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 Then he showed me another vision. I saw the Lord standing beside a wall that had been built using a plumb line. He was using a plumb line to see if it was still straight. And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” I answered, “A plumb line.” And the Lord replied, “I will test my people with this plumb line. I will no longer ignore all their sins. Amos 7:7-8 (NLT)

I remember a Sunday School story from years ago. It was the story of a little girl that got caught lying to her Grandma. After being ‘caught red handed’ the little girl confessed that she lied but it didn’t seem like such a big deal because it was just ‘a little white lie’.

The wise grandmother said nothing. She asked the little girl if she’d like to help make brownies, which of course, she did. After adding all the ingredients from the recipe grandma handed the girl a small bowl and asked her to go out to the barn and ask grandpa for a small bowl of manure to put in the brownies so they could finish baking them.

The girl was appalled! “Grandma! We can’t put manure in the brownies. It will ruin them.” Grandma assured her that it would only be a little bit of manure, not much, and she’d hardly taste it.” The argument continued until grandma smiled and put her hand on the little girls arm.

Honey, you’re right. We won’t put any manure in the brownies. Even a little bit would completely ruin the whole batch. But that’s like sin, even little white lies destroy our relationship with God and with others.

It was a lesson well learned by the little girl…and me for that matter. The enemy wants us to believe that small sins don’t matter. Especially those things we do in private that only affect ourselves.  “The Lie he wants us to believe is that “Little sins only hurt me.”

This lie of the enemy is flawed in two ways. First of all, there are no small sins in God’s eyes. Sin is sin. Period. It doesn’t matter how large it is or how small it is. It isn’t important if the thing you have done affects thousands or yourself alone. In God’s eyes there is no difference.

That’s a good news/bad news situation for us. Because there is no ‘sin hierarchy’ in God’s eyes then anything you have done that you (or others) consider horrendous is on the same level as what others may consider ‘minor sins.’ The bad news is that you are no better off than any other sinner! This puts us in the same class as a child molester, or a terrorist or any other person. Sin is sin. Period.

The other flaw in the enemies lie to us is that sin is something we do against God, not people. People may have the scars. People may bear the pain of our sin. But ultimately our sin isn’t against ourselves or anyone else. It’s against God himself. That makes his forgiveness and acceptance of us even more amazing.

When we buy into the enemies lie about sin we tend to rationalize about it (He did it so I can too; If you think this is bad, you should see what she did; I know it’s wrong but…) or we play the comparison game (at least I’m not as bad as…). When we do this we are trying to live by human standards and not God’s standards.

In Isaiah, God says, I’ll set the plumb line. I’ll do the measuring. If you fall short of my standards in ANY way you will be judged. Only by the Grace of God and the forgiveness offered through Jesus Christ can we approach God.

Increased love for Jesus leads naturally to obedience just as increased love for our lover drives us to want to do whatever we can to make that person know how much we love them. The sign of a person that loves you is that he/she encourages you to do what you excel at; supports your dreams; seeks your good, not theirs. That’s what Jesus has done for each of us.

In spite of our sin we are loved dearly by him. That’s why he came to die for us. God will do whatever he can to build a passionate love relationship with you but obedience is the key to that relationship.

Truth Statement: Sin is sin and affects our relationship with God regardless of how it affects others. (But complete forgiveness is available through Jesus Christ no matter what we’ve done, big or small!)

PRAYER: Father God, I’ve been listening to the lie about sin. I have many ‘little habits, or vices’ that I know are wrong but have overlooked them because I didn’t think they hurt anyone. Now I realize they hurt you and our relationship. Forgive me for the little things. Empower me to stop listening to the lie and live for you. In Jesus name, Amen.

(From the series “Lies that Keep Us from Loving Ourselves. Osceola Community Church-October 2011)

No one who is dishonest will live in my house; no liars will stay around me. Psalm 101:7 (NCV)

You have a beautiful Ash tree in your back yard. The tree has been there since you first moved in. It’s been a climbing tree for your kids and now your grandkids. Their favorite tire swing hangs from that tree. It’s been the home of countless birds over the years, been shade for innumerable tea parties and withstood several storms and harsh winters.

