Blessing in life is a matter of choice. Choice is a matter of considering our options and then selecting the one which comes the closest to what we hoped to accomplish or obtain. Sometimes the thing we "settle on" as a matter of choice is not the "exact" thing we hoped for, but it is close enough to meet our expectations. Our action or behavior determines the course of our lives - this course goes a long way in determining the blessing or curse we experience in the journey. It is important to remember that every wrong choice comes with a way of escape - either before we make the choice, or once we realize we are traveling down the wrong path, we turn around. The point at which we experience the "escape" is important - most of us would rather not make the wrong choices and suffer even one-tenth of the consequences of those choices. We'd like to consistently make the best choices - experiencing the full one-hundred percent blessing!
The integrity of the honest keeps them on track; the deviousness of crooks brings them to ruin... Moral character makes for smooth traveling; an evil life is a hard life. Good character is the best insurance; crooks get trapped in their sinful lust... A good person is saved from much trouble; a bad person runs straight into it.
(Proverbs 11:3, 5-6, 8 MSG)
Honesty and humility are two choices we shall consider this morning. Both are very specific choices, for neither allows for much "liberality" in our definition. We either are honest or we are not. We either exhibit true humility or we do not. There isn't much middle ground with these two choices, for anything less than 100% honesty is a lie and something less than pure humility is a farce.
- Honesty in relationships seems to be one of the things God puts a lot of emphasis on in scripture. It begins with honesty with him, but it carries into all the other relationships we experience in life. Honesty is not only a choice in relationship with others, but it is also a choice in evaluating ourselves. God's character demands honesty because it is how he operates - openly, above board, and with integrity. Two things God expects of us in relationship: be straight-forward with each other, and be truthfully fair. God leads by example here - telling us like it is, and not showing partiality to any man.
Let me speak about dishonesty a little for a moment. Dishonesty in relationship actually is a breeding ground for all kinds of issues, but probably one of the most damaging is this idea of creating "false hopes". When we are dishonest with others, we actually build upon a basis of "false hopes" - almost creating an atmosphere where one or the other will someday find their hopes totally unfounded. Whenever we cannot be "above board" in our relationships, we find the things which don't get shared are probably a little more important the things which do get shared. Dishonesty is often revealed in NOT being truthful - not so much in what is said, but in what is left unsaid.
God is looking for us to be "real" people. He wants our lives to be based in "reality" - not in some trumped up hope in the by-and-by which never comes to fruition. "Reality" involves being "reputable" - able to be counted on, always consistent in our dealings. Honesty breeds assurances - because we know where we stand and what we struggle with. This makes a man or woman credible - trustworthy. In turn, this makes a person respectable - there is something within their character which points to these attributes we find give a solid foundation within relationship.
- Humility is a life choice in all relationships and is essential in evaluating direction and outcome in life. First, God expects for us to defer to his plans for our lives and not be so doggone independent in our choices. He asks this for a reason - because we don't do such a good job staying within the boundaries of safety within our lives. Boundaries kind of threaten an "independent" spirit. For the one who has placed their trust in the faithfulness of God, boundaries are less of a threat because we trust in the one who sets them for us. Humble individuals realize the "independence" of free choice is not always the safest way to make choices!
As we look at humility, we must examine the opposite - arrogance. There is just no room for arrogance in our relationships - it damages them, pushes others away, and it keeps us from being totally honest with others and our selves. If you have ever struggled with even a smidgen of pride in your life, you know how much this pushes a wedge between you and others. Pride is more than feeling good about an accomplishment - it is the demand of our inner nature to get noticed for the accomplishment, thought about a little more highly than others, etc. Arrogance always puts the focus on how the situation impacts self, not the other guy.
Maybe this is why God warns us so frequently about the dangers of pride. In the most literal sense, arrogance puts us at a disadvantage for maintaining relationship because it is rather over-bearing. Pride has a way of catching people up in its path - but sometimes it always has a way of dashing them as quickly to the ground. Why? Pride goes before a fall - isn't this what scripture teaches. Get all caught up in arrogant behavior in any relationship and that relationship is headed for a little turbulence.
Honest dealings, consistently deferring to God's plans, and openly displaying the grace and love of Jesus in your lives is a much safer foundation upon which we build, is it not? At best, all other choices only yield temporary gains. The "permanent" gains in life are because we have dealt honestly and we live humbly. Trust in any other plan than God's will result in a rocky path, easy stumbling, and a lot of bunged up knees! The righteous can escape the falls because God is there not just to remove the obstacles from the path, but to catch us when we begin to stumble. As I mentioned earlier, escape comes at various points in our walk - sometimes at the very beginning before we make the first misstep, other times just short of a full fall. Just sayin!