The Truth about the Truth
Read the statements below, giving each a rating between 1 and 4. If you strongly agree, rate the statement with a ‘1.’ If you strongly disagree, rate the statement with a ‘4.’ Read each statement quickly and rate it with your gut reaction, not with what you think the correct answer should be.
- To err is human.
- You can’t please everyone.
- You don’t “have to” do anything.
- You are going to die.
- The virtue lies in the struggle, not the prize.
- You are not entitled to anything.
- There is no gain without pain.
- Emotional pain is good.
- Life is difficult.
- You reap what you sow.
Over the past few months, we identified many different types of lies we believe: self lies, worldly lies, relationship lies, distortion lies, religious lies and gender lies. We saw that embracing those lies cam negatively impact our lives, stunting our spiritual, emotional and physical well-being. But just as important as identifying the lies we believe is recognizing the truth.
Each of the ten statements above is a truth. Each statement deserves a ‘1.’ Look back over your responses and note how many you gave a ‘3’ or a ‘4.’ Each statement you disagreed with represents an area of your life that is at odds with the truth. And not believing in the truth negatively impacts our lives just as strongly as believing in lies negatively impacts our lives.
Over the coming weeks we will explore each of these truths in depth. Before doing so, however, we need to lay some groundwork on the essence of truth. There are certain realities about the nature of truth that we need to understand in order to move forward and successfully embrace the truths outlined above. So, this week we will explore the ‘truth about the truth.’
The Truth is a Prerequisite for Personal Growth
The basis for most emotional, mental and spiritual issues is the lack of truth. Without the truth, we are in bondage to relationship difficulties, emotional problems and spiritual turmoil. Think about it from a purely physical standpoint. If you fall and break your arm, you have a choice: to ignore the pain and carry on as if nothing happened or acknowledge that you’ve broken your arm and go to a doctor for treatment. If you ignore the pain, the arm will eventually set itself. But, it will not fully heal and you will continue to experience ongoing pain and limited use of the arm because it was not made whole. There are negative consequences to ignoring the truth of a broken arm. But if you go to a doctor, he knows how to set the arm so that complete healing is achieved. Later in life you will experience little or no pain and will have full use of your arm.
Ignoring the truth that your arm is broken only leads to more pain and it stunts the arm’s ability to function properly. Similarly, ignoring the truth in the circumstances of your life only leads to more pain and prevents you from living life to the full. Jeremiah 6:14 says, “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace, peace,’ they say, when there is not peace.” Circumstances do not typically change on their own. If you choose to do nothing about a problem, it will remain for as long as you ignore it. The only sure way to change your pain into gain and your sorrow into joy is to face the truth head-up and then start taking steps to resolve it. Then you can live your live to the fullest. In John 8:32, Jesus said, “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
The Truth Isn’t Ours
Who owns truth? The New Age movement would have us believe that truth is subjective – that what each person believes is the truth for them and that there is no absolute truth. That statement in itself, however, is an absolute. So, the logic does not hold up. The Bible tells us that God not only owns truth, but he himself is truth. In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” In the Old Testament, when Moses asked God what to say when the Israelites ask the name of the God who sent him, God responds, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” (Exodus 2:14) God is I AM. His being is TRUTH. Whatever God is and says and does is truth.
For sake of an example, think of truth as a 1,000 piece puzzle. However, we may only have 100 pieces of the puzzle. We see the truth of the pieces we are given but it is up to God to give us more pieces of the puzzle. And some pieces may never be revealed to us. Trust comes into play here. Even if we don’t know all the ‘whys’ or ‘whats’ or ‘whens’ of the truth, we know the owner of the truth and we can rely on him to provide us the pieces we need when we need them.
Yet there are still times when I believe I know the truth of a situation, only to find out later how wrong I was! Searching for truth in each circumstance may be the single most important contribution we can make to the situation. And God provides the truth in a variety of ways. Here are a few:
- His Word
- Direct revelation
- Our own experiences
- Experiences of others
- Counsel of others, books
It is ultimately up to each of us to decide if we accept what God has revealed as truth. He has given us free will not only for salvation but also for the everyday decisions of life. Each day contains a myriad of choices and we choose either to embrace the truth or refuse it in each decision. And it usually not on a conscience level that we make those choices. They are revealed by our actions, by whether we are live according to the Word of God or not.
