Newsman Brian Williams has been the news himself, lately, because some of his claims have proven to be lies. Notable among these is his claim to have come under gunfire while traveling to a story. Since then he has been the butt of many Internet jokes. He has also been suspended from his job on network television.
Mr. Williams is successful in his career without doubt. He has been on television for years. Why would he lie? The reason is that, even with his success, he wants to appear more than he is. Not satisfied with being a reporter, he wants to have risked great danger to get a story. It is the hallmark of the great reporter.
There is a Brian Williams in all of us. We all want to appear more than we are. Men and women lie to each other to appear more attractive. People at reunions lie to each other about their success since high school. Resume fraud is an epidemic. Politicians lie about their experience and qualifications.
This is not new. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees in the New Testament for this. He called it hypocrisy. For example, in Matthew 23:1, Jesus said "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat so practice and observe whatever they tell you-but not what they do. For they preach but they do not practice".
How do we avoid this sin? It is all about where you seek your since of significance. We all want to have significance. Many seek it at work. They work hard, but still may not feel significant in their workplace. So they lie about it, making up stories or exaggerating accomplishments so that their co-workers will think they are more important than they are.
The Pharisees drew their significance from their position in Israel's religious community. They had power and influence. It was a big deal to become a Pharisee. To enhance their position, they spoke great words. The problem is they did not practice their own preaching. They were morally and spiritually bankrupt on the inside.
The key to avoiding this sin is to find your significance in Christ, in your relationship to Christ. If you are a believer, you have the great privilege of knowing God and being known by him. Jeremiah 9:24 says "let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD...". Paul quoted this verse in 1 Corinthians 1:31.
Of course, when we center ourselves in Christ, we know we have nothing about which to boast. We were saved by grace, not by works. (Ephesians 2:8-9) God did it this way on purpose, so that we would not boast. Boasting is precluded. Humility and thankfulness are mandatory.
While we cannot boast, we can rejoice. Paul tells us to rejoice in the Lord. (Philippians 3:1) Rejoicing replaces boasting.
Nothing matters in comparison to knowing Christ. If we do not know Christ, all we have done will pass away into nothingness. If Brian Williams does not know Christ, his status ultimately means nothing, whether he took gunfire or not. If he does know Christ, nothing else matters, for he has all he needs.
For Christians, the greatest temptation probably lies at church. We want to look like we have it all together, that we are spiritual, and that nothing bothers us. We are Pharisees. Instead, let us be honest about ourselves and let others be honest also. Instead of boasting of our supposed spirituality, let us be humble, open, caring and repenting.
But in doing so, let us rejoice. Let us have real joy. For we know Christ and he knows us. We belong to him. Our future is bright. Our future is secure.