There are many factors that help make a strong Christian life. Obviously we need to spend quality time in the Word of God, as well as prayer and Christian service. But there is another important ingredient for us to become a mature believer. We need to be honest with ourselves and the Lord.
Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what it says is like a man, who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it– he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25)
First consider the need of being honest with ourselves. James says that those who merely ‘hear’ the Word without ‘obeying’ the Word are only deceiving themselves. The word ‘deceive’ is an interesting word. It means to make a miscalculation. It refers to coming to a conclusion that is close enough to the truth to seem reasonable, yet far enough away to still be wrong. James tells us that we deceive ourselves whenever the Word reveals to us truth, yet we fail to apply it. The Message translates this passage as, “letting the Word go in one ear and out the other.”
We also need to be honest with the Lord. Scripture tells us that “if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9)
Recently I had a feeling in my heart that I knew deep down was wrong. What should I do with this sinful thought? I could pretend that it wasn’t sinful and continue on in my way, or I could admit that it was sinful, yet fail to seek forgiveness. Instead I chose to face it in an honest and upfront manner. I went to the Lord in prayer and I openly shared with Him how I was feeling. I admitted that my thoughts were wrong and I asked Him to not only forgive me, but also to help me to change. I asked God to replace the wrong thoughts with the kind of thoughts that would honor Him. I chose to be honest and I received His help.
Satan is a master of deception and one of his most powerful weapons is dishonesty. As long as he can convince us to be dishonest, he can hold us captive. Jesus said that it is ‘the truth that shall set us free.’ (John 8:32)
Is there a thought or feeling in your life today that needs some good old-fashion honesty? Don’t be afraid. God already knows everything about you and He is willing to help. I can tell you from experience, honesty is indeed the best policy.