I remember learning from an old friend that his wife had been lying to him about an incident she had denied being involved with years ago – until the facts emerged that she had been involved with another man. My friend was crushed by the admission of deceit and infidelity. They tried marriage counseling but the wife was not very interested in repairing the damage she caused. She even had the gall to leave her husband for this rogue “boyfriend” and took their young children with her after an ugly custody battle.
Read Joshua 7:1-25.
One of the realities of Scripture is we are introduced to heroes and zeroes: examples of men and women who live lives worthy of emulating and those we can also learn from due to their poor choices. Achan, an ordinarily minor character in the larger narrative of Israel’s pilgrimage to the Promised Land did something that catapulted him to the front pages of history. He tainted a major victory of the Israelites by his deceit.
Just as Israel prepared to enter Jericho, God gave Joshua instructions about dealing with this city and its inhabitants. In addition, God told Joshua to warn the Hebrews that they were not to take any of the silver, gold, bronze, or iron for themselves, because all of the spoils of the capture of Jericho would be sacred to the Lord and must go into His treasury (Joshua 6:18-19).
In spite of the warning, Achan took some of the riches for himself, assuming no one would ever know. This is where the old song begins to play in our heads…”Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” When Achan’s sin was discovered and exposed, he and his family were judged guilty by God and destroyed.
I understand this Old Testament story sounds harsh and unforgiving and seems like an example of unfair punishment. Consider the New Testament account of Ananias and his wife Sapphira, first century participants in the young and growing Jerusalem church. Dr. Luke (author of the Gospel that bears his name, as well as the book of Acts) records that their deaths were attributed to their doing one thing and trying to make it look like another (5:1-11). They were declared guilty of deceit and lying to the Lord.
The truth is anytime we lie, pretend, or deceive, we take a step back from the light. We deceive ourselves, thinking no one will know. Gradually over time, our initial feelings of guilt turn into a lazy, self-justification of our behavior. We convince ourselves (and others) that what we did was actually right and proper, not wrong. The reality is that whether quickly or gradually, deceit kills from the inside out.
Deception erodes our relational trust with others long before it is discovered. It even deadens our heart toward others (and God) while it is hidden. The only cure is honest confession and repentance, first to God, then to the person(s) involved.
Is there something you are trying to hide from God and others? Remember the truth of 1 John 1:8-9. Live communally. Walk in the light. When we deceive, we begin to die. When we embrace the truth, we begin to live…again. Deceit kills, but truth gives life.
Love is a verb,
©2015 by Mike Olejarz