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The spiritual peril of lying to ourselves (and others)

February 4, 2023

Daily Scripture

1 John 1:6 – 2:5, Psalm 51:6-7

1 John 1

6 If we claim, “We have fellowship with him,” and live in the darkness, we are lying and do not act truthfully. 7 But if we live in the light in the same way as he is in the light, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin. 8 If we claim, “We don’t have any sin,” we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong. 10 If we claim, “We have never sinned,” we make him a liar and his word is not in us.
2:1 My little children, I’m writing these things to you so that you don’t sin. But if you do sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. 2 He is God’s way of dealing with our sins, not only ours but the sins of the whole world. 3 This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commandments. 4 The one who claims, “I know him,” while not keeping his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in this person. 5 But the love of God is truly perfected in whoever keeps his word. This is how we know we are in him.

Psalm 51

6 And yes, you want truth in the most hidden places;
you teach me wisdom in the most secret space.
7 Purify me with hyssop and I will be clean;
wash me and I will be whiter than snow.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

It’s hard, maybe impossible, to be honest with others if you are not being honest with yourself and God. Honesty begins inside you before it shows itself to others. John knew we humans can “testify falsely” even, and most destructively, to ourselves: “If we claim, ‘We don’t have any sin,’ we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” You can’t accept God’s forgiveness and power to live more like Jesus if you stubbornly deny that something you’ve done needs forgiveness. John added, “But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong” (verse 9). Israel’s King David, a bold man of action, needed a strong nudge from the prophet Nathan to “own” the serious errors he’d made and lies he’d told. (If you don’t know the story, you can read it in 2 Samuel 11:1 – 12:13.) Then David cast himself unreservedly on God’s mercy. As he sought forgiveness and cleansing, he linked that closely with continued inner transformation.

  • “Misinformation” may be careless; “disinformation” is intentional. Both are hurtful and damaging, creating mistrust and cynicism in givers and receivers. Both seem to get easier behind the full or partial anonymity of interactions on our technology tools. But this week’s Bible readings show that humans have struggled to be truthful throughout our history. Do you understand the inner or outer forces that most often drive you to twist facts or excuse actions you might change if you faced them honestly? How does trusting in God’s grace and compassion make moral honesty cleansing, rather than threatening? If you find it hard to fully commit yourself to choosing honesty on social media and in person, read and pray about Psalm 32. Then live in the light of Jesus’ love and grace, with truth as your guide in the most hidden and most public places.

Lord God, help me clearly see the times when I am wrong. Help me be honest with myself and with you. Thank you for offering me your grace and transformation at those times. Amen.

GPS Insights

Cathy Bien

Cathy Bien

Cathy Bien serves as the Lead Director of Communications and Public Relations at Church of the Resurrection. She and her husband Rick have been members of the church since 1993 and have four adult children and one grandson.



When someone asks how you are, is your go-to response “I’m fine”? Interestingly, the adjective “fine” can mean “of high quality,” but it can also mean “thin.” I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to describe my life as thin. Fine seems to be an easy way to assure someone (and ourselves) that we are okay (not great, but okay) and to put up a facade to protect us from being too open and authentic. The more we do this, the more we may deceive ourselves and continue to live in the darkness described in 1 John.

As I scrolled through my social media feed, it appears that all my friends are “fine.” People are taking trips, spending time with family, eating great food, and cheering for the Chiefs. Life is all good – but maybe it’s not. I know I’m putting the same kinds of social messages out there, but not everything in my life is fine. I’m sometimes exhausted from caring for my family. I get frustrated at work (yes, even a church workplace isn’t perfect). My feelings have been hurt. My faith has even gone through a “luke-warm” period. All real, all not fine.

So what do we do? First, we can start by being more honest in our interactions. If someone asks how you are, it’s okay to let them know how you really are. On the other side of that conversation, don’t ask someone how they are unless you’re willing to listen to them and walk alongside them.

Second, I’m going to propose that oversharing on social media is not the answer. There are some places and situations where we need to protect ourselves and be careful about baring our souls. Social media is one of those places. You may get a lot of praying hand emojis, but what you really need is someone to take your hands and pray with you.

Third, identify those people with whom you can be totally honest and authentic. Pastor Adam talks about “stretcher-bearers,” the people who will come alongside you and carry you through the dark times. I like to think of them as faith partners. These are the people who I can be completely honest with because they are honest with me. They hold me accountable and call me out when I’m deceiving myself.

If we are going to “live in the light” as the writer of 1 John challenges us today, we need to stop deceiving ourselves. Only when we acknowledge and confess the places where we are imperfect and where we have fallen short, can we accept God’s grace and forgiveness and move out of the darkness and into the light. We have to be honest with ourselves first.

Bonus note: I just can’t write about being “fine” without mentioning one of my favorite fiction authors, Louise Penny,who has written a murder mystery series set in Quebec that enters around Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and a recurring cast of characters in the small village of Three Pines.* One of these characters, a crazy poet named Ruth Zardo has written a book of poetry called “I’m F.I.N.E.” Throughout the series, the characters frequently use this acronym to remind one another that much of the time we are anything but fine. (You can use your imagination for what the acronym stands for or look it up. I’ll be honest, the language isn’t appropriate, but it does make me smile.)

*Season 1 of Three Pines is available on Amazon Prime.

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.