What do entrepreneurs do when they pull up a carrot and discover that there is only one inch of carrot for every ten inches of carrot greens? They market the half-grown carrots as baby carrots! Marketers know how to position products so that consumers see products in the best light possible, even overlooking some obvious flaws or deficiencies.
Christians sometimes do the same thing. We might tell a close friend that we “tell white lies,” “lose our temper,” or “struggle with temptation.” But we would hesitate to tell anyone that we cheat on our taxes, yell at family members, or look at impure images.
The truth – the whole truth and nothing but the truth – is sometimes too painful. Just as it is easier for the media to talk about ethnic cleansing (systematic mass murder of an ethnic group) or pregnancy termination (intentional murder of an unborn child), it’s easier for us to talk about devotional struggles (regularly skipping private devotions) or backsliding problems (relapsing into sinful habits). It is just easier to hide behind fancy words, abstract jargon, and politically-correct euphemisms than to own up to reality.
Yet change requires honesty. If our goal is to conceal our sin and just get through life as best as we can, then this kind of figurative language makes sense. However, if we desire to be cleansed from our sin and walk in growing holiness before God, these fig leaves must go. We must cast aside all man-made bandaids and blankets and cast ourselves on God’s grace, recognizing the seriousness of our sin and our serious need for grace.
Yes, there is a time and place to use gentle, figurative language. But there is also a time and place for extremely honest and even blunt language, especially when examining our own hearts before the Lord. Let us not be like those who call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20) Instead let us be honest with God, with ourselves, and with others about our sin and our daily need for grace.