'The Truth Hurts'!
'No Pain, No Gain!'
'Honesty is the Best Policy'!
I'm pretty sure there are more applicable cliche's like these out there, but for my purposes here, these'll do just fine! Most of us are fairly comfortable employing the first two & the second in particular when used in the context of say, 'working out' ( exercising ). We Christians, especially those with more open minds, like to use the first when debating certain points with brethren who aren't quite as open-minded as they should be ( when it comes to truth versus tradition ). When it comes to the last statement, 'honesty is the best policy', we like to say it, it sounds good rolling of the tongue, so to speak, but how many of us, when it comes right down to it, actually employ this principle?
I can't help but remember here a story from my childhood; it went something like this, a young acquaintance of mine ( no names here to protect the simply honest ), when asked how he liked a certain ( older ) lady's dress, remarked that it was the ugliest dress he'd ever seen! Okay, so maybe I embellish a little, but honestly, he was just being honest. Now, if he'd been a bit older & 'wiser', he might have known that one doesn't say such things to a lady, but being the young innocent he was, he didn't realize this & so was cut some slack; in other words, he felt no repercussions from his brazen statement!
Another example of how honesty may not always seem to be the best policy might be a case ( totally fictitious, of course ) where someone is either dying in your arms or closer to death than they realize! The natural instinct in such a case, especially if they're a loved one, would be to say something like, 'everything's going to be fine', or 'it's really not that bad''. Telling someone 'it's just a flesh wound' or it's just a scratch', when they're in danger of bleeding to death', may seem like the merciful thing to say at such a time & it may even seem to be 'wisdom' to cajole them like this in order to keep them calm, but in all cases, honesty is the best policy! Say you tell them 'it's just a scratch' & so they stop fighting & sink into oblivion?!
The Truth DOES hurt; without pain of some sort, three usually is no gain or growth! In order to move ahead, we must be honest, first with ourselves, then with others, no matter the hurt, regardless of the painful memories that the Truth might stir up! Yes, it is possible & to many of us operate in this manner; we TRY to move forward without dealing with the problem. Sometimes we are able, through whatever Grace bestowed on us, to forget the hurt, numb ourselves to the pain & actually move forward, past all the memories, forgetting the pain & suffering, whether imagined or real! More often than not though, as the case may be, we use drugs of whatever sort to numb ourselves, put on a strong face to cover our weak & broken heart & simply move PAST those memories to a place where we can almost forget the harm that's been done! When this occurs, which is usually more often than not, the pain, though forgotten ( almost ) is not really gone; it just sits there hidden, festering like an internal sore & ready at any moment to burst open, unleashing an even greater flood of painful memories!
There is only one way to avoid this & that is ( you guessed it ) to be honest! Honesty is always the best policy; in any relationship, if the parties involved cannot be totally honest with one another, where do you suppose the trust level stands? Scripture tells us to 'be sure your sin will find you out' ( Numbers 32:23 ) Though the context here may be a bit different, since our God, the Creator of all is unchanging & all-knowing, this principle still stands; when we either cause or allow harm to persist, though we sweep it under the rug, it will surely come back to bite us in the ass, sooner or later ( some say, 'karma's a bitch' )!
Now, I'm not necessarily saying that we should tell each other every dirty little secret we can think of; some things really are better left unsaid, but when harm has been done, real or imagined, the longer we allow it to stagnate, the worse it will be when it finally, sooner or later comes out! It's not just going to blow over! It may seem to, but where then is the trust; where is the fellowship?
We as the Body of Christ have been given the Ministry of Reconciliation; if we can't reconcile among ourselves, then what good are we? Why are we here but to reconcile through example? We are the Body of Christ, not the Creator Himself, the only way we can lead someone to repentance is to lead by example; we cannot affect the heart ( ? ) like the Creator! Even through our weakness & maybe especially through our weakness, we can only hope to effect reconciliation in the lives of others, but only if we ourselves are reconciled.
There is a world of hurt out there, not only metaphorically, but mentally & physically! We, even the Body of Christ, weak & susceptible as we are through our humanity, have been the cause of much of this pain & suffering! We cannot blame this on anyone but ourselves, not even our Creator, for He gives us choices & we don't always, even the most upright of us, make the right ones! We have a tendency, as weak humanity, to try to 'smooth things over', hoping against hope that everything will work out in the end. We want to be 'nice' to others so that they will play with us & often things seem to be going along swimmingly when all of the sudden, BAM, something happens & our true feelings/nature emerges; the hurt that follows most often has a worse effect than if the parties involved had adopted a policy of total honesty from the beginning!
As the Body of Christ, then & even as those who don't claim any certain religion, let us determine to adopt such a policy ( of total honesty ), not necessarily to let everything hang out ( flappin' in the breeze' ) so to speak, but to move forward in our Kingdom Expansion! It is the Kingdom of our Creator, our Father God & He will grow His Own, but God forbid we should miss the boat because of our own stubbornness & refusal to reconcile. May we prove, first, among ourselves & then in the world around us, our Reconciliation, our honesty!
Charles Haddon Shank