He swears to his own hurt and does not change…(verse 4c).
Spiritual formation for the disciple of Jesus is the process of our transformation into the image of Jesus (Romans 1:1-2; 2 Corinthians 3:18). As new creations in His New Creation there is a working out of His image in fellowship with Him. We are complete in Him (Colossians 2:10) and yet we are not yet experientially all that we shall be (1 John 3:2); who we are is not yet fully expressed. Christ works on us and He works in us, the Potter's hands mold us from within and without.
Psalm 15 is a psalm of spiritual formation, it begins by asking, in essence, “Who will live in intimacy with You, O Yahweh?” From that question proceed inward attitudes and outward actions; or we might say we see a correspondence between the inner man and the outer man, between the heart and mind and words and deeds.
While the psalm presents a holistic picture of the man or woman or child who lives in intimacy with God, the picture of telling the truth to one’s own detriment is one that should particularly elicit our attention in a society and a church in which spin is valued over truth, a society in which people do not say what they think in order to get what they want, or to avoid “confrontation”, or to escape unpleasant consequences, or to sidestep an acknowledgment of sin and avoid repentance – the list could go on.
And yet God is light and in Him is no darkness at all, God is Truth and He has never lied, Truth is His essence, though His essence is beyond comprehension and our words are finite – there is a fundamental contradiction when a professing Christian lies in any fashion, it is not only sin, it is a repudiation of the nature of Christ which lives in us, it is a rejection of Jesus and His lordship, it is the creature rejecting the Creator, the child rejecting the Father, the disciple rejecting the Teacher. And yet rather than seeing the stark divide between Light and darkness we excuse and rationalize lying.
Do I love the truth, do I love my relationship with God, will I obey Christ to the point of my own detriment? Will I tell the truth even though hurtful consequences may follow? Obedience not only can be costly, obedience is costly. If we are not paying a price for obedience in some area of life it is doubtful that we are growing in Christ, after all, the Cross is an instrument of execution and it is the Cross to which we are called.
The idea of telling the truth to one’s own hurt is a short-tem proposition with both a short-term and long-term gain. Yes there may be immediate hurtful consequences to telling the truth, but there is also an immediate escape from the temptation to lie and a consequent acknowledgment of Jesus Christ as Lord. The long-term gain is that our hearts continue to be molded into His image; the direction of our lives, the maturation of our hearts, the words we speak, do not change. Is intimacy with God more important than perceived short-term gain that can be obtained (we think!) by telling a lie?
We are called to tell the truth, to act the truth, to be the truth, because our God is Truth and we are one with Him.