Editorial: The Refreshing Candor of God

It isn’t usually given its own chapter in books on the attributes of God, although it fits within His truthfulness. But I continue to be amazed at the candor of the Lord. None of us would be Christians had He not told us clearly in His Word that we are sinful, guilty, condemned and facing everlasting punishment. We would never have trusted in His Son without such plainness of speech. It is obviously for our benefit that God is so candid.

He was candid with Abram when He made a covenant with him. Wonderful promises were given to him, but his seed would not see them fulfilled for a very long time (at least 400 years). And it would be a very difficult time as they would be enslaved and oppressed in Egypt first (Gen 15:13).

God was candid with Moses when those 400 years had passed. It was time for God’s people to flee from Egypt, but the Lord said to Moses, “I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go, not even under force” (Exo 3:19).[1] The Lord even informed Moses that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart so that he wouldn’t let the people leave (7:3)! Moses was to expect difficult opposition. It required many plagues and many confrontations with Egypt’s monarch before God’s promise was ultimately fulfilled.

Speaking of hardened hearts, the Lord’s frankness can also be seen in Isaiah’s call, who responded to the divine challenge, “Whom will I send? Who will go on our behalf?” with an enthusiastic, “Here I am, send me!” (Isa 6:8). Then the Lord told Isaiah that his mission would essentially harden his generation, not save them. We would likely ask the Lord for a more inspiring assignment.

Christ’s message to His own before leaving was remarkably blunt. They were already reeling from His announcement that He was departing. But then He told the disciples they would be persecuted (Joh 15:20) and put out of the synagogues (16:2). He even talked about their being killed (v2)! But He did so for their benefit: “I have told you all these things so that you will not fall away” (v1). God’s candor is always for our benefit.

Scan the many pages of the New Testament and you will discover that nearly every book mentions hardship that God’s people were experiencing or would soon face. Why should we expect things to be different for us today? Indeed, “all who want to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2Ti 3:12). Paul and Barnabas didn’t conceal this reality to even brand-new Christians: “We must enter the kingdom of God through many persecutions” (Act 14:22). And notice that they said this to “strengthen” and “encourage” them. Such transparency was for their good.

The main lesson from God’s candor is that we can always trust Him. What we can anticipate is all out in the open. Every potential difficulty and discouragement are spelled out in detail. False gods flatter, entice and conceal the real truth. The God of the Bible makes and delivers promises which come with refreshing honesty about what we can expect. And a God who doesn’t hide the tough stuff from His people is One we can definitely trust.

[1] Scripture quotations in this article are from the NET.