Bread – Apparent

October 25, 2017


Psalm 88

Is Your steadfast love declared in the grave…Are Your wonders known in the darkness, or Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?”  Ps. 88:11-12

The Psalmist finds himself in deep trouble and God apparently does not feel to him to be present in the psalmist’s dark days.

So the questions being asked by the Psalmist in the quoted passage may well be a type of argument or urging to God, suggesting that because, once a person dies God’s grace is no longer available, when a person sits in darkness God’s wonders are far away, or once a person forgets God then God’s righteousness disappears to them, He should always endeavor to bring us from our darkness into light so that we can see His steadfast love, His wonders, and His righteousness.  Otherwise would argue the Psalmist, perhaps, then God’s steadfast love, wonders, and righteousness will never be revealed.

And, indeed, much of the Bible talks about bringing man from darkness into light, shining light in dark places, and so forth, as if God is absent in the dark and that, as long as we are in the dark, we cannot know God.

Which really raises the question of “when is God apparent to us?”  On first blush, we know the answer to the question?  He is apparent in nature, in His Word written, and in His Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.  He is apparent in order.  He is apparent in the light.  When we can see His miracles, experience His basking love, sit under His shelter, and engage in strong, good fellowship, God is apparent to us.

So the Psalmist would say, perhaps, that God is not apparent in the dark.  While we are in the valley of despair, the Psalmist would say that God’s steadfast love is not seen, His wonders are not observed, and His righteousness is merely a theory.

Is the Psalmist right in his implication?  I would suggest that he is not.

Western society has been criticized to some extent, perhaps justifiably, by relying on the senses, the observable, rather than the spirit, the unobservable.  If we can’t see, hear, touch, feel, taste, or smell it, to our Western minds it does not exist.  We can see Jesus on the cross; we can see Him dies; we can hear His agony; we can see the empty tomb (all of which is in the light) – and therefore it is real.

So, in the dark, when our senses are cut off, when we cannot taste, see, hear, smell, or touch, to us God may well not be apparent.  It takes eyes to see His wonders, touch to sense His steadfast love, and hearing to know His righteousness – doesn’t it?

Well, other cultures know that there is another “sense” by which we can operate.  I hesitate to call it “spirit” but prefer to describe it as a knowing which occurs in our heart, not because of our sense or knowledge, but because of our faith.

How does this knowing occur?

I will answer this question this way – “even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us live together with Christ – by grace you have been saved…”  Eph. 2:5  While we were in the grave, God’s steadfast love toward us became apparent to us and in our heart, we knew Him.

We may be in the dark, in sickness, despair, worry, depression, loss, and grief a long, long time, just like the Psalmist.  It may be that, while we sit there, God has shown us no way out and, to our senses, He is missing.  But He is apparent, even in the darkness, if we have a heart of faith.  In the darkness His steadfast love is apparent, His wonders are apparent, and His righteousness are apparent – if we have a heart of faith.

How do we obtain this heart of faith?  First, it is not obtained but given.  Second, we can begin this way – “Come Holy Spirit and, today, renew a right spirit within me.”  The spirit of faith.  Even in the dark.

_______

© 2017 GBF

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Bread – Judging

September 13, 2017


Psalm 82

How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked?  Selah”  Ps. 82:2

I have heard it said that, as Christians, we should not “judge” others.  Although this statement is a mistake when it comes to Christians “judging” other Christians (see 1 Cor. 5:12), it is also likely incorrect when applied to everyone because, although maybe we should not judge others before we first judge ourselves, the fact is that we do.  And that is not necessarily bad.

The problem is that the word “judging” has been equated to the word “condemning.”  Judging is not condemning; it is assessing what is being done or said by someone against a standard.  If the standard is a statute, then the judging occurs against the standard of the law.  If the standard is God’s revelation in His Word, then the judging occurs against the standard contained in His Word.

When the standard against which we measure is external to us, we can assess or judge objectively.  Did the objective behavior being judged meet the external standard or did it not?

