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Live Transparently!
"Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light,
so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God"


John 3:21
Our world
is very aware of the corruption potential of human nature.
 
 
Early Christians were sometimes persecuted for 'cannibalism' and 'incest' by sincere and upright persons who believed rumours arising from a misunderstanding of the words used in celebrating the Lord's Supper, and because Christians called each other – even married couples – 'brother' and 'sister'.
 
 
Yes, there will always be some risk of misunderstanding, but it is our responsibility to keep it to an absolute minimum.
 
 
Money and sex are the two particular areas that easily arouse suspicion, because of their terrible abuse in our world, even among sincere souls in the church. It is important therefore to go the extra mile to avoid creating suspicion, not from fear of criticism, but for the sake of what Christians represent.
 
On the handling of money in the Christian welfare program, Paul explains as an example to us today:  
 
"we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men".
2 Corinthians 8:21
 
It is not enough to be honest! One must also be seen to be honest by the outsider, for the sake of this holy gospel that we represent.
 
The other
particularly sensitive area, easily contaminated with suspicion, is relationships between the sexes. For this reason the Word of God states:
"That each one of you know how to take a wife for himself in holiness and honour..."
(1 Thessalonians 4:4 RSV, read the rest).
 
 
Young Timothy is instructed to treat:
"older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity" (1 Timothy 5:2).
 
We
do need to cultivate relationships, including those with the opposite sex. But, tender feelings cry for confidentiality in a relationship. And this very secrecy, so natural to a relationship in which intimate feelings of affection are developing, is itself a potential breeding ground for problems in self-discipline. We, to easily, loose our safeguards when the fellowship of others is excluded from the growth of one-to-one friendship between sexes.
 
 
All the confidence that we may have in an individual does not mean confidence in our common human nature; that so easily turns a good thing into a bad. Avoid exclusivity in a relationship outside of marriage! Exclusivity is part of marriage. 
 
 
A refusal to shut out others from a relationship that may even be heading toward marriage will really help to keep that precious relationship open and useful to the Lord, and prevent that pre-maturity which robs and brings shame. If God is in it, let it be open to the light!
 
However,
the need for transparency must not lead us back into the naiveté of spiritual infancy. There is a limit to transparency. As part 3 explained, we must not lay ourselves open to untrustworthy persons - but we are to act straightforwardly, without deviousness. Openness does not mean telling everything to everybody - pouring out one's heart or mind to others for the sake of sincerity or openness. That is the foolishness of spiritual infancy.
 
 
Transparency means demonstrating that one's life is not a threat to others; that there are no hidden motives that might deprive or hurt those with whom we have to do. It also means trusting others on issues to the extent of their reliability. The goal that we are to aim for is to live in relationships that can handle complete transparency. At times, that may even mean being vulnerable toward another for the sake of communicating love, paying a price to reach out with healing grace.
 
 
But, in all things, wisdom must deal with reality, by balancing these four important practical principles.

 
  Conclusion  
The
above four principles of conduct:
boldness  –  vigilance  –  distrust  –  transparency
– are qualities of practical wisdom. Wisdom is always practical, because wisdom is problem orientated. 
 
 
Knowledge tells us 'what' and wisdom tells us 'how'. Knowledge without wisdom is like a gold ring in a pig's snout. It is wasted.
 
Wisdom
is the life-application of knowledge! For this reason, the answer to a problem is invariably found in the problem itself. Therefore, to run away from a problem is to run away from its solution also! 
 
A
piece of history from the Bible illustrates these four principles, and how the answers to life's problems are actually composed of the constituents of those problems.
 
 
In the reign of emperor Xerxes of Persia, a genocide of the Jewish people throughout the vast territories of the empire was imminent (from India to Ethiopia). Nothing could prevent it, not even the emperor himself, for a law of the Persian empire when once signed could not be revoked even by the ruler who issued it.
The problem needed an urgent answer, or hundreds of thousands of men, women and children would die, and those who escaped would be brought to ruin. Was the situation hopeless?
 
Not to Mordecai the believer!  
 
In the book named after his adopted daughter, Esther, the drama is spelled out. Haman, the evil mind behind the planned genocide, had originated his plan because he found Mordecai's refusal to bow before him offensive, and in his pride needed retribution. So the evil plan was hatched against Mordecai's people, the Jews.
 
 
Now note, as this problem had initiated in reaction to Mordecai, so its solution would also!
Esther had been chosen as new queen after an empire wide beauty contest and her race was not known, as Mordecai in wisdom had guided her.
 
  Mordecai now approached Queen Esther (Esther 4:1-14).  
Note how
these four principles above are echoed in Esther's approach to the problem.

 
It's in the Bible
to teach us how!
An empire wide massacre faced Esther and her people. It was legally impossible to stop!
It's in the Bible
to teach us how!
By law, even the Medo-Persian emperor himself could now not stop it!  So..?
How does
she then respond (when she could have just kept her Jewishness hidden)?
1. 
boldness
In Esther's approach to the emperor she expresses her attitude as –
"if I perish, I perish" (Esther 4:14).
2. 
caution
The Bible says that –
"Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background" (Esther 2:20).
3. 
distrust
Having not even seen the emperor for a month, Esther did not raise her problem immediately, in spite of its desperate urgency. Distrusting even his loyalty to herself, she simply invites him to dinner, and then, at that meal, again invites him to dinner. She tries to create the best possible climate for the best possible answer, before she asked – with what incredible results!
4. 
transparency
Note also, her openness of character. 
Mordecai had previously overheard an assassination plot and told Esther. When she reported it to the emperor, the Bible says that she did it –
"giving credit" to Mordecai (Esther 2:22).
Her honesty made it easy for people to trust her. She even invited the emperor's favourite officer, the evil Haman, to dine with his majesty, and then made the request for the lives of her people in his presence.
Facing
an
international
genocide
of
all
Jews
God gave
such a victory, that – the victims become the victors!
"For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honour. ...And many people of other nationalities became Jews"

Esther 8:16-17
This
story shows us the 'how' of a desperate problem. 
 
So
when God seems to have abandoned us (remember, God is deliberately not even mentioned in the whole book of Esther), and so our problems seem beyond help – the practical principles of this wisdom will open the way forward –
IF we face the problem!
 
 
If you are unsure of what to do in your own circumstance, about how to apply these principles, ask God! He said so! (James 1:2-17). 
Be
strong therefore – and the Lord will be with you.
 
 
These truths are for our lifestyle – not simply for special crises and specific problems. 
 
 
The Proverbs' quote at the very start of this article (of wisdom personified as a woman) assures us of God's design for our lives if we live accordingly:
"Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honour" (Prov.3:16).
 
 
Wise conduct is the qualification.
 
These
principles are for our Christian conduct in this present world, of which Jesus said – "Night is coming, when no man can work" (John 9:4).
In
other words, our opportunities are not forever, opportunities to practice these truths and learn wisdom will end.
Then, our accountability for the results of practicing these principles, or otherwise, will begin.
 

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