“Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.”–Psalm 24: 3-4
“Above all, my brothers, do not swear-not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your ‘yes’ be yes, and your ‘no’, no, or you will be condemned.” –James 5: 12
“…Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the head, that is, Christ”. –Ephesians 4: 15
In our day and age dishonesty can mask as common courtesy, and this tendency to hide difficult truths must be dealt with before we can address others candidly in heart-healing counseling. Healing comes through love but truth does the surgery that enables healing. Compassion unstructured by genuine reality will not lead a person to the Way who is Christ. It may temporarily make her feel better and may keep us from risking rejection, but it will not usher the sufferer closer to the presence of God.
Like Pontius Pilate, all of us at times ask, “What is truth?” (John 18: 38). We are bombarded by theories and opinions everywhere we turn. Because of this and our society’s programmed fear of being “politically incorrect”, acceptance of diversity is sometimes preferred over the solid upholding of traditional values. While it is accurate to say that many have turned from Christ’s presence in their lives because they were disgusted by another’s dogmatic “Bible thumping”, at the same time we still have a mandate to present the truth that we know because of our relationship with the Lord of the Bible.
Excuses are a form of denial and are used to keep from facing reality or to avoid personal responsibility. We need encouragement to be accountable to one another without excuses. This may mean we need to lovingly confront. In Latin the term for confrontation is translated, “to turn your face toward, to look at frontally”. When we can honestly turn toward relationship with a person to make the connection stronger despite the danger of his negative reaction, we are ready to stop making excuses and start speaking the truth.
Excuses allow us to sidestep difficult conversations. We all need a commitment to one another that means confronting in love when necessary for the sake of deepening intimacy, because we know that as connection expands we can experience progressively more of God’s love and grace in the relationship.
Talking openly and frankly to a friend takes the risk that he will get angry or walk away from us. Accepting that chance in order to protect the relationship from elements that can harm it is an act of unselfish love. For the sake of the bond we must sometimes set aside our own fear of abandonment.
Sometimes that fear manifests in rationalizations why we “can’t” come together in some way with the other person. Nevertheless, if we force ourselves to bring up and attempt to resolve issues in a relationship, we can become genuinely close. Conflict is inevitable in establishing emotional intimacy because we all have different strengths, weaknesses, passions, vulnerabilities, and wants. The more we connect with one another through mutual acceptance, the better linked we will be at a heart level.
Nothing is more miserable than to coexist with a person but feel alone and apart at the same time. The pain of unresolved conflict causes us to shut down our emotions. We do this to ourselves when we reject parts of us. We do this with associates when we withdraw from familiarity with them. We may push God away.
God did not design us to be isolated and fragmented. He made us to work out struggles and resolve issues that separate us. We must be willing to gently yet truthfully talk about hard things (2 Corinthians 6: 11-13; 1 John 4: 7).