The Truth Hurts

Have you ever been called out for something you did wrong? Has anyone confronted you with the truth about your actions and caused you to feel shame and remorse? I am sure that we have all had that moment. I know I have. When we are held accountable for our sins, especially when this accountability comes from a friend, it is a very painful way to have to own up to our bad behavior. The truth hurts.

Our scripture today comes from 2 Samuel, when King David had Uriah the Hittite sent to the front line of battle in order for him to be killed. David seduced and impregnated Uriah’s wife, and after a failed attempt to cover up his misdeed, he resorted to plotting murder against Uriah. David then took Uriah’s wife for his own. He thought he had gotten away with it.

Then he got caught by his good friend Nathan:

2 Samuel (The Message)

12 1-3 But God was not at all pleased with what David had done, and sent Nathan to David. Nathan said to him, “There were two men in the same city—one rich, the other poor. The rich man had huge flocks of sheep, herds of cattle. The poor man had nothing but one little female lamb, which he had bought and raised. It grew up with him and his children as a member of the family. It ate off his plate and drank from his cup and slept on his bed. It was like a daughter to him.

“One day a traveler dropped in on the rich man. He was too stingy to take an animal from his own herds or flocks to make a meal for his visitor, so he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared a meal to set before his guest.”

5-6 David exploded in anger. “As surely as God lives,” he said to Nathan, “the man who did this ought to be lynched! He must repay for the lamb four times over for his crime and his stinginess!”

How quickly David screams for accountability! Yet he doth protest too much. It is interesting to see how easily David could spot the splinter in the traveler’s eye whilst having to look around the ginormous log that was lodged in his own. It is a common thing for guilty people to quickly deflect responsibility to others and point a finger away from their own behavior.

7-12 “You’re the man!” said Nathan.

You are the man. You are the guilty one, David, and God will surely deal with you in his own way. In the end, the truth always comes out, and David indeed was punished.

We are in the midst of the investigation of the attack on the United States Capitol on January 6th here in America Two Capitol police officers and two Metropolitan police officers gave their testimonies yesterday. These brave men in blue put their bodies on the line to protect and serve the men and women working in the Capitol building that day. Without a thought to their own safety, they did their job of protecting people against a violent insurrection.

Listen closely to their testimonies. Watch the evidence of their body cameras. It will break your heart. The truth of what they went through is so painful, it will make you want to turn away. Don’t turn away. They deserve our respect and our prayers for the continuing healing of their bodies, minds, and spirits.

Those who raised fists, used tasers, destroyed property, deployed tear gas and bear spray, bashed bones with baseball bats, flag poles, and pieces of furniture, etc. must be held accountable. Those who yelled, “Kill him with his own gun” must be held accountable. Those who facilitated this horrific event must be held accountable.

The truth is often hard to hear and harder to see. May God grant us clarity as we discover the uncomfortable truths. And God bless those officers who took the brunt for many people who remain ungrateful.

May the truth set them, and us, free.

The Truth Will Set Us Free by Michelle Robertson


Is there ever a good reason to lie?

Can God use a falsehood or deception for our good?

Every pastor at some point in their ministry faces this dilemma. I faced mine many years ago when a battered wife came to me for refuge with her two small children. Her husband had become very violent after a horrific argument, so she fled to me for safety while she worked out something more permanent.

That Sunday, as she and the children remained sheltered in my home, her husband suddenly walked down the aisle just as worship was about to begin and stood and addressed the congregation. He cried and pleaded with us to tell him where his “deranged wife had hidden his children.” He claimed that he knew it was someone in the church and he demanded the truth. Anyone harboring his children was evil, he shouted. He looked straight at me as he made his speech, knowing that I would be one of the places where she should flee. As he turned to leave, he asked me directly if I knew where his family was. I looked him straight in the eye and said “no” in front of the entire congregation.

Thus I told a blatant untruth in the sanctuary on the Sabbath, and I would do it again.

In this wonderful story from the second chapter of Joshua, we see a woman look a man straight in the eye and tell a lie:

Joshua 2 (Common English Bible)

2 Joshua, Nun’s son, secretly sent two men as spies from Shittim. He said, “Go. Look over the land, especially Jericho.” They set out and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab. They bedded down there.

Someone told the king of Jericho, “Men from the Israelites have come here tonight to spy on the land.”

So the king of Jericho sent word to Rahab: “Send out the men who came to you, the ones who came to your house, because they have come to spy on the entire land.”

We have to interrupt this message to remind ourselves of the importance of hospitality in this ancient culture. The Jewish Virtual Library says this about Old Testament hospitality:

In ancient Israel, hospitality was not merely a question of good manners, but a moral institution which grew out of the harsh desert and nomadic existence led by the people of Israel. The biblical customs of welcoming the weary traveler and of receiving the stranger in one’s midst was the matrix out of which hospitality and all its tributary aspects developed into a highly esteemed virtue in Jewish tradition. Biblical law specifically sanctified hospitality toward the ger (“stranger”) who was to be made particularly welcome “for you were strangers in a strange land” (Lev. 19:34 and see Ex. 12:49). Foreign travelers, although not protected by law (Deut. 15:3; 23:21), could count on the custom of hospitality.

