Honesty before God is critical to intimacy with Him. The truth that sets us free lies living the brutal reality of the cross with an omniscient, loving God.
You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. (Psalm 139:2-4)
Satellite images fascinate me because they provide a tiny glimpse of God’s perspective. Of course, anything that comes from man is incomplete and cannot even begin to compare. But when we look at one of these ‘from up there’ images we start to understand a little of the omniscience – the all-knowingness – of God. In our day to day lives, where we’re confined and restricted by time and space, we easily lose sight of the absolute truth that God sees all and knows all. Unlike us, who may simply see an overview without real detail when we look at a satellite image, God sees everything – right down to the very hair on our heads. This is the context in which we, as believers, should view honesty.
God’s omniscience and honesty.
Everything in our lives once we are born again starts and ends with God. He is the source and centre of life. If we’re going to willingly take hold of the ‘good stuff’ like mercy and grace and forgiveness, we must take hold of the other ‘uncomfortable’ truths as well. Top of this is list is His omniscience. This is a difficult one which we often avoid because it challenges our instinctive need for self-preservation. Our whole lives are a kind of conditioning process which teaches us to withhold rather than reveal. We put out there only those things that will build us up or make us look good. We hide those things we thing will show us in a negative light, and we never, ever reveal our weaknesses. God’s omniscience, however, forces absolute honesty.
The real and disconcerting truth is that God sees and knows everything about us – who we are and why, what we do, say, think, and feel. We can hide nothing from Him. In a sense, we can say that God’s omniscient knowledge is complete honesty – it misses nothing and sees everything as it truly is. It’s a brutal kind of honesty, because it leaves no room for evasion or excuses. We can fool the world, our family, our friends, and even our church, to a certain extent. But we can never, ever fool God. The uncompromising honesty in God makes us avoid the truth of His omniscience, or at the very least, accept only the part of it that makes us feel good. But if we want to claim the blessing of ‘He knows our problems and sufferings’ we have to also claim that He knows our weaknesses and sins.
Honesty in the world.
I’m reasonably certain that we’ll all agree that honesty is a very scarce commodity in the world. In fact, we accept that everyone in our network will lie to us. That’s the basis of many relationships, whether they be business or personal. We question every interaction, and trust only that which we know we can absolutely trust. Even then, we’re on the lookout for the tell-tale signs of dishonesty or lies. How many times, when a loved one encourages us, to we think or say out loud: ‘You’re just saying that…’ It’s a tragic reality, one we live with every day and have come to accept. The irony is that while we resent it, we perpetuate it though our own kind of dishonesty.
Counsellors the world over put the issue of honesty at the top of the list. To heal from abuse, we must be honest about it. To heal relationships, there has to truth and transparency. Yet suspicion invades every interaction and we consciously or unconsciously choose to withhold ourselves from others. At the same time, however, we resent and distrust them for doing the same. Honesty is the very basis of trust, but the world has taught us never to trust anyone or, if we do, only to a limited degree. It’s an undisputed fact that others can and do use what we have shared against us. People constantly seek out the weaknesses of others in order to further their own agendas. It’s a lesson so ingrained in us that only God can undo it.
Intimacy with God and honesty.
Many believers struggle to live in real intimacy with God. The reason is this issue of honesty and God’s omniscience. Our instinctive need for self-preservation, worked into us so powerfully from childhood, gets in the way. Thankfully, our God is indeed one of love and mercy and grace – and infinite patience. He will woo us gently and gradually draw us in, removing the layers of pretence create distance and separation with tender care. Of course, we often go kicking and screaming and hanging onto our masks. It’s hard and it’s painful to see ourselves as God sees us. We don’t want to have to face our weaknesses and limitations. It’s so much easier to have a surface relationship that excludes intimacy.
But within us, we hunger for the oneness God has promised. We long for a pure, holy honesty that transcends self and the world, a place where pretence is stripped away and we simply are. It’s a conflict that will gnaw away inside if we let it. Even worse, lack of or limited intimacy with God means slow growth and limited blessings. If we close ourselves off from God in any area in our lives, we forbid Him to work there. God will never ride in roughshod and simply force us into compliance. He gave us free will for a reason. We have to choose to be intimate, and that means choosing honesty.
The brutal honesty of the cross.
I know how painful the journey to honesty before God really is. My life taught me to live in a cage of my own making. I separated myself from everyone, trusted no one, and created a persona the world could see which had very little resemblance to the real me. It started as self-protection, but it ended as self-denial. My freedom came when I looked fully at the brutal honesty of the cross. It was only when I saw myself there – there reason the Son of God was humiliated, beaten, tortured, and murdered – that I found courage to break free into intimacy. As Christians, we have to live with the cross at the epicentre of our lives.
When we see ourselves as God sees us, we can no longer pretend. Looking at ourselves in the cross doesn’t bring condemnation. It brings grace and forgiveness. Unless we’re utterly honest we cannot be forgiven. Grace enables this to be a process rather than a shattering, destructive encounter. When we keep the cross always before us, He releases honesty by degrees. We love to quote the verse that says He will never give us more than we can handle, but it applies to truth as well. If we’re willing to be honest in our relationship with Him, He will graciously release only what we can handle and empower us to deal with it. But it starts with accepting that He is omniscient.
Honesty is accepting what God already knows.
The omniscience of God isn’t some vague spiritual doctrine. It’s a very real and powerful truth. Human beings are very complex – and often very foolish – creatures. Why, if God already knows all, do we go to so much trouble to hide things? We all long for truth. I hear it all the time. We claim we just want people to be honest. Yet we cloak ourselves even before a God who knows all – every detail – and loves us despite all. It’s no doubt the result of our conditioning to present only our ‘good side.’ But the real truth is that God doesn’t want our good side because it’s worth nothing. All our righteousness is as filthy rags. God wants us – the us He created, not the us the world created. It’s a journey. I cannot pretend, even now, that I am always completely honest with God.
Self comes through in every situation and circumstance. The old self-preserving me rises up when I least expect it, and I’m caught out in dealings with God and man. But I have learned to question. I may sometimes be slow to do it, and often need to repent and even apologise. Right now, I’m going through a time of intense trial with someone I love, and just this morning, I had to repent for my resentment at not having all the answers. My God graciously showed me that my desire was that I could help them rather than that He would help them. That lack of honesty was getting in the way. Thankfully, He is teaching me to accept what He already knows. That acceptance empowers us to draw near in relief rather than resentment. When we no longer have to pretend, there is no longer condemnation.
Honesty is the truth that sets us free.
We often declare that Jesus is ‘the way, the truth, and the light.’ But how often do we look at the ‘truth’ in the context of God’s omniscient honesty? The Bible tells us that He is not a man that He should lie, which is a firm foundation for our faith. But it extends to all our dealings with God, not just those we feel comfortable with. Entering into a relationship of absolute honesty with God is liberating beyond imagining. This is when promises like His strength is made perfect in our weakness come to full manifestation. It’s the place where the ‘greater is He that is within me’ can really work in power and supernatural provision. Without absolute honesty – the brutal honesty of the cross – we limit the work of the limitless I AM.
Father, forgive us. We acknowledge, today, that there are things we have kept hidden from ourselves, the world, and from You. We know the world is transitory, and that we should beware of what we share with others, but we confess that we often bring this same attitude into our relationship with You. Grant us the grace and courage to come ‘just as we are’ which means in complete honesty. Help us to move past our conditioning and to live in the brutal honesty of the cross. Thank You, Lord, that You already know every small detail and that we do not have to pretend, and that we can truly live in the power of the truth that sets us free.