Zechariah 7:9-10 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.'”
Here we have another statement of God being concerned with the behaviors that come from the heart. Also, once again the Japanese uses “integrity” to translate what the NIV renders as “mercy,” but then it uses “mercy” where the NIV says “compassion.” That goes to show how subjective those things are, as well as the difficulties in going between languages. The one line that really jumped out at me was the very last one: “In your hearts do not think evil of each other.” Again the focus is on what is going on inside of us. We think we hide things well, but we can’t hide anything from God. Jesus was very specific on this point. (Matthew 10:26) When God asks a question it’s always rhetorical, because He already knows the answer. We can use various tricks to hide things from people – assorted computer security techniques come to mind – but none of those make any difference to God. He knows if you’re cheating emotionally on your spouse, for example, even before you’re consciously aware that you’re doing it. The Lord said something very important to/through Jeremiah: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10) God knows whether our actions are sincere or a sham; we do far better at deceiving ourselves than we do at deceiving Him.
Yesterday someone paid me a very high compliment, essentially saying that I was always sincere, treating everyone the same and not putting on a front for anyone. I was touched, because that is certainly how I try to live. At the same time, as I told them, it’s not necessarily wise to “let it all hang out” all the time. I don’t want to lie, ever, but I don’t always have to say everything I know. If I don’t feel good about someone I don’t have to blurt it out, but I do need to lay it before God and ask Him what to do about it. If confrontation is called for, I’m not to draw back from that, but as Paul said, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18) I am never to nurse hatred or other evil against anyone in my heart, just as God says through Zechariah here. Kind behavior comes from personal integrity, and that comes from fearing the Lord.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the honesty of that person with me as they spoke of the temptation to lie to make things easier for themselves. Thank You that I could point out that telling the truth is always easier in the long run, regardless of the immediate blow-back, because we don’t have to worry about remembering what story we told whom. Help me be an example of personal honesty and at the same time encourage others that they can live the same way, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!