When the standard against which we measure is internal to us (meaning that it is based on our personal sense of right and wrong, good and evil, etc.), we can only assess or judge subjectively.

The fact that we routinely judge (evaluate, assess) is the reason our insistence upon external standards (God’s Word or the “rule of law”) is so important.  If the standard is “relative to what I think” and the only standard that matters is the one I set internally, all judging will be condemning because, subjectively, “you” will never live up to whatever arbitrary standard I set in my own mind.

This “subjective” judging based on our relativistic “truth” is where we always go wrong.  Why do we judge unjustly?  Because we do not have an external standard (God’s Word) to which we relate.

Where does racism come from?  From our subjective standards that some people are better than others.  What God’s standards have to say about that is that all people were created by God.  That being the case, they are equal.

If we are judging unfairly, the answer is not to stop judging at all.  The answer is to judge according to the right criteria.

What is the right criteria?  The Word of God in Scripture and Jesus Christ.

Judge that.

________

© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

Bread – When

March 15, 2017


Psalm 56

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.  What can flesh do to me?”  Ps. 56:3-4

This verse is preceded by David complaining that man steps on him and attacks him all the time.

Which then leads to the “when I am afraid…” verse.

My first reaction to this (and the reason Bread is called “When”) was this — isn’t it true that we never trust God in the good times, but only the desperate?  Men were trampling David and beating him up, and he was OK doing battle with them on his own.  But when the odds became overwhelming to him, when he became afraid, that is when he trusted God.  “When I am afraid …” could mean that I trust God when I am afraid, suggesting that I do not trust Him when I am not afraid.  This led me to an easy conclusion for this Bread, namely that we should trust God all the time.

However, when I started thinking about being afraid, being truly afraid, I asked myself what the typical human reaction is.  That reaction is either “fight or flight,” according to the psychologists.  When we are afraid, our natural reaction, our womanly or manly reaction, is to either run away and escape (flight) or become incredibly angry and somewhat crazy and fight (fight).  When we are afraid of losing an argument, we double down (fight) or admit defeat (flight).  When we are in a hostile zone where people do not like us or may be even trying to hurt us, we try to hurt them first (fight – the best defense is a good offense, right?) or we exit stage left (flight).

But God tells us that there is a third thing we can do.  Rather than exit the difficulty (flight) or put on our boxing gloves (fight), we can trust God.

How can Christians love their enemies when their enemies hate them?  By trusting in God and neither leaving the fight (flight) nor adding flames to it (fight).

How can Christians both speak the truth in love and not back down in the face of opposition, all without increasing hatred and anger?  By trusting in God and neither backing down in the name of tolerance (flight) or engaging in a knockdown, drag out fight over who is right and who is wrong (fight).

How do Christians stand in the evil day?  By trusting in God and neither retiring to their sanctuaries (homes or churches, flight) nor heaping curses upon those who do not believe (fight).

When put in this perspective, the simple statement that David makes when he says “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You” is not so simple after all.

We will be in danger and will be afraid many times today.  We may have to talk to the stranger in the elevator.  We may have to explain to a disbelieving colleague why we are a Christian.  We may be in economic circumstances which cause us to wonder whether we will eat tonight or make the rent tomorrow.  We may have just received a bad diagnosis from a doctor.  We may be in the middle of losing an argument or some other kind of fight which we believe in our heart we must win.

What will we do?  Will we run away from the fight?  Will we jump in the middle of the fight with our weapons of words, fists, or other devices?  Or will we reject man’s solutions of fight or flight and, instead, put on the full armor of God and trust in Him?

When do we trust in Him?  When will we?

________

© 2017 GBF  All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

Bread – Words

February 13, 2017


Psalm 52

Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man?  … Your tongue plots destruction… You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking what is right.  You love words that devour, O deceitful tongue.”  Ps. 52:1-4

I have had the honor from time to time of offering an invocation at a “secular” event.  Every time, I pray that the language we use during the event is language which will build up and not tear down, which will clarify and not confuse, and which will be positive and not negative.  I also ask that the language we use bring glory to God.

