Honest To God

In the 1997 movie Liar Liar, Jim Carrey plays the role of Fletcher Reed, a fast talking attorney, habitual liar, and divorced father who has built his successful law career on deceit. He’s also a poor excuse for a father, consistently choosing his job over his young son Max, even missing his birthday party. But Max gets his birthday wish: that his dad would go one day without being able to lie. Hilarity ensues.

What would your life look like if you never lied or exaggerated? What if you lived truthfully and honestly in all of your relationships, with complete integrity?

What would be required of you?

Please join us in today’s daily Bible conversation.

TODAY’S READING

Daniel 2:24-3:30
1 Peter 4:7-5:14
Psalm 119:81-96
Proverbs 28:15-16

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

1 Peter 4:7-5:14. At the beginning of this section, Paul writes,

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides.
1 Peter 4:10–11

Peter’s point is this: in whatever spiritual gift you use, use it on behalf of God. Act as if God is really working through you. Exercise your spiritual gifts with confidence that God is working through you. And he is! You are administering, stewarding, dispensing God’s limitless grace.

Psalm 119:81-96. “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction” (Psalm 119:92). When our world begins to crumble, we need something to hold on to. All too often, though, we first run to friends for solace, or we find ways to disengage from our pain or stress. The psalmist, however, discovered that the word of God is a sure anchor. Ointment for our wounds. Food for our starving souls.

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THE WORD MADE FRESH

“If the heat gets too hot,” the adage goes, “then get out of the kitchen.” But what if you can’t get out?

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon built an idol, most likely in his image. Ninety feet tall and nine feet wide, the statue was a monstrosity. Seven times in the first 14 verses of Daniel 3, the writer reiterates that Nebuchadnezzar “set up” the idol. The man was a narcissist.

He issued a command: “Whenever the music plays, everyone must bow down to the idol.” The Babylonian people complied as well as all of the Jews living in exile except three brave men: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Daniel must have been out of town on a business trip.

When the men were brought before the king, they were given one more chance to bow down, but they refused. Think about it: all they had to do was bow down. Their lives were at risk, so what’s the big deal with bowing down just one time? No one would have pointed their judgmental fingers at the three men. Just tell the king what he wanted to hear and do what he wanted them to do and everything would be fine. With their lives on the line, they respectfully replied to the king:

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.
Daniel 3:17–18

Did you notice their last few words? God is able to save us, but even if he doesn’t, we still won’t bow down.

Furious, the king ordered the furnace temperature to be increased. The fire was so hot that the soldiers carrying the three men were consumed by it.

You probably remember the rest of the story. A fourth man appeared in the furnace. The men weren’t consumed by the fire. Fussy King Nebuchadnezzar begged the men to come out, and when they did, they didn’t even smell like smoke.

This story encourages us to be willing to disagree with the court of public opinion when it contradicts or forces us to compromise our faith. Although our physical lives might not be on the line, our jobs and careers might be. We might be able to save our necks, but wilting to societal pressure and opinion is akin to bowing to the image. To put it bluntly, it’s lying.

These three men share a common characteristic with all the great men and women of faith in Scripture: they don’t consider their lives as overly precious. In other words, they aren’t afraid to die because they know they’re in a no-lose situation. They can live here on earth and enjoy the lives God has given them or they will lose their lives and spend eternity with God.

The book of Hebrews describes men and women of this caliber as “aliens and strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13). They know that their home is in heaven.

Paul wrote, “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” (Romans 14:8).

Integrity means living honest, open, and sometimes unpopular lives because we’re more concerned about what God thinks than what people think. It’s also borne from the belief that regardless of what happens to us, if we’re living for Jesus, we’re in a can’t-lose situation.

The early church had a phrase for this: corem deo. It means living in the face of God.

Or in this context, living with the knowledge that the fourth man is there.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. What idols does the culture try to convince you to worship?

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www.bibleconversation.com

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Honest To God

  1. Linda

    Yesterday, I read the following in another devotional from a Mennonite college. It is strangely apropos to today’s message:

    “At some point in the last few years I decided that I would live my life “like an open book.” I became convinced that if I was living for Christ, I should have nothing to hide. (Linda’s note: Talk about corem deo!)

    I quickly realized that this would be a challenging motto to live by. If my life is an open book, I cannot keep secrets. Anything I do, I should feel comfortable doing in the presence of my grandparents or pastor. I believe it is this kind of self-awareness Paul is calling us to when he tells us to “wake up” in Romans 13:11-14.

    He says that we must “put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the deeds of light” because “night is nearly over.” We have been called to a much higher purpose than pleasing our flesh; we are to love like Christ loved. If this is our focus, there is no shame. Our pages should be open for the world to see.

    The convincing element of our story is not that we are able to accomplish perfection on our own, but that Christ’s love gives us power to overcome whatever the world throws our way. We need to wake up! “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ” so that your life may be a living testimony to all who read your story!” http://blog.goshen.edu/devotions/

  2. Thanks for sharing, Linda. What a great devotion.
    Reading your comments the day after Thanksgiving makes me think about the Thanksgiving dinner we shared in Pasadena 15 years ago (was it once or twice?). Thanks for opening your home to us way back then.

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