Matthew 22:18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me?”
These passages were chosen on the basis of God giving or providing things, but here Jesus gives a very astute, politically incorrect answer. These days it’s not considered polite to call someone a hypocrite, but Jesus certainly didn’t hesitate to call a spade a spade. The two verses ahead of this one are so oily you could lubricate your car with them! This is simply an illustration of the reality that it’s no use to try to deceive God. Of course, the questioners in this instance didn’t acknowledge that Jesus was God, so it perhaps wasn’t totally stupid for them to try to trap Him. However, we have no such excuse. Still, we attempt to deceive Him more often than we would like to admit. We do things thinking, “Maybe He won’t notice,” but when He keeps track of how many hairs we have on our heads, how could He not notice? (Matthew 10:30) Obviously, the biggest beneficiaries of honesty with God are we ourselves. When we try to deceive God we are opening ourselves up to the devil, who is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44) That never ends well! The thing is, we are far more likely to deceive ourselves than we are to deceive God. (James 1:22) Society often demands “white lies,” but giving in to that can be very dangerous. When we repeat something often enough we start to believe it, whether it is true or not. We aren’t to hurt others needlessly, but we are to speak the truth in love so as to build each other up. (Ephesians 4:15) We serve a God who cannot lie, and we are to be like Him.
I am deeply grateful that I was raised by a father who held to a principle of absolute honesty. Not long before he died he talked to me about the conference he attended in Yokohama as a single missionary, at which he had a powerful encounter with God. (I personally believe he was baptized in the Holy Spirit, but to my knowledge he never spoke in tongues.) He told me the speaker was talking about several “absolutes” we should have in our lives, but the one that really stuck with him was absolute honesty. Not that I think he was particularly dishonest before that, but from that point honesty became the bedrock of his life, which led to various other good things. For example, he was absolutely faithful to my mother until the day he died. With such an example, a similar life course has been relatively simple for me. I am dedicated to communicating the truth of God’s Word, but would be totally ineffective if I were less than truthful myself. People sometimes misunderstand me, but it is never by my intent. I occasionally mislead people deliberately in order to spring a surprise on them, but even so I won’t tell them anything that is flat out untrue. Life is much simpler that way, because I don’t have to remember what I’ve told whom! However, I must not let this be a point of pride for me, but rather be grateful that I know the One who is the Truth (John 14:6)
Father, thank You for continuing to work on and in me to transform me into the likeness of Your Son. (Romans 8:29) May I reflect Him more and more effectively to those around me to draw them to You, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!