When Honesty isn’t the Best Policy

As Christians, we know that honesty is important. But is there such a thing as being too honest? Click here to read more!

Once at youth group, our youth pastor showed us a video of a young man standing in the streets of a large city, talking into a megaphone. He was calling the world out on their sins and threatening fire and brimstone to those who did not repent. There was a crowd around him, listening to what he had to say. Some were laughing at him, others were agreeing with him. But then one woman stepped out of the crowd and spoke to him with tears streaming down her face.

“I’m listening to what you’re saying, and it’s breaking my heart,” she tells him. She professes to be a follower of Christ, then shares that she is where she is because someone took the time to get to know her and love her, not because someone told her everything she was doing wrong.

The street minister explained that without knowledge of sin, there cannot be repentance, and that’s why he was doing what he was doing. At the end of the video, our youth pastor asked who we thought was right. And I really wasn’t sure.

On the one hand, Jesus didn’t sugar-coat sin. He called it what it was and demanded full repentance. We need to fully repent before we can accept healing from God and grow in our walk with him. But at the same time, Jesus did not shame everyone who came to him. He formed relationships and loved people right where they were at. He accepted a broken prostitute’s worship and assured a repentant thief of his salvation. So what’s the balance?

We need to stand up for our faith and say what we believe. But how are you doing that? Are you bringing up debates or disagreements with the hopes of bringing people onto your side? I have seen people start debates or arguments with non-believers to try to “witness” to them. But how many people do you know who have actually become a follower of Jesus Christ because they lost a debate?

Hold on. Jesus argued with the Pharisees and told them off and was honest with them! He said all kinds of things about their self-righteous ways.

I agree. Jesus did tell people off. There were many times when he was brutally honest with people who couldn’t get beyond themselves—people who were more concerned with their perfect reputation than the physical and spiritual welfare of others. Jesus had strong words for those who showed no love to those around them because of their own pride.

But to the broken-hearted, Jesus had a very different response. He healed them. He saw to their needs. He loved them. Ultimately, he died for everyone. He sacrificed for others. He did not pull aside the despondent and start a debate on the Law. He responded to debates brought to him with ultimate wisdom, but he also did not waste words with those who refused to listen.

As Christians and representatives of Christ, we are called to show love first. Jesus taught that the greatest commandment is first to love the Lord our God and then to love our neighbours. If someone wants to start a debate with you or ask you a theological question, by all means, engage them in discussion. But when a debate starts to go in circles or is not getting anywhere, you may be wasting your words.

Paul encourages Timothy with the following words:

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. (2 Timothy 2:23 – 25)

We are also called to show love to others. Human beings are relational. We all need relationships and love and belonging. It’s how we were created. We can bridge the gap by extending friendship and giving of ourselves for the good of others. Ultimately, it was not Jesus’ wise words that saved the world, but his unconditional love and sacrifice by giving up his own life.

When talking to others about your faith, remember these words of Paul to the Ephesians:

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)

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Allowing God to Use Us in Our Fear

As Christians, God asks us to step out of our comfort zones for Him. But how do we work through our fear and get to where He wants us? Click here to read about our fear and how God can work through us!

Remember when you were just a kid and you were suddenly inspired to ride your bike without training wheels? It was like you had a burst of courage, ready to step into a new frontier of big-kid-ness.

 

My brother, two years younger than me, had this experience at the age of four. I did not. But if there’s anything about being a big sister, it’s the unwritten rule that you must always be more proficient than your brothers at everything to keep them in their place.

 

Apparently, six-year-olds don’t have a whole lot of pride, and my young reputation was not enough to convince myself to try to ride a bike without training wheels. No way.

 

No, to this day I am not riding a bike with training wheels. In fact, I went on to learn how to drive a golf cart at the age of eleven, a four-wheeler at the age of sixteen (well, sorta…but that’s another story), a car at the age of seventeen and a manual transmission about six months ago. (Next up: boat.)

 

My parents eventually got me on just two wheels by openly shaming me into it (I guess I did have some pride). If my four-year-old brother could ride a bike, I—a big girl of six—surely could.

 

The reason I didn’t want to learn how to ride without training wheels wasn’t because I liked training wheels. They were actually kinda annoying—wobbly and noisy and for babies. But I was too afraid to try riding without training wheels. My dad assured me he would hold the back of the bicycle seat so I wouldn’t fall. “You won’t let go, right Daddy?”

 

“Nope. I’ll hang on the whole way down.”

 

Did I mention we lived in the country and had a 50-mile-long gravel driveway?

 

Well, my dad held onto the back of my bike and away we went. After what felt like two seconds, I looked back and he was standing at the top of the driveway. I was halfway down the driveway. Panic ensued. The result: scraped knees and tears.

