Clear Intensions

Honesty is the best policy. Always be clear in your intensions when interacting with others.

Dining table

I am reminded of when some people I met in passing, a couple, invited me to visit their home for the afternoon. I had recently moved into the neighborhood. I had not started my new job and had not met anyone in town yet. They were friendly people and wanted to extend their friendship to me. I accepted the invitation to spend the afternoon with them. We had a great time. We shared appetizers and enjoyed a very fine bottle of wine. At some point, I glanced down at my watch and noticed it was approaching 5:00 P.M. In my mind, that meant it would soon be dinnertime, and I felt I should leave so the couple could start preparing dinner.

I thanked them for a beautiful time, and just as I was standing, the wife
said, “No, please, sit. Stay a while longer.”

“Oh, thank you,” I said, “It’s almost dinnertime, and I really should be going.”

“No, please,” the husband said, “Join us for dinner.” And, the husband looked at his wife for confirmation.

The wife confirmed with a resounding, “Yes. Please stay.” She continued, “I have a nice beef stew cooking in the crockpot, and I already made cornbread for dinner, so there is plenty of food for all of us.”

With that, we moved into the dining room. The husband graciously pulled out a chair for me to sit and he poured a glass of wine for me to enjoy while he and his wife went into the kitchen to prepare dinner.

But here is where the story gets sticky.

I overheard the wife ask her husband, “Why is she still here?”

To which her husband replied, “Well, you invited her, dear.”

“She’s eating up all of our food!” The wife made it sound like I was an uninvited guest.

At that point, it was a little bit awkward for me. After hearing the couple’s conversation, I wanted to change my mind about dinner, but before I could say anything, the husband entered the dining room and set out the dining wear. Following him, the wife arrived with a tray that held a large serving bowl of the beef stew. She retreated back to the kitchen and then returned with a little basket of cornbread. The husband said grace. Afterward, I served myself a small portion of stew and half a serving of cornbread. After all, I didn’t want to eat up all of their food.

Can you imagine what was going on in my head during that meal? I sat wondering where I might have misunderstood the wife’s invitation. I asked myself whether she genuinely invited me to dinner or pretended to be polite in asking, and I should have been polite in declining the offer.

Before I could take my last bite of food, the husband proceeded to pour another glass of wine, but I opted for a glass of water instead. I was preparing for my exit and did not want to be rude by leaving a freshly poured glass of wine, and much worse, eating and leaving too quickly, as social norms dictate that we should not eat and run. Nevertheless, the tension in my head was mounting. I could not wait any longer to get out of that house. And so, by social principles, I probably egressed too soon because after taking a couple of sips of water, I rudely glanced down at my watch, made up some phony excuse for leaving, stood up, and tried to sound as gracious as I could as I headed toward the front door to leave.

Where am I going with this story?

I think I am telling this story to say that confusion sets in, and feelings get hurt when we are not clear with our intentions. When unambiguously this couple invited me to dinner, they actually wanted me to leave. When I made a motion to go, they should have allowed me to leave. Instead, they encouraged me to overstay my welcome. I do not believe they intended for me to overhear their little kitchen conversation, and I do not think they intended to hurt me. I think their ultimate goal was to make me feel like they were overly hospitable entertainers. On the other hand, I should have been mindful of their time and left when I felt my time was up.

Let your yes be yes

The bible teaches us much about being forthright and sincere. It teaches us
that we should refrain from lying or being deceitful.

The Lord asks us to live a life of honesty when dealing with our spouses,
children, workmates, neighbors, in essence, all people with which we come in contact.

Scriptures about being forthright

The following scriptures are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise stated.

Proverbs 24:26
26 An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.

Matthew 5:37
37 “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ be ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

1 John 3:18
18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Proverbs 6:16-19
16 There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

Matthew 7:16
16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

Ecclesiastes 7:20-22 (Good News Translation)
20 There is no one on earth who does what is right all the time and never makes a mistake. 21 Don’t pay attention to everything people say—you may hear your servant insulting you, 22 and you know yourself that you have insulted other people many times.

Keep it real

It is a fact that none of us are perfect. We quickly and easily slip into sin, sometimes before we are even aware of it. We all sin, and, thankfully, we are saved by the great, forever grace of God.

Being dishonest is a sin.

That couple who invited me to stay for dinner should have been forthright and clear in their intentions. If they did not want me to stay for dinner, they should not have invited me. And, truthfully, I should have been more honest too. I should have just gone home like I wanted to. My inner voice told me to leave, and if I had been honest with myself, if I had been honest about how I truly felt, then goodwill would have served all.

I will try harder to listen to my inner voice, which frequently when the voice speaks for good, how amazing it is that it tends to be the voice of God.

My dear friends, for a life filled with goodness and peace, it is wise to stay real, stay honest, and stay in the word of God.

Always remember that when you fall short of your goal to live upright, our God is a loving and forgiving God. Take your shortcomings to the Lord. Ask Him for forgiveness, and God will give you forgiveness without hesitation. And just like that, your inequities are wiped away, and you are as good as new.

May you walk in righteousness, knowing you serve the most powerful and mighty God of the world.