Why do I do this?  It is to remind me, primarily, that what I say and how I say it, the words I use, have great impact to either good or evil.

We have been given a tongue to use to communicate and a comprehensible language to communicate in.  With that tongue, we can speak truth or lies, encouragement or discouragement, positive or negative, hope or despair, patience or anger, forward leaning or backward reaching, love or hatred.  We can pick whether we raise up the people we are speaking with or whether we put them down, all in the choice of words we use.

The simplest example of this is how I have heard described optimistic or pessimistic people.  I have heard that optimistic people will say that the glass of water is “half full” whereas pessimistic people will say that it is “half empty.”  Both statements are true.   The first is positive, the second is negative.

In making this statement, we act like somehow the words we us are not our choice, that somehow the words we use arise purely from our psychology, from how “we are made.”

When we say we cannot help what we say or how we say it because that is merely a reflection of who we are, we abandon hope.  This is simply because we are born in sin and, if we remain in sin and if we can only use the words which reflect who we are, then there is no hope for “good speech.”

But as Christians we know that we are no longer who we were before Christ.  In Christ, we are a new creation, with hope for eternity arising from our steadfast God.

Then why do Christians use such poor language?  Why are we so often in the business of putting people down rather than raising them up?  Why are we so often criticizing rather than edifying?  Why do we so readily speak lies to advance our position, when the truth might hurt, but in the end heals and restores?

As we begin this week, let’s start a new experiment where we formulate in our mind what we are going to say before we say it, then test that proposed language against God’s standard of love and hope, then reformulate our language appropriately before we say it?  And then let’s say it.

As Christians, our glass is not only just half full, it is full to the brim and running over in grace and blessings.

Let’s talk like it!

_________

© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

Bread – Christmas

December 24, 2016


Psalm 45

You are the most handsome of the sons of men; grace is poured upon Your lips…In Your majesty ride out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness…Your throne, O God, is forever and ever…Therefore, God, Your God, has anointed You….”  Ps. 45:1-7

I have not written Bread for over two weeks.  It seemed like every time I tried, something happened.  I could not even pick up a Bible to read the appointed Psalms.  Until this morning, Christmas Eve.

And now I know why, because it is appropriate that we start the appointed Psalm, Psalm 45, today, Christmas Eve.

The Psalmist is addressing the King of Kings, the “most handsome of the sons of men.”  To be the person addressed by the Psalmist, Jesus had to be born as a “son of man.”  The Psalmist addresses the King born of flesh.  Christmas had to come for this Psalm to take shape.

But the Psalmist also addresses his Psalm to God, and indeed Jesus Christ is also Son of God.  The Psalmist says “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever…Therefore, Your God has anointed You.”  The only way this makes sense is to realize that God the Son, the son of man, is God and He is the Son of the Father.  Although the Trinity is a great mystery which is almost impossible to understand, in these few words the Psalmist summarizes the truth.  God’s throne is forever, and the God the Father anoints God the Son, who is also the son of man.

“In Your majesty, ride out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness:”  Ps. 45:4

The Psalmist speaks to Christ, but he might as well be speaking to us.  Because God became incarnate and was born as man, He was, through His death and resurrection, building a bridge to the Father.   We are the ones, as Christ’s disciples, who can walk in His majesty.  We are the ones, because Christ has saved us from our sins, who can ride out into the world and into eternity “victoriously.”  And, because Christ is truth, meekness, and righteous, by riding out for Him, in obedience to Him we can also ride out for these things as well.

Tomorrow will be Christmas with our celebrations of gift-giving and merriment.  But as we do this, we need to reflect on the first verse of the Psalmist, as he writes “My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the King; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.”  Ps. 45:1.  Does our heart overflow in this season with a “pleasing theme?”

