Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have relieved me in my distress;
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.
O sons of men, how long will my honor become a reproach?
How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception? (Psalm 4:2)
How long will we love what isn’t worth seeking? Why do we focus on what doesn’t matter? Perhaps because we think it matters. But what matters to us doesn’t necessarily matter to God…except that He is invested in us. Our concerns matter to Him because their ours, but if we let Him do our prioritizing, we’ll find that we’re not putting at the top of our lists what needs to be there and what we have there needs to be knocked down a bit or off the list altogether.
We have poor aim because our target is off. If we aren’t aiming at the right thing, we’ll never hit the right thing. At what are you aiming?
The psalmist refers to aiming at deception, so let’s start there. Deception draws us away from truth. It is untruth. Aiming at deception is actually pretty easy, because it’s everywhere. It can be a complete untruth or a distortion of truth. It can a deception sundae, based in truth but sprinkled with deception—or vice versa, so that the first thing you see and taste is truth but as you dig deeper, you find deception.
We don’t seem to struggle with deception nearly as much as we struggle with truth. It seems truth offends more easily than deception. We don’t like to be told there’s an absolute. We’d rather argue and share our opinions. We want to share our personal experiences that override someone else’s point. We want to find the exception. As the psalmist says, we love what is worthless, aiming at deception.
Sometimes we don’t want to offend others, so we take a soft approach to sharing truth. But is there a soft approach to sharing truth? Truth is truth. When it’s diluted, it’s distorted. Distortion is deception. I suppose the “soft” approach to truth really does exist. It’s speaking the truth in love. It’s a willingness to listen and share as God guides instead of as we prefer. It includes respect. But don’t be mistaken: just because truth is spoken with love and respect doesn’t mean it will be easily received, and it’s not always easily delivered. It can be offensive. It is convicting.
But it’s not offensive and convicting because of how we handle it (at least, it shouldn’t be); it’s offensive and convicting because of God moving through it. Sometimes He whispers; sometimes He shouts. When God uses us in those conversations, we don’t always understand someone’s response. We think they over-react or under-react. We think they respond with indifference and what we shared didn’t have an impact. Or we think they’ve responded with such anger that we’ll never get to have another conversation.
When we distort truth because we don’t want to offend someone, we’re still offending someone: God. We’re loving what is worthless and aiming at deception. We’re cheating God, and in the process, we cheat ourselves out of an authentic relationship with Him.
If you focus on deception, you will rarely discover truth. It simply doesn’t stand out, because when deception becomes the standard, everything can be rationalized as faulty. When you focus on truth, deceptions stand out. Truth is the measuring stick by which everything else is compared. Aim for it and get God. When you love what God says is worthy, you will stand on solid ground and aim at a solid, central target.
Dear God, show me Your truth. Reveal the distortions and deceptions at which I’m aiming. Help me to recognize where I am standing on shaky ground and aiming at anything unworthy. I want to love only what is worthy as You assess.