I've noticed an interesting behavior lately with myself and people in general. I sometimes find myself or hear others apologizing for telling the truth. As if we are sorry for having to share the truth or in my case, I actually feel guilty for stating what is real or accurate.
In some cases, the truth is a financial reality, like the size of a bill that is overdue or the amount owed to the IRS. Other times, we're called to give an honest account of an experience, like telling a waiter our food was bad or the restaurant manager our service was bad. As difficult as those situations are, I think there are more dreadful things to admit or share.
Failed friendships and betrayals are not just for good TV but realities. Marriages can be unhappy or painful. Kids are sometimes disrespectful or rebellious. Jobs end - sometimes because of our own failures. And there are darker realities like addictions, abuse and mental anguish. When confronted by a loving, honest friend or family member about one of these topics, I find myself stammering or glossing over what's real. And not necessarily because I'm trying to make myself look better, although pride is sometimes at play, but because I simply feel bad or have guilt over giving a bad report.
Almost everyone knows what Jesus says about this topic...John 8:32 says, "the truth shall set you free." For some that's a pithy, trite statement but there's something to letting go of what burdens our heart. We are to share in one another's sorrow and grieve with those who grieve. Healing and growth come from laying our burdens down before a friend and more importantly before the Lord.
I don't believe we are meant to tell everyone every detail of our lives or air our dirty laundry. Unfortunately in the age of the Internet and social media the new saying could be, "If you don't have anything nice to say be sure to make it your next Facebook status or write a bad Yelp review." But I do believe when asked directly we can answer honestly and not carry shame with us. Upon doing a word study and looking the context of truth throughout God's word, I stumbled upon Psalm 15 which says:
O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart;
who does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbor,
nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
but who honors those who fear the Lord;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
who does not put out his money at interest
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.
I keep looking at this over and over as I've never read this passage before. What I take away from this is that we don't get to have fellowship with the Lord until we are walking in truth. Fellowship with the Lord always brings us peace and never brings condemnation. David is asking God, "What do I need to do so I can be close to You, and what does it look like?" It does not mean self righteous gossip about the neighbor or advertising personal problems to everyone who will listen- but it does mean it's ok to acknowledge wrong-doing or choosing a better path for ourselves and being honest with others about our choices. And as long as we are seeking God's will and pursuing love, it's ok to share our hearts with safe people.
Jesus healed so many people in His ministry. Almost every time a person was healed they stated their problem to Jesus directly or a friend or family member brought the person before Him and stated the truth about their illness. Jesus, being God knows all...but in order for us to heal and find peace, He needs us to acknowledge the hurts, the sin problem, the addiction, the failing marriage or the wayward child. I'm still learning what this means for myself and what it feels like to speak boldly and stand up straight with the confidence of Christ.