Guile is defined as “the use of clever and usually dishonest methods to achieve something.” It is an old-fashioned word, but it is a contemporary reality. So many people in this world are simply not to be trusted.
Two psychologists working in the same building rode the elevator together for a few floors before one got off. “Good morning,” said the exiting doctor as the doors closed behind him. The other doctor was heard to say, “Hmmmm. I wonder what he meant by that?”
The Toxic Environment
Living or working in a place where we are sure that what is going on is not really what is going on, we have learned to be untrusting of others.
- Is their smile and friendly nature an act? –A clever ruse toward some unspoken end?
- “I wonder what he/she meant by that?” is the subtext of every conversation.
- Most of the reading done in such an environment is done in between the lines.
- Plans are really plots.
- Mumbling is the music in the background and accusing looks fly across the work space like silent arrows.
- It is not the tasks but the tension that makes work or life so exhausting.
This atmosphere is poison to breathe, staining our lungs and starving our blood of clean oxygen.
Cleaning up the Atmosphere
What is the Christ-follower to do? Jesus must be able to say of us what He said about Nathaniel when He called him to be a disciple: “This man has no guile in him!”
This is our chance to be a witness, a living, breathing—real—Christ-follower. Jesus said we should just tell the truth: “let your no mean no and your yes mean yes.” Doing this simple thing we set us apart in the toxic space.
- We will contribute to peace, not war.
- We will encourage and never discourage.
- We will turn the other cheek and go the second mile and give more than is required.
- Above all else we will tell the truth or we will say nothing.
- Our voices will be known for Gospel not gossip.
- We will mean what we say and say when we mean.
- The spaces between the lines of our speech will be empty of subtext. No one will have to wonder “What we meant by that.”
Guile breeds darkness—the darkness of fear and trepidation—and waste—wasted time and resources. Guile is a distraction. While we watch our backs, who is minding the store, running the machines, manning the presses and guarding the doors?
It may seem there is little the Christ-follower can do to change such an environment. We need to figure things closer:
- Survival is an achievement.
- A sweet spirit is a grace from God.
- A clear conscious and restful sleep are causes for rejoicing.
We may not change the whole place, but there will be co-workers who turn to us for inspiration, “How do you do it in this place?”
The only answer is one that can change their lives forever.
Psalm 15:1-6; 24
Lord, who may dwell in your tabernacle? who may abide upon your holy hill?
Whoever leads a blameless life and does what is right, who speaks the truth from his heart. There is no guile upon his tongue; he does no evil to his friend; he does not heap contempt upon his neighbor. In his sight the wicked is rejected, but he honors those who fear the Lord. He has sworn to do no wrong and does not take back his word. He does not give his money in hope of gain, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. Whoever does these things shall never be overthrown….Whoever offers me the sacrifice of thanksgiving honors me; but to those who keep in my way will I show the salvation of God.”
Psalm 32:2; 34:12-15; 55:9-11 KJV
Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.
… for I have seen violence and strife in the city. Day and night they go about it upon the walls thereof: mischief also and sorrow are in the midst of it. Wickedness is in the midst thereof: deceit and guile depart not from her streets.
Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!
1 Thessalonians 2:3-4 KJV
For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.
1 Peter 2:1-3; 3:8-12 KJV
Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious…Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
Matthew 5:33-37 NKJV
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.
Song without Guile
Keep Me True
Keep me true, Lord Jesus, keep me true.
Keep me true, Lord Jesus, keep me true.
There’s a race that I must run.
There are vict’ries to be won.
Every hour by Thy power, keep me true.
© 2016 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved