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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

One Day

Dishonesty. Sure, it's wrong. Certainly most people would love to deny that they occasionally lie. But the more I observe, the more convinced I am that deceit is a thread running through the very fabric of humanity.

You don't have to look very far to find proof. Ask around. Check the weight listed on people's driver's licenses. Then weigh them. Watch how many little piano students simply nod when asked "did you practice this week?" Then talk to their parents. Ask the reporter how many attended the political rally last night. Then ask a reporter with an opposing worldview. Most assuredly, you'll get widely different answers.

But why am I looking so far from home? I don't have to look past myself to find evidence of deceit. Why on earth do I occasionally make references to "going running", when if I were more candid, I would admit it's more of a "run/walk." Uh, scratch that, and call it a "walk/run". Scratch that one more time, because in all honesty, it's really a "run-until-I-can't-stand-it-anymore-(which-is-about-30-seconds)-and-then-walk-until-I-recover." Why don't I just say I'm taking a walk? If people want more details, I can inform them I jog intermittently throughout. But calling it a run is stretching it a bit too far.

Stretching. Even that word is telling. We hesitate to use the words "lie" or "deceive", preferring instead "stretch the truth" or "exaggerate." Why do we do this? What is the root? Certainly pride is a heart of the matter, and sometimes fear. But I must admit, there have been times people have told me things that weren't true, and there was no obvious gain. I've done the same thing. So why? All I can come up with is that deceitfulness is buried deep within the heart of man (ok, woman, too), a never-forgotten ingredient in the recipe of humankind. It's human nature. It's sinful nature.

No, you might say, I'm not a deceitful person. It's simply not in my nature. Uh, check again, my friend. "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?" Remember what Jesus said? "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." So if you lie (or exaggerate or stretch the truth, call it what you will) even one time... it's comin' from your heart, baby! No way around it!

So do we sit back and accept it? Alright, I've got this marvelous (catch the sarcasm here) nature, and apparently my heart is bent on evil. Oh well, guess that's the way it is! May I borrow a phrase from Paul? "By no means!" We may have been born into it, and we may carry the effects of it through life to the grave, but we know that ultimately we are delivered from it. That's why Paul talks about us (and the rest of God's creation) groaning as we long to throw off the flesh we now have and take hold of the life that is truly life - free from the sinful bent we inherited at birth.

I guess dishonesty just served as my launchpad for a bigger topic here. The truth is I feel my flesh like a weight. I don't want to be inclined to lie, and yet I am. I don't want a sinful attitude to leap into my heart towards a person who wrongs me, yet it does. I don't want to ever have to take back words I shouldn't have spoken, yet I do. I am housed in a temporary dwelling - this flesh, and I long for it to be swallowed up and forever lost in eternal life.

I know as long as I breathe, I will have this struggle. But I persevere, for I know that perseverance produces character, and character, hope. "And hope does not disappoint us..." I know I will receive the fullness of God's salvation and life, and I struggle on toward that end. For one day I will shake off this mortal flesh and be clothed with a heavenly dwelling, and the earthly battles will all have been worth it. I live for that day.