scope. Because God will give what money can’t buy or satisfy, God will fill your life. While money can fill the bank it won’t fill your tank because it doesn’t satisfy the soul. Giving to God results in joy, trust, and even the witness of others who find Christ as a result of our gift. Is giving to God a joy or a job for you? Those who give to God for all the rights reasons bring a joy to others as well as themselves. This is illustrated so well in the life of one missionary to Africa. There was a knock on the door of the hut occupied by a missionary in Africa. Answering, the missionary found one of the native boys holding a large fish in his hands. The boy said, “Reverend, you taught us what tithing is, so here–I’ve brought you my tithe.” As the missionary gratefully took the fish, he questioned the young lad. “If this is your tithe, where are the other nine fish?” At this, the boy beamed and said, “Oh, they’re still back in the river. I’m going back to catch them now.” We cannot expect God’s richest blessings on us or our nation if we rob Him of our tithes and offerings. But look at verse 10 and see what God promises to those who trust Him with their tithe” “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in!” You can’t out give God. But we don’t give to get we give because we love God. What about you, does your life reflect one of giving or taking?