Dream word – INTEGRITY
“But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no,’ ‘no,’ lest you fall into judgment.” NKJV
The sound of sharpening knives
I didn’t know where I was, so, I went up to the man in the tall black hat and politely explained my situation and asked if he could help? Sniffing through his nose, while tilting his head slightly back, grimacing and arching his lips down, he seemed to chin the air with an affirmative response. Then, without saying a word, with his left hand he quickly whips out a steel and with his right hand, scoops out a 12-inch black handled blade! Without saying a word, right in front of my face mind you, he quickly began sharpening the long shiny knife across the steel. I tell you, I could see the flash of quicksilver shavings, shimmer in the late afternoon sunlight, as they fell like tiny little welding sparks bouncing on the ground. Just twelve quick strokes, that’s all, but my heart was pounding out of my chest and like a rabbit in the headlights I was totally transfixed, waiting to see what he would say! But then, just as quickly, he simply popped the steel and the knife back into his belt, shook his head and walked away! I tell you I was so relieved, and I was angry as well. No, I was furious! I was ready for a fight, after all, I only wanted some directions and all he did, was sharpen a nasty looking knife right in front of my face.
Another time, I was bemused by events in my life and approached my “bestest” of all friends, my dearest wife, asking for her input and direction. Through her nostrils she sucked in a deep breath, tilted her head to the back and slightly off toward her right shoulder and said very slowly, right in front of my face even, “Well, I don’t know if I should respond. No, maybe you should speak to someone else. I don’t know if you’re ready to receive what I have to say. I don’t know if you would like it anyway.” Just a few quick sharp and shiny words, that’s all, but I tell you, my heart was pounding out of my chest and like a rabbit in the headlights I was totally transfixed waiting to see what she would say next. She said nothing! So I responded in quiet anger to her steel sharpening.
“Go on then,” I said. “Fire away, I’m ready, I’m up for it.” Then she tilts her head the other way this time and says, “Nah. It’s not a good idea really. Speak to someone else.” Nonchalantly like, she then just turns and walks away. I tell you I was so relieved, and I was angry as well. No, I was furious! I was ready for a fight, after all, I only wanted some directions and all she did was sharpen a nasty looking knife right in front of my face.
Like it or not, our response to important questions can be really threatening and offensive. Our lack of commitment to a correct and honest answer can simply make things worse. Our text for tonight is directly related to oath taking and points to the simple necessity of an honest, direct, unambiguous, guileless response to questions asked of us. I wonder if our text also indirectly points to the need for gracious but truthful answers to simple questions asked of us? I think it does and that being the case, some of you need to leave your steels in the kitchen and simply answer the questions asked of you! Speak the truth in love my friends but please, do not sharpen truth in someone’s face as it’s just plain wrong and so very, very provocative.
Listen: “These are the things you shall do: Speak each man the truth to his neighbour; give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace; let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbour; and do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate,' says the Lord.” - Zechariah 8:16-17 NKJV
Pray: Deliver me O Lord from the sound of sharpening knives, deliver me into truth and love and gracious peace, in Jesus name I ask it, amen!
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