 

This story reminds me of how often we resist the Holy Spirit when He tells us to do something. He wants us to move into unfamiliar territory—the kind that will urge us into complete reliance on Him. So often we feel that firm nudge but respond with, “Is that actually You, Lord? ‘Cause that seems like a strange thing to do. It will hurt if I fall. I’d rather feel stable where I am.”

 

The problem with being in a stable area of life is that we start thinking we got this. When you feel in control, you don’t cry out for help.

 

There will be times that God asks us to do things we just flat-out don’t want to do. There have been times that God has asked me to do something and my answer has been no. “No, God, I can’t. I want to make You happy, but I just can’t.”

 

And yet, through tears and heartache, I hear the ever-gentle, “No, you can’t. But I can. I can because I AM.”

 

Folks, He really is enough. And when you really, truly, in your heart of hearts know that He is going to be holding your bicycle seat all the way, you can enjoy the ride. You can focus on how you ride instead of how you’re staying on. And even when it feels like He’s still standing at the top of the driveway, He is really right beside you. Guess what? You might still crash.

 

But if it means being in God’s will and enjoying the life He has set before me, I would rather crash on two wheels than be safe on four.

 

Let me encourage you to say yes to God in something He is asking you to do, big or small. Fully rely on Him. He will show His power to you if you let Him.

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Living Life with Authenticity

Before I start this post, I have something to say of the utmost importance.

If anyone ever tells you that you put too much mayonnaise on your sandwich, don’t be friends with them. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

Being authentic seems to be a popular trend today. But what does it mean to be truly authentic? In a world of impossible expectations and false realities, it can be hard to determine the real from the fake. Click here to learn what living authentically really means.

(Author’s note: I asked my significant other’s younger brother what I should do a post about, and he said that everyone needs to hear that. I promised to oblige him.)

But that’s not what this post is about. (If you’re bored and want to read a brief history of mayonnaise, you can go here.)

I am not an athletic person. In elementary school, I came in last in every single home school track and field meet race I ran (which was way too many, in my opinion). Grade nine gym class was a horrible class which I’m sure I passed because of marks I received for effort. In college, I was playing volleyball with the youth/young adults group from church when my football-and-rugby-playing brother yelled across the court, “Emily, you have the coordination of a jellyfish!” I have always preferred a good book to a game ball.

The problem is, I want to be good at sports. I want to be athletic and strong and fit. And I really want to love running. I just…don’t.

Needless to say, I own five or six pairs of gym shorts, purple running shoes with neon green laces (I love them so much), track pants, yoga pants, leggings, and gym shirts. I own a couple “athletic” hoodies and a large pink-and-grey gym bag that I use as a duffel (I love it also). I can pull off the athlete look pretty well. I like these clothes because they’re comfy, and I am totally a no-fuss, minimal-makeup person when it comes to my wardrobe.

But it sometimes strikes me that when I’m running errands in track pants, runners and a hoodie, I look like an athlete to the average person. I sometimes feel like I’m lying to people about who I am.

But how often do I do that no matter how I’m dressed? How many times do I look like I have it all together, when I really don’t? And how many times do I look at someone else’s Instagram—a place they post their best pictures—and wish I had their life because it’s so perfect?

We need to stop being concerned about how we look and focus on being imitators of Christ. Click To Tweet

Sometimes we are far more concerned about looking good than we are about being imitators of Christ. As Christians, we often get so set on needing to live the proper Christian life that we forget why we’re following Christ in the first place: because we’re broken. I need God’s grace. I need His love. I need His wisdom because I don’t have it all together.

Being genuine doesn’t mean posting no-makeup selfies or using the hashtag #tobehonest. It means not being afraid to admit that we don’t have it all together.

Living authentically is important because it tears down barriers in our relationships. When we are honest with others about our weaknesses, we get to enjoy friendship at a whole new level. You can also encourage others way more when you are being real. Not many people want to be told it’s going to be okay by someone who has never had struggles. Everyone has struggles; it’s just a matter of sharing. When I’m going through something, it is so great to talk to someone who has gone or is going through the same thing. When they share that with me, I am so encouraged. It reminds me of how great God is.

To be a true encouragement to others, you need to live authentically. Click To Tweet

Sharing struggles also glorifies God. When you are dealing with something and relying on God, you can share that with others. You don’t need to have all the answers, but when people see that you aren’t perfect and that you are 100% relying on God to sustain you, that bears witness. It’s saying, “Look, I really don’t know, and I fail in this area all the time. But God’s grace is bigger than me, and He will give me the wisdom and strength I need. He’ll do the same for you.”

Finally, we need to focus on being instead of appearing because that’s how God looks at us. He can see right through us and is not fooled by our appearance in the least bit. (1 Samuel 16:7.) There are so many Bible verses speaking about how God looks at the heart, and you can’t fake that.

Today I want to encourage you to live genuinely. Doing so will bring you closer to others and make you an encouragement to the people around you. God bless!

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