Our theme should be pleasing to us and to everyone – God was born into the world as a baby so that He could save me, and you.

So on this day let us listen to our heart and let us address our verses, our poem, our life and our life story, to Him, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Let us rejoice!  But let us also proclaim…”The King has come … Come, let us believe in Him, worship Him, and obey Him.  Come, let us adore Him!”

__________

© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bread – Beginnings

November 28, 2016


Psalm 43

Send out Your light and Your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling!”  Ps. 43:3

Yesterday, Sunday, began the first Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the church calendar according to many denominations, the four Sundays aiming for Christmas.  It is a time of anticipation as well as self-examination, a so-called “penitential season” which precedes the “joyful” season of Christmas.  Of course, we should be both penitent and joyful all the time as Christians, but it is helpful to emphasize some emotional states over others at different times.

It is also useful to remind ourselves that now is a time of preparation, not by racing to the stores to get the best bargains so we can give the biggest gifts, but to prepare ourselves to receive the biggest gift ever given – the Lord Jesus Himself.

Sometimes in the simplest of words there is the most profound meaning.  “Send out Your light and Your truth…”  These are some words from today’s Psalm, but they are profound.

Why?

Well, first it is God who does the sending.  The request (prayer) from the sons of Korah (presumably, since this Psalm ties to Psalm 42) is that “[God] send…”  It is by the sovereign act of God that His light enters the world; it is by the sovereign act of God that we see the light and follow it to God’s dwelling, into His presence.  No one else is available to do the sending of light.  We can by a laser send a point light to a location, and by the illumination of an electric bulb can fill a room with light.  But we did not place the sun in orbit to give the world earthly light; and we did not place Jesus Christ on earth to the be the spiritual light of the world.  God did it.

Second, the light is sent “out.”  If we were writing this, we might rephrase this to say that God sends the light “to.”  To His people, to me, to my fellow Christians, to the world. But since God is Himself the source of light, the light is sent out from Him and it hits all, but is only recognized by those whom God has enabled to behold it.

Third, the light is His – “Your light.”  It is not our light which is refocused or enhanced by some kind of God-prism or God-reflector.  It is His light.  He is the source; He is the generator; He is His light.

Fourth, light and truth go hand in hand.  “Send out Your light and Your truth…”  Not first one and then the other.  Not truth first and then light to illuminate it.  Not light first and then truth to focus it.  But both together, at the same time.  They do go together.  To those who say they have no truth or truth is relative to what they think (if they think it is truth, then it is), I would ask whether they have light.  They may say that they are enlightened, but if there is a light which they follow it is a false light, a half-light, a man-made light with a beginning and an end, which will fade into oblivion when the batteries run out.  God’s truth accompanies God’s light, and God’s light accompanies God’s truth.

We are beginning the race downhill toward Christmas, toward celebration of the moment when God indeed sent out His light and His truth in the substance of God the Son.

Let us prepare to behold the light and the truth as we again visit that manger scene and marvel about how God began his rescue operation for us.  In light.  And in truth.

_________

© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

Bread – Loud

August 29, 2016


Psalm 33

Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous!  Praise befits the upright…Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.”  Ps. 33:1,3

I was at a non-profit banquet the other day when the speaker said to us, “stand up and shout!”  I thought she was crazy and, looking around, I think that most of the people around me had a similar opinion.  But, obediently, we stood up and, after some further prompting, we sort let out a loud-ish kind of sound, which was pretty pathetic given the number of people in the room.  She then called for more enthusiasm, which was not forthcoming.  She then said to all the men in the room, “imagine yourself in a battle line and you want to scare the people you are against…Yell as loud as you can!”  At that point there was a great shout from the room which might have well been heard throughout the venue.

And what was amazing about that was that I no longer felt foolish or stupid, but I felt powerful.  I no longer had a downcast countenance, but I was looking up at the speaker.  I was no longer embarrassed, but strong.  And, again, looking around the room, I think most people joined me in those feelings.

