I don’t often mention my grandchildren when I am writing articles, but today is an exception. My first grandchild and my first granddaughter entered the 8th grade this year. She has discovered Science. She loves it. The Science teacher has already started chemical experiments which she loves. One day he asked who knew the definition of transparency. My granddaughter answered quickly and correctly. I’d like to say she takes after me, but science was not my strong suit. Now I was good with words and their definitions so maybe she did take after me a bit.
Hearing the story about my granddaughter and her knowing what transparency means fascinated me. Transparency according to my Thesaurus means clearness, sheerness, clarity, direct and obvious. Transparency is one of those words I think is fun to say. In simple terms, to be transparent means to be able to see through something, to be clear about something. This morning I turned on my Christian radio and what do you think they were talking about…transparency. I am now convinced someone needs to hear the words God has given me today.
Personally, I don’t think Christians are transparent enough. We might be with close friends and family, but in church, Bible Studies, one on one with others in the church or even in some Sunday School Classes I am not sure we are. Now I want to interject something here. I am not talking about you sharing your most intimate details with others, or those deep dark secrets, or your deepest desires. What I am talking about is those little sins that we have trouble with daily. I think we are quick to bury them when we enter the doors of our church. We think others are perfect and we need to be too. We struggle with letting others see us as God sees us. We are fearful we won’t be loved, we will be laughed at and we are fearful others will turn it around and gossip about us.
Harvey Deutschendorf, an emotional intelligence expert, internationally published author and sought-after speaker says this, “Keeping our ideas and feelings private when we first form relationships is a good idea, but as the relationship develops, we need to open up.” If we want to build trust and relationship with others we must be transparent.
Being transparent is a positive thing for a couple of reasons. When others are transparent with us we begin to realize others struggle with the same issues we have. When we are transparent with others it frees us from guilt and holds us accountable. As we discuss and share our struggles we find ways to help each other through those struggles.
Most of us are comfortable in going to our church, our friends or a class and let them know we are dealing with health issues, but seldom do we go to church and talk with others about the sin we struggled with last week. Seldom do we talk about the pull some sins has on us. Seldom do we admit we are a sinner. We are often embarrassed to admit we deal with sin in our lives. We think because we have been in church all of our lives we should have this sin thing under control. That is so not true. As long as we are in this world we will be tempted with sin.
When we begin to open up and admit to the sin we deal with daily in our lives it frees us from guilt. We no longer have to feel guilty because we quickly learn others have had to deal with it in the past or are dealing with it now too.
It can also hold us accountable. When we have admitted to having sin in our lives others will step in and hold us accountable in a loving Christ like way. As we become transparent with one another we can begin to lift one another up in prayer daily. If a friend comes to me and shares with me they have to be careful with drinking too much I can daily lift them up in prayer asking for the Holy Spirit to intervene on their behalf. We can work together on accountability and work through this struggle.
Romans 3:23 tells us, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” All of us, including myself deal daily with sin. Romans 7:15 tells us Paul struggled with the same issue, “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” We all have things on a daily basis that we have to deal with. Not one of us is sinless. When we begin to share our sin with others they will see we are human too and struggle. Yes, our image of Sainthood might be in jeopardy, but we will begin to develop lasting relationships.
Being transparent helps others understand us better. If I know you’ve lost a child then I might understand why your heart breaks more than others when a child dies or is tragically lost. If I know that you struggle with alcohol then I might be more careful about the restaurant I invite you too, or I might not offer wine or beer to you if you come to my home for dinner. I will not cause you to sin instead I will find ways to help you deal with your sin.
By being transparent with me I might be able to share with you that I had that same struggle and give you ways I overcame or I might tell you I am having the same problem and suggest we work together to find a solution.
Being transparent can make us vulnerable, but when we place our struggles in God’s hand and ask him to lead us to those who can help us through our struggles or temptation we begin to develop deeper relationships and love toward one another. When we begin to open up and be transparent with others it will help others know there is hope. We will be there to offer encouragement, hope, and support for those who are struggling with what we have dealt with.
I do want to add one thing more. When someone is being transparent with us they might have been led by God to share with us. They have put their trust in us. It is our duty to hold that trust dear. It is not a time for us to gossip with others; it’s not a time to make you shine. It is a time to care for others more deeply than you. It is a time to help others on their journey and it’s a time to keep all that is shared close to your heart and only share with God as you pray for each other.
It’s so easy to keep things from others. It’s so easy to let others think we have no temptation in our lives, and it’s so easy to pretend everything is fine, but it’s when we become transparent with others and open up to others we begin to have a relationship with those God has brought our way.
Are you willing to be transparent today and let others know what you are struggling with? Are you willing to share how you have come through some tough temptation you know others are struggling with? Are you willing to be vulnerable so others may come to know Christ’s love, grace and mercy?
Dear God: Sometimes it’s not easy being transparent. I don’t want others to know about the temptation or struggles in my life. I don’t want others to know the real me. I fear they may not like the real me once they get to know me. But, you have called me to be vulnerable so I may help others in their struggles. Give me the wisdom to know who I need to be transparent with and give me the wisdom to know when others have decided to be open with me. Let me hold those things near my heart and prayerfully consider how I can help. I love you Lord and I want others to know of your love and grace and if I can help them through some struggle or temptation then let it be Lord. Amen.