Years ago, I was a church summer camp counselor, and I was terrible at it. I just really struggle with disciplining other people’s children. I’m fine correcting my own but completely wilt at the idea of a young person being mad at me or not liking me. As a result, the boys in my cabin ran all over me. I excelled at being a camp director but being a counselor is simply not my gift. Why?

Well, being the responsible adult in the room means one cannot always say, “Yes.” Sometimes the right answer is, “No.” But teens don’t like to hear, “No.” Herein lies the rub. When you think about it, we are all kind of like God’s teenagers. We don’t like to hear when God clearly says, “Thou shalt not…(fill in the blank),” either. That matters not to Him. When He said, “Thou shalt not,” however many thousands of years ago, He still means it today. Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind.” And God tells it like it is. Even when it’s hard.

Remember when Jesus met the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well outside of Sychar? He is telling her about living water and she is very interested. “‘Please, sir,’ the woman said, ‘give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.’ ‘Go and get your husband,’ Jesus told her. ‘I don’t have a husband,’ the woman replied.’ Jesus said [and here comes the truth bomb], ‘You’re right! You don’t have a husband for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth’” (John 4:15-18). Ouch! That’s uncomfortable. But it was true, and God speaks the truth. At all times. In all cases.

It’s hard to always be completely honest all the time. I understand. Have you ever had to tell someone something really difficult? Like breaking up with a boyfriend/girlfriend. Maybe you’ve had to tell an elderly parent or grandparent they need to surrender the keys to their car because you love them, and you want them to be safe. I remember having to share with my beloved Maine congregation that I was leaving to come to South Church. It was brutal! Standing in the pulpit telling people I loved dearly that I was abandoning them. That’s what it felt like. It still haunts me. The truth was, however, God was calling me to Connecticut.

How about when someone believes they will get into heaven by following Buddha, Joseph Smith, or by doing good deeds? What about someone who is choosing to live a sinful lifestyle – like the previously mentioned Samaritan woman? Will we remain silent? Even knowing full well anyone who dies in sin is lost for eternity? Yeah. It is hard to always be truthful.

The apostle Peter reminds us that we should always be ready to speak the truth in love. “…your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way” (1 Peter 3:15-16).

We never want to offend or anger anyone. At the same time, we cannot remain silent. It’s too important. So, we don’t say, “Yes, honey, that dress makes you look fat.” We say, “It is a pretty dress, but you have other dresses that flatter you much more.” Gentle. Respectful. With love. It will not always be well received but we must speak the truth. The whole truth. And nothing but the truth, the way and the life that is Jesus Christ.


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