God’s Not Sneaky by Larry W. Peebles March 10, 2017 17.08
We were snowed-in for the weekend. Our daughter, her husband, and three children had come to the mountains to visit my wife and me in hopes of catching some predicted snow. We were all hoping for enough snowfall for a good play day. Shortly after they arrived on Friday night, right on cue, it began to snow. By Saturday morning, 3 inches had accumulated, enough to spend the day outdoors sledding, hiking, and building a snowman. It was truly a great family day.
By Sunday morning the snow that melted Saturday had turned to ice overnight, leaving a mixture of snow and ice on the slippery mountain roads. In town, ice had blanketed the church parking lot, and services were cancelled. We would have to conduct our own worship service right here in our home on the side of a mountain. Our daughter’s oldest son and I played some worship songs on our guitars, and everyone joined in the singing. Then I spoke to all the grandchildren about how the snow and ice had changed the mountain. The snow and water had seeped into cracks in the rocks, frozen and expanded, and had popped off the face of some of the rock. I suggested they might see evidence of that when they were able to drive home later in the day. It might be small signs of a mountain changing, but over long periods of time, this is how mountains erode and become smaller.
I went on to tell them that even if the mountains change, God does not change. He promised in His word that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. I asked them to name some things they knew about God that do not change. My granddaughter said His love for us does not change—He always loves us. The older grandson said His power does not change—He is the most powerful force in the universe, and can do anything. Then the youngest grandson, age 5, said something very profound. He said “God’s not sneaky.” He never tricks us. Being the youngest, his brother and sister may play tricks on him, and maybe I joke around and tease with him more than I should, but God does not.
Let’s study what came from this young boy’s mind and heart. As I think about God’s not being “sneaky”, I can easily find these three characteristics of God that make Him “not sneaky”. There are more, to be sure, but these came rather easily.
He is always truthful.
God is so full of truth that He only tells the truth. He cannot lie. John 1:14 says Jesus was “the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” In fact, Jesus was not just full of truth, He is the truth. Truth is not a philosophical concept, it is the very person of Jesus. In John 14:6, Jesus answered “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me.” Jesus admonished His followers to “let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’, and your ‘no’ [be] ‘no’”. Matthew 5:37. We are to be truthful so that others can count on our word, just as we count on, depend upon, and trust in God’s word. We find in Scripture seven things that are detestable to God (Proverbs 6:16-19)—two of these are “a lying tongue”, and “a false witness who pours out lies”. Both of these are “sneaky.” When we are not truthful, we are not only disappointing God, we are moving toward becoming like the devil. Scripture says he “was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native tongue, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44). It would be hard to make it any plainer than that. Just as Jesus can only speak the truth, the devil can only speak lies. We want our native tongue, our heart language, to be the truth. In this way, we operate in the image of God, our Creator.
There is another simple explanation as to why God cannot lie. It is because of the creative power of His words. In Genesis we understand that all creation came into being (from nothing) when “God said”. When He said “let there be light”, there was light. He spoke creation into being. If He said one’s hand was green, would that be a lie? No, because when He said it, the hand would become green. He cannot lie. When He says it, it is. What He says manifests.
He always does what He says He will do.
In Genesis 18:14, God promised Sarah, age eighty-nine, a son—“Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.” Abraham, her husband was already ninety-nine when the promise was given. A year later, Isaac was born to this couple, who from a reproductive standpoint, were already thought to be dead in their bodies. (Genesis 21:1). Not only can God do what He wants, He does what He says. Numbers 23:19 says—“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?” Psalm 89: 8 and 34 taken together read—“O Lord God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you. You will not violate your covenant, or alter what your lips have uttered.” Then Isaiah 55:11 says—“My word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty [void, powerless], but will accomplish what I desire, and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” [Insert mine.]
He is not a God of empty promises. When we want to reinforce a promise, we might say “I give my word.” Jesus is the Word of God. (John 1:1). When God gives a promise, He has already given His Son. In Psalm 138:2, we see that God places such a high importance on His word (doing what He says He will do), that He places His word above His name. His word is magnified in importance above His name. Without the integrity of His word, He does not have a name. It should be no different for us. We make a name for ourselves with the integrity of our word. If we say it, we must do it.
His plan is always for our good.
When my wife and I started our juvenile justice ministry, which lasted for fifteen years, we asked God what He wanted us to tell the young people held in maximum security in the juvenile justice system. We felt strongly we were to tell them two things. First, God loves them no matter what they had done to break the law. Second, God still had a good plan for their lives. Those two simple statements guided our messages and prayers for the young people as we visited them on a weekly basis over the years. God is a good and loving God, and His unwavering intentions and plan for our lives is good. Jesus provided another sharp contrast between His purpose and that of the devil in John 10:10—“The thief [devil] comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” [Insert mine.] Jesus came that we might have full, abundant life. Jeremiah 29:11 says—“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and to not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” The devil wants to harm; God’s plan is for a life full of hope for the future. As He says in 2 Chronicles, He is always looking for ways to help strengthen His children in whatever they face—“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (16:9). His plan is not that we would come up short, give up and fail. His plan is that we would succeed and accomplish every good purpose for which we were uniquely created-that we would reach our God-given destiny.
So out of the mouth of a child comes this truth: God is not sneaky. Indeed, He always speaks the truth, He always does what He says He will do, and He always plans for our good. There is nothing sneaky about it- we can depend on that. We should aim for no less from ourselves.