To Be A Nathanael

Does anyone want to live a life
that is long and prosperous?
Then keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies! Psalm 34:12-13 (NLT)

My children love being asked Bible trivia. Rob and I try to read each night from the Bible, firmly believing that a love for the Word of God is the most important gift we could ever give to our three babies. My eleven year old asks for "really hard," my ten year old asks for "medium hard," and my soon-to-be eight year old asks for "just a little hard" questions. It has been a joy to watch them mull over a question and have them shout out the answer with a grin on their faces. Although they think that it is a game we play, Rob and I know better. This "game" played on our king-sized bed before we end the day is really preparation for the spiritual battles they each will face in adolescence and adulthood.

I once asked my children who the Biblical character Nathanael was. They had heard of the prophet Nathan in King David's time, but they puzzled over Nathanael. I went with them to John 1:45-49, the reference in Scripture that gives us the most information about Nathanael. Although he became one of the twelve men who was called by Christ to be a disciple, Nathanael is barely mentioned throughout the rest of the New Testament. I never remember a Sunday School lesson on him as a young child. Yet, this rather obscure man had said over him what I would want Christ to say over me more than anything else. "When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, 'Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.'" (John 1:47)

I have thought over that commendation of Nathanael by Christ over and over again. I think I admire Nathanael so greatly because this tongue of mine has gotten me into so much trouble. God hates falsehood. There is no such thing as a "white" lie. Sin is as black and horrible as it can possibly be. Yet the scary thing is that my heart and mind can justify lying or exaggerating, especially if I don't believe it will hurt anyone and it is just making the story sound better. I love a good storyteller. God, however, doesn't need my help to embellish something that has happened. In fact, when I do that, I am starting to see that I take away His ability to use my "boring" story for His glory. When I add my own exaggerations, all He is left with is a lie. He cannot bless that.

Sometimes I wonder if Nathanael wasn't heard of more in Scripture because he didn't open his mouth very much. Maybe a painful episode of stick-his-foot-in-his-mouth made him shy away from using the muscle lying between his bottom teeth too much. Perhaps he remembered the following words of the wisest king of Israel:

"Even a fool is thought wise if he silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue." (Proverbs 17:28)

I do well when I remember that there are no shades of truth in a lie--it is a lie, plain and simple.

Jesus, You know how I long to hear those words You said over Nathanael said over me. Please help me to remember how valuable truth is in Your sight. Your Word is truth. You cannot lie to me, not ever. Please help me, my Jesus, to guard my tongue today.