Keeping it real
Do you ever tell that "little white lie" just so you can avoid a conflict with someone? You know what I mean by "little white lie" don't you? That "slight" untruth - not exactly an out and out big whopper of a lie - but that "subtle untruth" which will likely pass the muster and go undiscovered. You don't do it to be malicious, but to preserve their "feelings", avoid a full-on discussion about the issue, or just because you really don't value the relationship anyway. The truth can be hard to speak at times, but let me assure you of this - the truth is the truth and cannot be compromised. Two commands to us today: 1) Speak the truth to each other; and 2) Don't let anger have a place in your relationship. At first these may not seem like they are that big of a deal, because both just seem like "nice concepts". Both are forms of avoidance - they keep us from getting too close to the other person that we might actually have to be "real" with them. Rather than avoiding the truth or burying our anger, it is time we just get real with each other and keep it real.
So you must stop telling lies. “You must always speak the truth to each other,” because we all belong to each other in the same body. “When you are angry, don’t let that anger make you sin,” and don’t stay angry all day. Don’t give the devil a way to defeat you. (Ephesians 4:25-27 ERV)
Why are these two principles so important in the life of the believer? I think it is because of the last sentence - when we don't tell the truth to each other, or we find ourselves burying anger rather than dealing with it in the moment, we give an inroad into our relationship for the devil to do his work. Tell lies to each other long enough and the wall which separates you from the truth will get bigger and bigger until it obliterates the truth completely. Avoid dealing with the things which make you upset and get on your nerves with each other and you will soon begin to just make excuses for why you don't want to be around each other.
Keeping it real is more work than running from conflict, or even telling someone what they may not want to hear once in a while, but in the end, we don't give a place for compromise in our lives. This will do more to strengthen each of us, bringing us closer together, rather than causing us to drift apart, losing the support of that relationship as we go through the pressures and trials of life. When we tell each other lies, those untruths we hope will go undiscovered because we were just trying to "preserve another's feelings", we are actually giving Satan a way to defeat us in relationship. It is like saying, "Here is an open door - step right on in."
How do we keep it real and NOT have relationship conflict, though? Maybe this is the bigger question for us, since most of us struggle with one or both of these issues in our relationships at one time or another. Conflict isn't all that bad - this is the first thing we need to learn. In conflict, we find out how we are "rooted" and where our weak points might exist. If you think of the tree in the yard, it began as a sapling. When that tiny tree was growing into the larger tree you have now, you would have noticed it having to stand up against the winds of the storms it faced. In those winds, it bent low, had the branches thrown to and fro. The storm actually sent those roots a little deeper, giving the tree the ability to withstand the next storm's mighty force.
A little conflict may not be a bad thing - in fact, it causes us to examine our motives, see ourselves from the other person's perspective, and even give us a chance to admit we are wrong. Therein is where we probably find the "rub" in this matter of "keeping it real". In the end, we end up exposing a little bit of ourselves we probably would have rather kept hidden, but if we cannot do this in the faithfulness of close relationship, I don't know where will ever do it! Conflict is real and lies hurt. Anger repressed leads to resentment and bitterness - driving wedges in between people quicker than anything else. If we want to guard against these relationship-killers, we have to begin to make a conscious effort to live in the moment, choosing to take the time and "risk" of being real with each other. In the end, we both grow stronger and the enemy of our souls isn't given an inroad into our relationships. Just sayin!