Transparency is a buzzword today. It is thrown around in all spheres from business to ministry as something crucial for leaders. Yet, in Christianity, transparency is needed for all believers and not just in leaders. So much of the talk and teaching on transparency is truly just honesty, and not actual transparency. So what is the difference between transparency and honesty and how do we move past an honest life and into a transparent one?
Honesty is when we are asked about something and we tell the truth regarding that thing. Honesty is when you are asked about bending the truth in the past and saying sorry when you are caught. Living transparently is regretting what you did and owning up to it. We must look at why it is that living honestly is not enough for believers, but rather we should strive for transparency.
Transparency before God marks a life of repentance.
First, we should be transparent before God because a life marked by transparency before God is a life marked by repentance. Yes, it is true that God already knows our hearts and actions beforehand. The author of Hebrews tells us that “And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account” (Heb 4:13, NRSV). Living transparently means living vulnerably and openly before God. However, just remaining in a place of transparency is never enough. A truly transparent life, as I previously said, is marked by repentance. The idea of repentance in Scripture carries two meanings.
In the Old Testament, repentance is the idea of returning to where we belong. In the New Testament, repentance is a transformation of our mind and a changing of the way we think (we see both ideas in Jesus’s parable of the Lost Son).
Repentance is us returning to God through the renewal of our mind by the Holy Spirit.
Living transparently is not living a life where we say, “yea I am a sinner, but God knows that, so it is okay.” A transparent life is one that says I am a sinner and I know that. Yet, I am so deeply loved by God that he sent his son Jesus to die for me on the cross. So even though I am going to fall short, I am going to choose daily to die to myself and live for Christ. I am going to submit to his Spirit’s work in me and through me. This is a life that is lived transparently before God. However, it goes further than just living transparently before the Lord.
We are also to live transparently before people.
Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.James 5:16
Notice, this verse does not say to admit our sins to one another as if we just own our sins when confronted. Rather, we are to confess them. To tell on ourselves. But why should we confess our sins before one another? I can think of several reasons.
- We bear each other’s burdens (Gal 6:2)
- We comfort one another (2 Cor 1:4-7)
- We encourage one another (1 Thess 5:11)
- We forgive one another (Eph 4:32)
- We care for one another (1 Cor 12:25)
- We weep and rejoice with each other (Rom 12:15).
Living transparently in our community also prevents us from forming a holier than thou mindset where we come off as elitists towards non-believers for the faith we have that they do not. It is a life that tells others we are both broken people, but I know the one person who can restore your brokenness. A transparent life does not run from other people’s flaws or condemn them, because they recognize their own. Instead, they show the love of Christ and shares that love with those hurting around them.
A transparent life is necessary for believers. Transparency is needed both before God and before our brothers and sisters. Living honestly is not enough. A transparent life that leads to repentance is what believers are required of.