The Truth Will Stand Forever
This is good news. The truth is not shifting sand. So many things in life change so rapidly, but the truth is the truth forever. It is a firm foundation upon which we can build our lives and make all our decisions. It is security and peace. There is no need to doubt our choices if we have made them according to the truth. No matter what the consequences of those choices appear to be on the surface, we know that we have made wise decisions when we base it on the truth. In 1 Timothy 3:14-15, Paul says, “Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”
The Truth Means Being Willing to Doubt
God made us in his image, including providing a mind with which we can apply reasoning and logic to the circumstances of life. This is apparent in his granting us free will to choose him or not, to believe him or not, to trust him or not. Healthy doubting means asking questions and exploring and discovering the truth for yourself. Do not blindly take anyone’s opinions as your own. 1 Timothy 4:1 warns us that “the Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21 says, “Test everything. Hold on to the good.”
The Truth has Barriers
The truth can be hard to attain at times due to certain barriers which we unwittingly raise against it. We all have life experiences and world views that color how we see the world. Sometimes those worldviews contain barriers than can be difficult to see, let alone break down. One of those barriers is prejudice. Prejudice is a pre-conceived notion. It is a question already answered. And when a question is already answered, we no longer explore the possibilities. In blocking out the possibility of alternative points of view, we block out the truth at the same time. To be sure we are attaining truth, we first need to explore any prejudices we may have acquired from our family, friends, neighborhood or our culture in general. Being aware of them is the first step in allowing truth to replace them.
Another barrier to learning the truth is our pride. When we are prideful, we arrogantly believe we already know the truth. When we accept something as fact, there is no longer a need to explore and discover truth. If there is an area that you feel you don’t need to explore – that is probably one of the areas you most need to explore! Have you really let God reveal truth to you or do you think you already know it and don’t need God or anyone else telling you differently? Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” And 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
The Truth Comes Piece by Piece
The truth comes to us bit by bit, one piece of the puzzle at a time. Learning the truth is no different than learning anything else. We explore, study, memorize and we slowly retain what we’ve learned. When my husband was learning the ins and outs of computers, he said that once he learned the basics, he saw that he could build on that knowledge little by little. He could transfer his knowledge from his work program to personal email and other applications on our home computer. Once you know that you can attach a file to a work program, you realize you can do the same thing on email. Knowledge and truth builds upon itself.
But we often fight against this reality because we want to learn everything now. Once we set our minds on something, we want it right away. We become easily frustrated and distracted when the truth comes slower than we planned. It is easy to become discouraged or distracted when we are in the midst of a trial and the truth about the situation is unclear. What we can do in that situation is place our trust and hope in God. “But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” (Romans 8:25). Not only in trials, but in all things, God promised that He will reveal truth to us.
It takes a lifetime to grow and learn and build on truth. Sometimes we simply need to give ourselves ‘permission’ to learn piece by piece and to be content with the truth we know today, leaning on His promise to give us more truth tomorrow. We can place our hope in the fact that tomorrow will be a good day because we will grow and learn again. And when we know that more will come, we can practice waiting patiently yet eagerly for it.
The Truth Often Leads to Pain
Sometimes the truth hurts. Using the earlier example of breaking an arm – to have the arm set is painful as the doctor carefully moves the limb into the correct position before creating a cast. Similarly, diving into the truth can initially be painful as it reveals the reality of our lives, ourselves or others.
In recovery programs, the first action is to ‘step out of denial.’ The reason we are in denial in the first place is that we do not want to face the pain of our situation. So, we cover the pain with a multitude of distractions and addictions. To stop the distractions means stepping back into the pain. That is difficult to do, but it is a necessary step in resolving the problem. A problem is not resolved if it is not faced. Yet we have a tendency to delay the search for truth until the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing.
And that is my prayer for us all. Even though it is difficult, I pray that God makes the pain of staying the same greater than the pain of changing. But along with that, I pray He clearly reveals the hope of the glorious consequences of walking through the truth with Him…that we may know in the depths of our hearts that the other side of valley is more than worth the walk.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20)
- The truth is a prerequisite for personal growth. Share a time when you did not initially accept the truth of a situation. What were the consequences?
- The truth isn’t ours. Are you willing to accept God’s truth even if it is not what you would like it to be? Why or why not.
- Alternative question: Do your actions reveal that you are living by God’s truth or by your own truth?
- The truth will stand forever. Does knowing that God’s truth is eternal bring security and peace to you? Explain.
- The truth means being willing to doubt. Is there a situation in your life that you are willing to re-examine to determine if you have been dealing in the truth? What would be a first step you could take to do so?
- The truth has barriers. Share a time when your prejudice or pride hindered your ability to see truth.
- The truth comes piece by piece. Do you have a hard time patiently waiting for truth – whether it is in the resolution of a situation, a desire to grow spiritually or the ability to learn a new skill? Provide an example.
- The truth often leads to pain. Have your tendencies to run away from pain ever prolonged a problem? Explain. Are you willing to accept the pain that exploring truth may bring?