But what was even more amazing was that people were smiling.  What was a tone of seriousness and contemplation turned into a ruckus and a tone of joy, excitement, and, actually, even happiness among everyone.  And when we sat down we were more attentive to what the speaker had to say.  We were more open to each other and to her.

We have a lot of names for this.  “Get out of your comfort zone.”  “Step out in faith.”  “Get out of your shell.”  “Turn outward, not inward.”  And probably 10,000 more ways of saying the same thing.

The Psalmist even says it – Shout to the Lord, Sing a new song – Do it all with loud shouts.

Now I was in a crowded room where I was surrounded by a lot of people yelling at the top of their lungs, so it was easy for me to do the same thing.  In a church where I am surrounded by joy, it is easy to sing a new song (one from the heart, even if the words are already printed).

But think about this…Isn’t a word spoken about Christ and love to an unknown person in an elevator a shout of joy into the silence?  Isn’t the stopping and taking time to listen to someone who needs an ear a shout of love into that person’s life?

Why don’t we do it?  Are we afraid of looking out of place, of appearing to be crazy, of not being serious or restrained enough?

Or are we afraid of the explosion of happiness and wonder which might happen when we shout out our joy into the people and circumstances of our lives?

Are we afraid of failure or, really, are we afraid of success?

“Praise befits the upright.”  Stuffed in the middle of our verse today is a profound statement.  Normally, we think of the upright as reserved, formal, or “proper.”  If we are upright, we are well-behaved which means, in company, that we follow the etiquette of the situation.  But upright here means, in its simplest sense, saved for eternity.  We are upright not because of us but because of Jesus Christ.

And what the Psalmist tells us is that, if we are upright before God, in Christ, then “praise” befits us, it fits us…it is part of us…it follows from our position in Christ.

So, this week, I think we need to ask ourselves a question in every circumstance we find ourselves … are we being loud enough as befits our position as saved?  And this doesn’t necessarily mean yelling out “Christ is King” in a crowded theater – what it may mean is speaking about the gospel in a way which will be heard to someone who needs to hear it.

Sometimes just speaking is shouting.  Sometimes just touching is shouting.  Sometimes just loving is shouting.  And sometimes shouting is shouting.

Lord, help us to discern the amount of shout of praise we need to speak into every circumstances, and Lord help us to actually do it.  Amen.

_________

© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

Bread – Revival

May 11, 2016


Psalm 19

“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul … Moreover, by them is Your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”  Ps. 19:7, 11

How can God’s law revive the soul, as stated by the Psalmist?

I think there are three ways.

The first is that we like boundaries.  Although we would protest otherwise, boundaries give us comfort because we know where the path is and where it goes, boundaries help to define who we are (as compared to other people, who we are separated from by boundaries), and boundaries provide us protection from the claims of others.  So, when we see boundaries, understand them, and appreciate them for their benefits,  our countenance improves, our feet walk lighter, and our soul is revived.

The second way the law revives the soul is that it provides us a standard by which we can live our lives, if we will but trust the Lord and let His Holy Spirit reside in us.  Now, admittedly, this is a standard which we will never achieve short of heaven, but it is a standard which we can see and we can grow toward.  As we grow toward God’s standards, we are more able to withstand the troubles in life, we are more able to focus on things that matter, and we can look back and see how far we have come from our dark days to the present.  God’s law does not cause us to belittle ourselves for our failures, but gives us the real opportunity to revel in the freedom which comes from obedience to the Master.  In being able to see a standard which is higher than ourselves, we can, with the support of the Holy Spirit, rise to the occasion.

