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Just Be Honest

by Chris Plekenpol

In our culture and probably many others, lying is an art form. I’ve told many a grandparent or relative that I loved something they gave me for Christmas, while wondering what decade the sweater had been warped from. Even wrote thank you cards for it. I have lied about how well someone sang, spoke, or played. I have lied about how good or bad something tasted and even asked for another helping when I was in a foreign country and didn’t know how to say no.

We all do it. We all have been polite. We have all smiled and nodded when socially awkward person couldn’t stop talking. We know there is a difference between being socially acceptable and diligently misleading, don’t we?

But I wonder if we take our social acceptance over the line? From our exaggerated jokes to our sarcastic banter, someone not socially adept wouldn’t stand a chance to join our squabble. Perhaps, we like it that way. I think we like being intentionally vague. That way when someone finally does take offense to our careless words, we can claim ignorance or we were “just joking.” Or maybe we have played the game for so long that confronting a friend is something left to professional interventionalists. Perhaps, I’m hitting a little close to home.

Our words have power. What we say, don’t say, agree with and confront all say something about our character.

The Bible shares with us a couple insights into how our words can be received.

Proverbs 26:18-19 says, “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘I am only joking!”

Another favorite, Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”

It seems that being polite and socialable at times leaves us wanting in relationships. When we are sarcastic and jabbing, we incur the wrath and disdain of those whom we care for the most. When we squander opportunities to confront a friend, we reveal our loyalties are in another camp.

You want honesty. You want someone to love you in spite of your failures without the sarcastic jab. In fact, if you’re honest, you might even say, “No one really knows me.” You need the God’s honest truth. You don’t need more kisses from the enemy.

Imagine what our world would look like if we were honest with one another perhaps not about Grandma’s rhubarb pie. Imagine a world where poking fun at your weaknesses and laughing about them in front of you or behind your back were replaced with a confrontation that started with an awkward, “I don’t really know how to say this, but…” Imagine the relationships we would still have if we hadn’t been so insecure and were able to be kind. Imagine how real our friendships would become and we could unmask ourselves and for the first time, and just be honest.

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