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Monday, August 1, 2011

What I Tell You in the Dark: God and Secrets

"What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs" (Matthew 10:27 NIV 2011).

God and Secrets

When I read this verse, I see a clear statement that God has nothing that He wants to hide.  God has told us all about Himself and His past, present, and future intentions toward mankind in His written Word.  In fact, God didn't just tell us once; He had people write it down for posterity, so that what He had said in the past could be compared to what He is still doing.

In that area, the Bible isn't a private letter; it's more like a public, legally-binding document.

On the other hand, there are secrets that God knows, and chooses to reveal only to specific people at specific times, for His own purposes.  For instance, God chose to privately reveal to Mary and Joseph the truth about the boy they hadn't yet welcomed into the world.  He did this to comfort them, and to take away doubt and fear that Satan could put into their minds without this reassurance.  As far as I understand it, these private messages were just between them and God until they chose to share the story with Christians, years later, after Jesus was raised from the dead (Luke 2: 19).

So we see here the precedent that God makes and keeps confidences, but even those, when revealed later, are without sin or shame.  God has no "dirty little secrets," and He doesn't share things He would be embarrassed about, should they be revealed, even when He does take someone into His confidence (Matthew 12: 15-21; 16: 15-23).

People and Secrets

Meanwhile, most people have plenty of secrets that would destroy them, should they be brought out into the open.  I can remember, at one point in my life, how the words "I'm telling!" were possibly the most frightening words in the English language.  The fear originated from a clear understanding that I had something to be ashamed about, or something that made me eligible for punishment.

The problem with human secrets is that too often they are just that kind--shameful and punishable.  If all of our secrets were the kind that God demonstrated for us by His own example, we wouldn't have a thing to fear!  Instead, we choose a fear that we can't outgrow; the secrets just get bigger and uglier, and so do the repercussions. We give gossips an almost godlike power to destroy us, when they could be silenced by a pure and godly secret--because of course purity is not juicy enough for gossip.

The verse just prior to the one at the start of this post reads, "So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known" (Matthew 10: 26 NIV 2011).  No one is afraid of having a pure, good secret revealed, and those without ugly secrets are not afraid of a gossip.  I gather from this that Matthew 10: 26 is a warning that God does not protect ugly secrets, nor will He allow gossips to hold power for eternity.  The fact is, the days of evil are numbered, and one day the security that evil feels will be wrenched away by God's sense of justice.

If we have an evil secret, it is time to get rid of it, and conform our secret lives to the pattern of God.  He knows all of the truth already, and it's only a matter of time before He reveals the truth to others.  This is why the Bible advises us, "Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy" (Proverbs 28: 13 NIV 2011).

If we have evil secrets today, it is important to get rid of them before they cause us harm, as they are promised to do.  God is merciful to the repentant, and even gossips move on to better targets.  This is one thing God has told us "in the dark," but that we should "proclaim ...from the roofs": We don't have to live in fear, and we don't have to bear the burden of an ugly secret forever.  There is healing for a repentant heart.

So today I am sharing with you that great "secret" of Christianity.  Find mercy and safety from fear in Jesus' sacrifice.  Run from ugly secrets and follow His pattern of living, so that you will always be secure.  Be savvy!