I want you to discriminate. Discrimination is good. Discrimination becomes a bad thing when one discriminates on the basis of something dumb, like skin color. The late, great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said that he had a dream that his “four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” I whole-heartedly agree with this dream. It is God’s dream, and if no one ever gets away with anything, then no one ever gets away with racism and discrimination based on race or anything else subjective.
But discrimination is good. You must discriminate. If you are ready to get married and looking for who might be a good spouse, you had better discriminate. Take King’s advice and discriminate according to the content of a potential spouse’s character. If you don’t, not only will you suffer, but you will commit an injustice, and no one ever gets away with injustice forever.
How is that injustice? Because it rewards a person of low character with the honor of becoming your closest kinship, one-fleshness. It teaches them they can find a spouse and still be a horrible person. If you meet this person, you should not encourage them to keep being the way they are. God wouldn’t do that. God is just. If he were not totally just, he would not have sent his Son to take on the sin of those to whom he intended to show mercy. We are called to be merciful, because God is just, and no one gets away with anything. We are called to be just, because we are called to be like God. We are called to forgive, because God reserves eternal judgment for himself alone, and he does not want us to carry that burden.
What About Trust?
Whoever we come across should be considered a potential friend. What do we know about them? They are a human, so an equal in dignity. They are geographically close to us in that moment, so a potential neighbor/friend. They are either a brother, sister, neighbor (in the biblical sense), or enemy, so they are a person we should love. So is that enough information to know whether or not we should trust them? No.
No? Is that unloving? Not at all, but trusting an untrustworthy person is unjust. Did you know that Jesus did not trust people? John 2:23-24 says,
23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.
This tells us that Jesus, though he loved everyone, did not trust them. He did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. Wow! Gentle Jesus was under no illusions about the heart of man. He did not trust them, but he gave his life to them. And that is different. Does that mean that we should not trust anyone? No, it does not mean that, but we should trust only those who have proven trustworthy. Honest people deserve to be trusted more than people we know to be dishonest. This is just, and it is righteous, and breaking these basic laws will land you in trouble and enable someone else’s unethical behavior. That would not be godly.
And we ourselves should be trustworthy. No matter what it costs us. The outcome of the truth is always the right outcome. First, because God says so.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (Ex 20:16).
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices (Col 3:9).
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another (Eph 4:25).
Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out (Prov 10:9).
The book of Proverbs is full of wisdom about honesty. Furthermore, there are countless biblical narratives about a person who lies, and it always comes back. No one ever gets away with anything. Bending reality is not possible. The cost always comes.
But even if you did not believe in God, you should be truthful for the sake of practicality. There is a reason that all religions regard truthfulness as a virtue. There is a reason why you get upset when you feel you have been lied to. Simply, faking in any way denies what is actually real. Just because you lie about something doesn’t mean that the real truth ceases to be true. If you lie to your spouse about how you’re feeling about the marriage, the truth festers and keeps torturing you. If you lie on your company reports, the actual numbers are somewhere refusing to lie, and they will come back to haunt you. If you lie to yourself about your health problems, you will die young.
Another major cost of dishonesty is your own self esteem. Self esteem psychology gets a bad rep because of the ill conceived efforts of the education system of the last few decades to generate self esteem out of thin air. This phenomenon is itself a lie. Telling someone they are good when they are not objectively good, is a lie, and they know it, even if you have taught them to repeat the lie. This doesn’t work.
What we should be doing instead is teaching our children that they are intrinsically valuable to God because he created them in his image. But that doesn’t change the fact that there are ways to be judged in character, and the road to actual esteem for oneself is to travel that road honestly and courageously. Self esteem is a good thing, but free self esteem is a lie, and we all know it. You are valuable. God made you. That’s no small thing, and the fact that he made you in his image is a tremendous discovery. But, because you are an image bearer, you have to make choices concerning how to live, and you will hate yourself if you don’t choose righteousness.
It is true that many unfortunate children are taught that they are no good intrinsically. They had bad care-takers who tore them down. But these were also lies from the fools who we were forced to believe. It is this problem that the self esteem movement is seeking to correct. It is combatting the one lie, that you are a bad boy or a bad girl fundamentally, with another, that you are a good boy or girl, apart from anything you do or any character flaws. No, you are intrinsically valuable, but you must choose to be good or bad.
As Christians we know that the difficulty of the choice springs from the sin in our flesh. The first facing of the truth is to repent and turn to Jesus. He has paid for our dishonesty with his blood and made a way not only for us to be forgiven for it, but to become different. He has given us a new nature and the ability to change the habits of dishonesty that have so wrecked our self esteem. In Christ, we can learn to be truthful, and we will strengthen as we, like true image bearers of the I AM, make righteous choices that will impact our esteem of ourselves.
Tomorrow let’s explore further the idea that we don’t need to obsess about outcomes. Those belong to God, and as I’ll explain tomorrow, “The outcome of the truth is the right outcome.”