Now, in a matter of a couple years it stands leafless. You noticed over the past couple years that its branches were becoming bare, but even so its nakedness catches you by surprise. You do some research and find out the culprit of your Ash tree’s demise is a little beetle about 1/3 of an inch long. The Emerald Ash Borer doesn’t look that impressive but it destroys thousands of trees every year.

In the same way that the Emerald Ash Borer destroys thousands trees every year, little white lies destroy or damage relationships. They start out small. Little ‘half-truths’ we call them. Little statements that we call harmless, but often grow more damaging as we try to cover our tracks.

A friend of mine was an investigator for law enforcement. One day he told me that he never believes the person he is investigating until he tells this story the third time. The first two times always add or take away facts that may incriminate him. The third version of the story usually brings all the facts together.

The Psalmist states clearly that dishonesty will never have a place under his roof. Why? Is he legalistic? Is he judgmental and demanding? Is he unfeeling and merciless? Not really. The Psalmist simply realizes that the most destructive thing to a relationship is a lie. Lies, regardless of their color, size or shape, are equally destructive to trust in a relationship.

Most of the time we lie to ourselves, others or even God (like he doesn’t know the truth!) to protect ourselves from conflict and/or to avoid consequences of our own behavior. Honesty with ourselves, others or God may be difficult and painful at first, but the pain we suffer for telling the truth the first time will be less than the pain we suffer for those ‘little white lies’ that grow into destructive monsters.

Take a lesson from the Emerald Ash Borer. Those little lies you tell will never help a relationship and will most likely cause damage in the long run. Being honest with yourself and with God is the first step to honesty with others.

PRAYER: Father God. I confess to you what you already know. I have a hard time being honest with you. I have a hard time being honest with others. I now realize that the difficulty I have with being honest is that I don’t feel good about me. Help me to have the confidence and strength to be honest with myself so I can be honest with others (including you). In Jesus name, Amen.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. Luke 16:10

Jesus tells the story of a man who was caught cheating by his employer. As a result of the dishonesty the man was informed that he would lose his job. Before he was fired he went to all the people that owed his boss money and gave them huge discounts. While this further cheated his boss, it made the man many friends. We aren’t told in the story, but no doubt these people were willing to help the dishonest person because he helped them.

The lesson from this story is that honesty isn’t dependent on the amount entrusted but on the sense of responsibility a person has to those who trust him. The man in the story may have been considered generous by those he gave discounts to, but in reality, he wasn’t concerned in the least about their well-being. He was really only concerned about himself.

Our view of ourselves has a huge part to play on whether we are honest or dishonest. Many times we will lie to cover up our own mistakes, choosing to blame others instead of accepting the responsibility. Other times we may lie to make ourselves look better. We don’t want to admit we are weak, so we lie to make ourselves look better than someone else.

Dishonesty at any level destroys our entire reputation. If I lie about a little thing, then I most likely will lie about bigger things as well. On small amount of dirt in a clear glass of water taints the whole glass and makes it undrinkable. In the same way one little lie, on little act of deception tarnishes our entire character.

As Christ-followers each of us is responsible for making sure we are men and women of integrity and trust. There is no place in our lives for any action that has it’s basis on avoiding responsibility for our actions or making others look bad for our own benefit.

Grace teaches us that we are, in some senses, completely helpless to live a life of purity and perfection. There will be times when we fail in our attempt to be honest. There may be times when our actions are misunderstood as being malicious when they are not. Those are the times we can come to our Savior, Jesus Christ, for forgiveness, and strength to continue on.

Start with the small things. As you learn to trust Him for strength in the small areas of your weakness you will find it easier to tackle the larger areas where you tend to be dishonest. Jesus didn’t come to condemn liars. He came to empower them to be honest.

PRAYER: Father you know that I tend to be dishonest in some of the things I say. I ask that you would forgive me for those times. Empower me by your Spirit to be willing to accept responsibility for my actions. Enable me to be a person of integrity for your sake. Amen.

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