To explain my absence yesterday, I was summoned for jury duty. To borrow from Eric Matthews of “Boy Meets World,” there is a “cornucopia” of personalities represented at these events. I was fortunate enough to sit beside a couple of interesting folks — ironically, I was privileged enough to be in the presence of fluent f-bomb speakers as I passed the time reading my Bible.
After involuntarily eavesdropping on their conversation, I learned that one of the guys makes a significant amount of money driving trucks — he gave a likely exaggerated report that he makes about $12K a month. This information seemed useless until about 90 of us (including this gentleman) entered the courtroom to briefly discuss the case, which we soon discovered would be no less than a month-long trial, and the judge dismissed a sizeable group of people on hardships. The man stayed behind to plead his case for hardship, saying he was not being paid to be there and he couldn’t afford participating for the duration of the trial.
While I am not entirely familiar with his personal situation, the evidence in his candid conversation didn’t line up with the half-truth he spoke to the judge. But if he really did tell the truth to the judge, he probably wasn’t being honest with his friend.
We are a nation of people almost wholly dependent upon reputation. We desire to come across a certain way to people to be impressive or to get our way. Our presidential candidates completely ride on this notion, if you haven’t noticed already.
Do we have to be subject to this?
The book of Proverbs bulges with wisdom, including concerning this very topic. How are we to respond to a society so bent on image?
1) Favor honor. (v. 16) Work hard, and save your money. But never let money represent your character. If your income is your marker for how awesome you are, you’re doing it wrong.
2) Favor mercy. (v. 17, 19) Our competitive society encourages crushing the competition and squashing the character of our neighbor to appear better. But this behavior will gradually cause us to deteriorate from the inside. [truism alert]: You are what you eat.
3) Favor transparency. (v. 18) Doing the “right thing” never looked so good. The quick way to riches is to put on the persona and brown nose your way to the top, but the true reward is in investing in righteousness — and it’s so rare that you’ll get respect pretty quickly.
4) Favor purity. (v. 20) Captain f-bomb doesn’t look very cool. If you’re into that, quit it: it’s annoying to people around you, and it’s also obnoxious to God. And it’s not really about the cursing, but the condition of your heart — have you had your heart serviced lately?
5) Favor hope. (v. 21) The verse here states that the legacy of a righteous person will remain intact, even if the majority is looking stronger or better. Wouldn’t you like to be remembered as noble rather than a jerk when it’s all over?
As a Christian, you have a different calling. We’re some of the more deceptive types of people, wearing garments of smiles and “I’m okay” cloaking sin rotting us from the inside out. We shouldn’t be afraid to be more transparent — if you have lingering issues, share with someone already — and be honest. It’s the hard thing to do, but really, it’s also the cool thing to do.