Truth sets us free

Pencil Preaching for Friday, October 16, 2020

“There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed” (Luke 12:2).

Eph 1:11-14; Luke 12:1-7

There is nothing more damaging to human community than deception. If people cannot trust each other, all communication, every legal contract or personal promise falls apart. Suspicion ruins friendships, handshakes and verbal assurances are worthless and even the political order can be disrupted. There is a saying: “A lie can circle the world before truth puts its shoes on.” Big lies have led to wars and redefined normalcy until beaten back. Lying was so serious in ancient Israel, it was one of the Ten Commandments: “Thou shall not bear false witness.”

When Jesus warned his disciples to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees,” he was describing a pervasive, invisible dishonesty masked by obsequious or pious language full of misdirection. The scribes and Pharisees were insincere and dishonest, and Jesus knew they were weaving a net of accusation around him to try and smear his credibility and get the Temple priests and the Romans to silence him.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus promises that the truth will always prevail. Liars and cheaters will be exposed, secrets will come out, decisions behind closed doors will be revealed and what is said or done in the dark will be known in the light.  So, he said, don’t be afraid of liars and those who bear false witness in court or engage in whispering campaigns from the shadows.  Jesus was speaking to both his disciples and to future believers who will be dragged before tribunals, persecuted and even killed for their faith in him.

But Jesus also warned his disciples that if they let themselves be seduced into colluding with liars out of fear or for some benefit, they will share their fate.  Smooth talkers and blackmailers can take you to hell with them. Truth is dangerous and innocence may make us vulnerable, but it is really the best defense. God, who sees the truth, will protect those who tell the truth, even as God watches over sparrows and has counted every hair on our heads. 

These are extravagant promises in a world filled with deceit and seduction, where masters of persuasion and compromise know how to sell us a phony product or convince us to tell a harmless lie to escape trouble or to get ahead. As the adage says, “Everyone has their price,” and some will sell their souls if the price is right. Yet, Jesus warns that nothing is worth more than our integrity and honesty, so don’t be deceived and don’t be afraid.  

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