We must be entirely without guile, as Nathanael was

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From “Growing in the character of a disciple”: Chapter 9 – What is ‘the love of the truth’ and why does truth matter so much to God?

One of my heroes in the Bible, whom I would most wish to be like, is Nathanael. We rarely hear of him. But he was singled out by Jesus who especially commented on Nathanael’s lack of guile. Evidently, Jesus considered that absence of guile to be remarkable, presumably because it is so rare:

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And he found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Beth-sa′ida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathan′a-el, and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathan′a-el said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 4Jesus saw Nathan′a-el coming to him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile

John 1:43-47 (RSV)

In saying that there was no guile in Nathanael Jesus meant that he was entirely without pretence or hypocrisy. There was ‘no side to him’, as the saying goes. Nathanael was the type of man who really meant what he said and said what he meant. He did not have hidden agendas or ulterior purposes. If he wanted something he would openly and honestly say what he wanted and why. He would not trick or manipulate people. Neither would he use anybody.

Above all, being without guile means that we are ruthlessly honest with ourselves and about ourselves. A guileless person, when he reads about certain sins or faults in the Bible, or hears them spoken of in a sermon, readily accepts that those sins are to be found in himself. And he knows that the main reason those sins are mentioned at all is to enable us to see the same sins in ourselves. He then directs his mind to himself and the way in which he exhibits those sins. He does not assume that he is without those sins and that they are only to be found in others.

Guileless people are sincere and genuine and have a quality of innocence about them. They are tender rather than hardened and the truth really matters to them. The following two references in the psalms refer to this kind of person:

3 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?
And who may stand in His holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul ]to falsehood
And has not sworn deceitfully.
5 He shall receive a blessing from the LORD
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Psalm 24:3-5 (NASB)

How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit!

Psalm 32:2 (NASB)
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