The third way the law revives the soul is that it provides us a shield from the darts of the enemy.  As the last part of the section of the Psalm says, “By them, is Your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”  By negative implication, the law of the Lord, by telling us what to do, also then warns us about what not to do.  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…” tells us that the opposite, loving idols and other substitutes for God (including ourselves), results in loss of self, loss of others, and loss of society.  Not only does God’s law give us what we should aspire to by way of behavior and character, it also gives us what we should avoid.  And knowing what we should avoid means that, when we avoid it, our soul, our very nature, is revived.

There are two kinds of revival.  One is captured in movies and the public imagination, and is full of emotion and “glories to God.”  This kind of revival generally has a short life.   The second is the kind which takes place over a long period of time and occurs because God has reached into our place of death, has brought us into life and relationship with Him, and has taught us His way through His Word, empowering us to live life in the present to the fullest.  This kind of revival is real.  This kind of revival is long-lasting.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.”  This is real revival.  The permanent kind.  God’s kind.

_________

© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bread – Appearances

May 4, 2016


Psalm 18

“With the merciful You show Yourself merciful; with the blameless man You show Yourself blameless; with the purified You show Yourself pure; with the crooked You make Yourself seem tortuous.”  Ps. 18:25-26

How does God seem or appear to you?  Loving?  Mean?  Nice?  Powerful?  Caring?  Remote?

The Psalmist here seems to be suggesting that the way God appears to us has a lot to do with who we are.  In other words, God appears to us through the glasses we wear.  We see God through rose-colored glasses of our making.

If we are merciful, God appears to us to be merciful.  If we are hateful, God appears to us angry.  If we are crooked, then God appears to us to be complicated.  If we are loving, then God appears to be a loving God.

So we impose on God ourselves.  If we have a loathing self-image, then God appears to us as someone who does not like us very much.    If we have an exalted image of ourselves, then God appears to us as someone who loves us very much.

So, if we want to change how God appears to us, the answer would be for us to change ourselves?

If we think this way, then God is merely a mirror, reflecting back to us who we are.  With this approach, when we see God we see ourselves, which then makes us God.

There is a another way of reading the same passage.  That way would reverse the order – God appears to us as merciful; therefore we are merciful.  God appears to us to be loving; therefore we are loving.

In this way, we conform to the image of God we have rather than God conforming to the image we have of ourselves.

And we know this is true of life in general.  When we are in the mountains and we look out over a peaceful meadow with butterflies, if we are at peace the scene becomes more peaceful to us, but the reverse is even more true.  By gazing over a peaceful scene, we become more at peace ourselves.

So if our image of God affects who and how we are, how are we to gain an accurate image of God?

Quite frankly, this is where the rubber meets the road and where we so often fall down.  Where do you get your image of God?  From the movies, from friends, from books about God, from famous authors, from your grandmother, from the thoughts which flood your mind on a daily basis, from an amalgam of pagan, Christian, New Age, animalist, orthodox, far east and near east, or western philosophies or writings?  Do you get your image of God from what the world tells you about Him?

Or do you get your image of God from Him through His revelation to you – from God revealed in Scripture and revealed in the flesh, in Jesus Christ?

If you want to see anyone’s true appearance, you have to look at him and not at what people say about him.

As we gaze upon the appearance of God in Scripture and in Jesus Christ, as He really is and not as He is reported to be, something will happen to us.  As we see Him as the loving God who sacrificed Himself for us, we in turn become more able to sacrifice for others.  As we see Him as the merciful God who has given us the gift of life although we deserved nothing, we in turn become merciful to those who have hurt us.

All this comes to a head with the last phrase of today’s quote – “to the crooked You make Yourself seem tortuous.”  Are they crooked because they see God as crooked?  Perhaps … but if so, then they have an inaccurate perception of God.  And where did they get that from?  Not from Scripture, not from Christ, and therefore not from God.  They see God improperly because they are crooked and they are crooked because they see God improperly.

So what is the solution for the crooked?  To see God clearly, from His Word and not from Satan’s world, from Christ the King and not the prince of darkness.

But how can the blind see?  With man it is not possible, but with God…well.

God is not who He appears to be.  God is who He is.

