Sunday, November 6, 2016

Day 192: John 18:19-27 & Psalm 75 - Why Does Evil Prefer to Act in Secret?

Today's Reading: John 18:19-27 & Psalm 75

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Why Does Evil Prefer to Act in Secret?

“I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” - John 18:20-21, ESV

Jesus offers such a contrast with the operations of the Jewish leaders. He spoke openly in the synagigues and in the temple. He taught large multitudes and always said exactly what He meant. The Jewish leaders, on the other hand, preferred to act in secret. They conspired in hished whispers in the shadows. They sent questioners to challenge Jesus, pretending to ask sincere questions while intending to trip Jesus up when He answered.

Those who are doing right and speaking the truth have no need to be ashamed or to hide. They can speak clearly and openly, saying exactly what they mean in front of a watching world. Jesus exemplified this. It's not that He wasn;t careful, wise or nuanced in what He said. He was sensitive and spoke accurately, insightfully and creatively, but He never pretended to be something He wasn't. He was never two-faced, hypocritical, insincere, manipulative or scheming. 

We can do some honest self-evaluation by asking ourselves who we more closely resemble, the Jewish leadership or Jesus? Here are some self-diagnosing questions we can ask to check ourselves:

1. Do we tell people what we think they want to hear instead of the truth?
2. Do we pretend to agree with someone just so they'll like us when we don't really agree?
3. Have we been guilty of telling someone one thing to their face and then saying the opposite behind their back?
4. Do we ask people questions in order to try to trap them or manipulate them? 
5. Do we engage in gossip in order to undermine someone's position or authority?

If we find that our pattern of speaking and relating does resemble the Jewish leaders more than Jesus, we need to then have the courage to ask ourselves why we're doing this. Usually, deeper sin issues will be underlying such behavior. Do we fear the reactions of others if we do speak the truth? Are we trying to protect or promote ourselves? Are we people-pleasers or pride-driven manipulators? 

Once we have uncovered our deeper sin issues, then we have good news: If we confess our sin, He will forgive us and cleanse us. (1 John 1:9) If we admit we have used our words to manipulate and self-promote and deceive, Jesus is the truth who can set us free. Only in Jesus can we be freed to speak the truth in love for the glory of God and the good of our neighbors. 

Prayer Based on Psalm 75:

We give thanks to You, O God;
    we give thanks, for Your name is near.
Jesus dwells in our hearts by faith
    by the indwelling of Your Holy Spirit.
We recount your wondrous deeds,
   the great salvation You have worked for us
   and applied to our needy souls.

Lord, You speak and say to us:
“At the set time that I appoint
    I will judge with equity.
When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants,
    it is I who keep steady its pillars. 
I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’
    and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn;
do not lift up your horn on high,
    or speak with haughty neck.’”

For not from the east or from the west
    and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,
but it is You, O God, who executes judgment,
    putting down one and lifting up another.
For in Your hand, O Lord, there is a cup
    with foaming wine, well mixed,
    the wine of judgment and wrath
and he pours out from it,
    and all the wicked of the earth
    shall drain it down to the dregs.

But I will declare it forever;
    I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
Jesus has drunk the cup of wrath for Your people, O God.
All the horns of the wicked You will cut off,
    but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.
And we give thanks to You, O God,
   for it is only by Your grace and by the righteousness of Jesus
   that we are the righteous who are saved and not the wicked who are condemned.

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