Every morning I have a date with my bathroom scale. Some days it makes me smile. Other days, I'm sad. So I need comfort food. Like donuts.
But years ago, our son had an unusually uplifting scale. He was working in youth ministry on a reservation and living in a trailer. He urged Karen and me to weigh on his scale in the morning. Karen was thrilled - she'd lost 15 pounds in a day! And so had I! Of course, we got wildly different results every time we weighed.
Oh, how I wanted to believe that scale. But no matter how welcome the news is on a wacko scale, it won't fool my heart or my hips. Or my doctor, for sure. He's got one of those "whole truth, however ugly" scales. And there, in numbers that will drive you to lunches of celery and water, is the truth. The inconvenient, but uncompromising, truth.
And then there's the Bible. The scale that doesn't lie. "All Scripture is inspired by God" - in the original language, "God-breathed" - "and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives" (2 Timothy 3:16).
Here's the problem. Many times God's Book doesn't tell us what we want to be true. It tells us what is true. Like it or not. Often, not.
I call it inconvenient truth. Where the "lying scales" often tell us what we'd like to be true. And Scripture tells us truth that means we need to change.
It may be the inconvenient truth about marriage or divorce. About what it means to be a husband. A wife. A parent. About sex or forgiving or our money. About loving our enemy or blessing those who curse us. About Jesus being the only way to God. Our responsibility to the poor. Or prejudice, or an unwanted pregnancy. About reconciling...loving our enemies...being unashamed of our Jesus. About the very origins of us and our world.
Somewhere in a list like that is bound to be some divine truth that makes us squirm. That may mean changing. That may mean paying a price.
So, the temptation is to try to do an end run around what God has said. And all across the Christian landscape, people are twisting and turning, rationalizing and redefining to create a loophole that just isn't there. "Times have changed." "Well, if you understood the culture when that was written..." "God is love - He would never be like that."
The idea: if you're out of bounds, just move the boundaries. But God's not moving. "Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens" (Psalm 119:89). Cultures change. Polls change. God's Word does not. It's just always the truth, whether millions believe it or no one believes it.
Telling someone the truth - especially if it's unwelcome truth - is not unloving. Oh, it can be delivered unlovingly, as all too often it is these days. But parents know that loving your child sometimes means giving them truth they don't want to hear. But they need to hear. About playing in the street...bad friends...Internet relationships...texting while driving...sexual predators, charmingly disguised. We love them enough to tell them the truth.
That's how much God loves us. He sees the big picture, where certain choices end up. His boundaries aren't to deprive us. They're to protect us. That's why compromising His life instructions is patently unloving.
In a Roman prison, awaiting execution, Paul pens what will be his final written words. To Timothy, a young pastor and his beloved "son in the faith." He includes a sobering warning. About "lying scales."
"A time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear."
That's convenient truth. Funny thing about the real truth, though. It will always be true. And one day, I'll face the scars and regrets - and even judgment - for embracing a comfortable lie rather than the uncomfortable truth.
So, as our culture, our friends, our mentors, even some spiritual brothers and sisters find a scale that means we don't have to change, God's word to His faithful ones is clear. "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of...you have known the Holy Scriptures...and all Scripture is God-breathed" (2 Timothy 3:23-24).
In other words, don't try to move an island closer to your boat. Move your boat to where the island is! Because the island isn't moving.
The stormy crosswinds of conflicting ideas and moralities are intensifying to hurricane strength. Without an anchor, we can be blown out to sea. I thank God, there is one anchor that has held firm through every storm, for every generation. The unchanging, forever true Word of Almighty God.
So each day, when I weigh my life, my priorities, my choices, I'll stick with the Scale that will always tell me the truth. Even when it hurts.