Our job is to find out who He is by meeting Him in the place where He is to be found … in His Word written and His Word in the flesh in Jesus Christ.

And then appearances will match reality.

_________

© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

Bread – Speech

April 13, 2016


Psalm 15

“O Lord, who shall sojourn in Your tent?…He who … speaks truth in his heart; and who does not slander with his tongue…” Ps. 15:1-3

I called this Bread “Speech” because the Psalm says “speak truth” and “no slander,” both of which are speech and both of which come from the tongue and the mouth.

However, the Psalm does not talk about the person who speaks truth to others through his mouth, but who speaks truth “in his heart.”  How do you speak truth “in” your heart?

Nowadays we tend to think of the center of man to be his mind.  The mind calculates, orders the tongue to speak, and the intended speech flows out.  The mind calculates, orders the limbs to move, and the intended movement occurs.

Because we exalt reason, we focus on the mind as what separates us from beasts and what enables us to be fully human.

But, historically and probably more accurately, the mind is not considered to be the center of a man, but the heart.    From the heart comes love over logic, emotion over rationality, integrity over decision, belief over analysis, courage over assessment, wellbeing over wealth.

When a man speaks truth “in his heart,” his character is formed around that characteristic.  While the mind may use truth as a weapon, the heart uses it as a standard.  While the mind adapts the truth to the circumstances, the heart where the truth “is in” adapts truth to nothing, because truth is not adaptable.  For the person who speaks truth “in” his heart, it is natural and probably even necessary that he speak truth from his mouth.  Because a man speaks truth “in his heart,” in his centermost being, in his core, we know him as reliable, as trustworthy, as a wise counselor, and as honest.  We trust those who speak the truth (even though we may not like them because we don’t like what they have to say or how they say it) and we distrust those who don’t (even though we may like them because they are telling us what we want to hear).

Once the truth is spoken “in his heart,” the man of God will not slander with his tongue.  Slander is a type of lie which has the added quality of being intended to hurt the object of the slander.    It is a lie designed to harm.  It does not reflect love of neighbor but hate of neighbor.

Somebody may now come forward and say, well, what about so-called “white lies,” the little lies we all tell when it is socially advantageous to do so.    We all know them and we all do them.  For example, for men, when a woman asks you whether she looks good in the dress she loves and she doesn’t look so good in it, what do you say?  For women, when a man asks you on a date who you do not want to go out with, how many times do you have a non-existent appointment which interferes with the proposed date?

What I think is interesting about this Psalm is that it speaks to truth as character, of being trustworthy, but does not say that that truth has to come out of your mouth every time.  It only says that we should not use our tongue to harm, to slander.  Perhaps the difference between someone who speaks truth “in” his heart and someone who doesn’t is this – the trustworthy man knows when he has said a little lie and has deliberately done so in order to avoid hurting someone’s feelings; the untrustworthy man does not care whether he utters a lie or not as long as the objective is achieved.  The trustworthy man knows when he has told a white lie and wonders whether it was the right thing to do; the untrustworthy man never does that.  For a trustworthy man to speak a small lie, it hurts; an untrustworthy man doesn’t feel a thing.

We tend to think of all speech as external, but as this Psalm shows, it is not.  The man who can walk with God is the man who speaks God in his heart; the man who can obey God is the man who speaks obedience to God in his heart; the man who can speak truth in all circumstances where it needs to be spoken must first of all have spoken that truth in his heart.

What language do you speak to and in your heart?  Is it the language of fear and defeat, or the language of life?  Is it the language of truth or the language of lies?  Is it the language of Satan or the language of God?  Is it the language of the heavens or the language of the world?

Jesus said “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.”  Matt. 12:34b-35

What treasure is deposited in your heart?

Don’t like the answer?  Then start speaking truth in your heart … the truth of Jesus Christ, the truth of the gospel, the truth of Scripture, the truth of God … and see what happens.

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© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

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