No Lies – Identity and the Ninth Commandment

You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. – Exodus 20:16 Throughout the Bible, God has been fighting for our identity. Beginning in the garden, to the nation Israel, and now in Christ, God’s desire has been for us – the jewel in the crown of his creation – to see our selves as his people. How we define our self matters. It is our identity. Hence our worth, our significance, our value, our purpose, should all be questions that are answered by being his. This is made clear with the first commandment. After the first, the commandments are not simply a list of do’s and don’ts, but rather a list of symptoms of the identity that is misplaced. Sin that results when we seek wholeness apart from God. Giving false testimony is a strategy basic to the false self – the self defined apart from Christ. A false testimony is saying that something is true about someone when it is not. This can take the form of slander or flattery. Or, the false testimony can be denying something is true that is. It is an effort to tear down another. Thus, by comparison, the one giving the testimony is elevated. Our life’s values are determined by what is good for our identity. Thus, giving false testimony is deemed acceptable because it benefits the one who lies. The cost to you is a price the one giving false testimony is willing to let you pay. Notice that? The cost is not paid by the liar. What comes out of our mouth indicates where our heart, the seat of identity, rests. See Jesus words on...

All About That Bass

I’ll admit it, I like the Meghan Trainor song All About That Bass. It is on my iPhone. It’s catchy and I can sing and dance to it (thought that is something none of you will ever see – you can thank me when you see me). Also, I do appreciate the message of the damaging affects of comparison. (See What Comparison Does) Comparison erodes our sense of who we are and deprives us all of dignity. Those around us are deprived of their humanity by our using them as a measuring stick for our worth and significance. Our self is eroded because comparison causes us to live in a constant state of dissatisfaction. When we live in comparison, we can not develop healthy self-acceptance. (See What is Acceptance?) Church leaders compare the size of their churches to those around them, or to the mega-church that they’d like to be. Church leaders compare their leadership style to that of others, and end up trying to be something they are not. Church leaders compare their spouses to the Proverbs 31 or some other ideal, and the spouse feels the weight of that expectation. There is always something else to compare. But, here is the thing about the song’s message… Every inch of me is NOT perfect, from the bottom to the top. Many of us eat for comfort. That is not perfect. Many of us seek to control others. That is not perfect. Many of us make decisions at the expense of others. That is not perfect. Our tendency to compare is a symptom of the false self (the old nature)...

What Comparison Does

Not too long ago, I had the pleasure of getting to know one of my volunteer leaders. She was telling me of the hobby of water color painting that she had taken up in the last couple years. As she talked about her art and how she gave her work to special people as a gift of herself, her face lit up with pure enjoyment. It was special to watch. Within our conversation, I asked her about the learning process. Among the first things she mentioned was the frustration she would feel having completed a project. Her flowers never looked the way they should. Her scenes did not turn out right. It took the repeated, trusted advise of her teacher to come to realize that she saw things, and painted things, differently. And that was OK. Comparison destroys freedom. In art, the freedom comparison destroys is creativity. In the spiritual life, comparison destroys the freedom to become who God intends for you to be. To run the race set before you. One of the ways the Bible refers to comparison is to covet. Coveting usurps our freedom. When we covet, we become slaves to what we do not have. That new car. Free time. A different body. More kids. A spouse. Popularity. A larger church or ministry. Vacation. We miss the work that God is doing in our lives, the path He has us on, because we are too busy comparing ourselves with others. Elsewhere in the Bible comparison is seen as judging. Humorously illustrated by the person who tries to take a sliver of wood out of someone’s eye...

Gain Perspective. Live Well.

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