There’s an old African saying that goes, “The truth is like a reed. You can plunge it deep into the river, but it will always rise back to the surface.”
Paul says something similar to the young pastor Timothy when he writes to encourage him to watch his life closely. We may think we are doing a good job of hiding our sins, Paul cautions, but they probably aren’t nearly as hidden as we think they are. And even when they are concealed for the present, he warns, they will eventually be brought to light.
The good news is that this characteristic of the truth works two ways. The truth about our sins will be brought to light. But so will the truth about our good deeds.
Sometimes it’s easy to see a person’s good deeds. But at other times, they are not so readily evident. Paul assures Timothy that the faithful, good things he is doing to serve his people will eventually become apparent. Good deeds may be hidden for a while, he asserts, but they will not remain hidden forever.
There’s both a caution and a confidence-boost in these words.
The caution is for us when we think we can keep our secret sins hidden. This may lull us into thinking that we can keep on sinning without remorse and we don’t really need to repent and struggle to overcome our sins. Paul urges us to think ahead to that day when our secret sins are not so secret anymore.
On the other hand, there’s a confidence-boost for us, too. No one may seem to be noticing our sincere desire to do what is right, or seeing our gospel-motivated work for the glory of God.
We may not even want or need that recognition — after all, our goal as Christians is simply to thank our Savior for his grace and forgiveness. Nevertheless, Paul wants us to know that even when our good deeds are not immediately obvious, they will at some point be recognized.
Its just like the old African saying states: The truth will always rise.
So be cautious. And be confident.
“The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever” (1 Timothy 5:24-25, NIV).
Lord Jesus, I am a sinner. Forgive me for my many sins. I am also a believer who sincerely desires to do what is right in your sight. Grant me grace and power to align my life to your holy will. Help me to take both warning and comfort from knowing that the truth always rises to the surface. Assist me to guard my heart and watch my life closely.
Our Bible reading for Tuesday, October 20, is Jeremiah 43:1 – 45:5, 1 Timothy 5:1 – 6:2 and Psalm 119:65-72.