So Rahab is complying with the expectations of hospitality in ancient Israel that dictate that strangers in your house come under your protection. But then she takes that one step farther:

But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. Then she said, “Of course the men came to me. But I didn’t know where they were from. The men left when it was time to close the gate at dark, but I don’t know where the men went. Hurry! Chase after them! You might catch up with them.” But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the flax stalks that she had laid out on the roof. The men from Jericho chased after them in the direction of the Jordan up to the fords. As soon as those chasing them went out, the gate was shut behind them.

Why did Rahab lie? Why risk getting caught in this blatant untruth in order to save two strangers from her fellow countrymen? Did Rahab know something else?

Before the spies bedded down, Rahab went up to them on the roof. She said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land. Terror over you has overwhelmed us. The entire population of the land has melted down in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Reed Sea in front of you when you left Egypt. We have also heard what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites on the other side of the Jordan. You utterly wiped them out. 11 We heard this and our hearts turned to water. Because of you, people can no longer work up their courage. This is because the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below. 

Rahab’s lie was based on a larger truth. It was the truth that the Lord God who had brought the Israelites out of Egypt through the Reed Sea was the same God who had sent the two spies into her home that night. She knew of God’s might and power, and so she aligned herself with these men in order to barter for the protection of her family:

12 Now, I have been loyal to you. So pledge to me by the Lord that you in turn will deal loyally with my family. Give me a sign of good faith. 13 Spare the lives of my father, mother, brothers, and sisters, along with everything they own. Rescue us from death.”

Rahab’s cunning and quick thinking saved the lives of the two men, and they in turn protected her family. A lowly prostitute outwitted the authorities by leveraging what she had for what she needed.

14 The men said to her, “We swear by our own lives to secure yours. If you don’t reveal our mission, we will deal loyally and faithfully with you when the Lord gives us the land.”

Sometimes we need to go to extremes to protect the ones we love. Sometimes, especially in the face of violence, we are called to lie, deceive, and leverage what we have in order to provide safety and sanctuary for the weak and vulnerable.

God protects those who protect others in the name of the Lord. The truth of God’s divine power and might wins out every time.

Safe Sanctuary by Lola Hilton

Speaking Truth to Power

The chaos of what happened last week in America’s Capitol is foremost on our minds today. How could this hallowed institution be breached by violent insurrectionists? How could a mob of thugs get inside the very tangible and visible symbol of our country’s democracy? Where did it all go wrong?

I don’t think it started to go wrong last Wednesday. I don’t think it started in November. I don’t even think it started to fall apart four years ago. Our deep and polarizing issues have been dividing us since the inception of our country, and our continued failure to address the issues that divide us brought us straight up the capitol steps last week in the form of blood and insurrection. Until we confront our national racism, the abuse of power, the advantage of privilege, the entitlement of the wealthy, widespread inequity, oppression, and injustice, we will continue to experience hurtful and damaging division.

Where we go wrong is when we fail to speak truth to power.

In this passage from 1 Samuel 3, we see a similar conundrum. Samuel is a young man serving in the household of Eli, who was the judge and high priest. God’s word was not heard much in those days, but the presence of God was still in the temple, where Samuel served. Eli’s sons had committed many sins against God, using their privilege and entitlement as “sons of the high priest” as their cover. Eli had been warned that his household was about to fall apart due to their rebellion. Finally God spoke directly to young Samuel:

1 Samuel 3 (Common English Bible)

11 The Lord said to Samuel, “I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of all who hear it tingle! 12 On that day, I will bring to pass against Eli everything I said about his household—every last bit of it! 13 I told him that I would punish his family forever because of the wrongdoing he knew about—how his sons were cursing God, but he wouldn’t stop them. 14 Because of that I swore about Eli’s household that his family’s wrongdoing will never be reconciled by sacrifice or by offering.”

15 Samuel lay there until morning, then opened the doors of the Lord’s house. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16 But Eli called Samuel, saying: “Samuel, my son!”

“I’m here,” Samuel said.

17 “What did he say to you?” Eli asked. “Don’t hide anything from me. May God deal harshly with you and worse still if you hide from me a single word from everything he said to you.”18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him.

“He is the Lord, ” Eli said. “He will do as he pleases.”

19 So Samuel grew up, and the Lord was with him, not allowing any of his words to fail. 20 All Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was trustworthy as the Lord’s prophet.

When we find ourselves in a situation where God is calling us to speak truth to power, we must remember Samuel. His obedience to say the harsh word to someone who had authority over him was blessed by God. For the rest of his days, the Lord was with him and did not allow any of his words to fail.

Where is God calling you to speak out? Is there a situation in your family that needs resolution? Are you suffering in your workplace because of unfair policies or discrimination? Is your marriage or relationship off-kilter because your partner is too controlling and causing you harm? Is it time to email your Congressional leadership and demand change?

Samuel teaches us that being trustworthy to the Lord’s message is more important than anything else. When you speak for God, he will be with you, always.

It’s time to speak up.

Purple Mountains Majesty by Kathy Schumacher