Seeking and Speaking Truth: Not For the Faint of Heart

person-2694459_960_720Our words have meaning. They reflect what we agree with. And agreement is a powerful thing. Yet often taken casually. How different the 1940’s would have looked if no one had agreed with Adolf Hitler. The question is, how do we know what to agree with? What is true and good and just? We all need a plumb-line. Something bigger than ourselves that we can depend on to tell us what is true. And what truth applies in a given situation. Our own perceptions of truth can get skewed by a lot of things. Our emotions. Prejudices. Lies we believe. Our own vulnerabilities. God knew were were going to need something to anchor us in truth. So He gave us His word…the Bible. John 17:17 says, “…your word is truth.” The same thing that is true for me is true for you. The Bible is absolute, unchanging truth. For me. For you. For always. If we seek to know truth, God’s word is where we build that foundation. We cannot hope to speak truth to others until we know what truth is. There’s no short-cuts here. It starts with disciplining our lives. Building time in the word into our day. This is where we develop the ability to discern the difference between the truth and lies. Good from evil. Right from wrong. Then comes the hard part:

Speaking the truth even if it looks as if it will cost you everything. This is where we count the cost. It’s easy to agree with truth when we’re sitting in our easy chair reading the Bible. It’s another thing to agree with truth when we’re out and about with people. People who don’t always agree with truth. How we respond matters. Our words matter. Heaven is watching. Malachi  3:16 says,

“…those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.”

Oh, that such a thing would be said of us.  That when God overheard our conversations He would be so pleased that He recorded our words. While we don’t need to live in fear of saying the wrong thing, we do need a healthy awareness that what we condone with our words matters. It’s a healthy thing to regularly assess our words. Ask ourselves if our words agree with what we value. Do our words agree with God or oppose Him? If someone were to read a written script of the words we speak, what conclusions would they make? Would they conclude that we agree with the word of God? Or that we stand opposed to it?

Agreeing with truth in a day when it isn’t always applauded takes courage. It takes intentionality. Truth will protect us. Picture truth as a belt that holds our spiritual armor in place. The belt of truth is listing in Ephesians 6: “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…” This passage on the armor of God is a metaphor. It is the picture of a soldier, dressed and ready for battle. There is a practical side, however, in how we wear the belt of truth. What does that look like? It means that when we find ourselves in a situation where we are tempted to lie, we tell the truth. When we are tempted to suppress truth, we tell the truth. When we’re tempted to deceive, we tell the truth. It means that we do whatever it takes to walk in truth. And sometimes that can be Soooooo humbling.

It all started with a small lie. It seemed so insignificant. But I let it slide. Then came the next lie. By the third or fourth lie, I was beginning to be concerned. I felt the Holy Spirit convicting me. Urging me to confess. I knew in my heart that God was saying that confession was the cost of breaking this sin off of my life. I wrestled with God. It felt so humiliating. While I knew that it wasn’t God’s desire that I feel humiliated, I also knew that He was not going to let my conscience rest until I obeyed. So I did. I went to my boss (yeah, MY BOSS! Ughhh…) and told her the truth. Yes, it was embarrassing. Yes, it was hard. And yes, it broke the pattern of lying off of my life.

This is what it looks like in practical terms to “put on the belt of truth.” It means we speak truth. We own truth even when it’s hard. We love truth more than our own pride.

Speaking Biblical truth out loud: the atomic bomb in spiritual warfare

Truth is how we overcome the temptation to sin. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He was physically weak from having fasted for forty days. He was thirsty. He was hot and deprived of the basic comforts of life. It was at this physically vulnerable moment when the devil pulled out all the stops. He tempted Jesus in the place where He was the most vulnerable: food.  Matthew 4:3 says,  “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” If ever there was a time that Jesus needed a POWERFUL weapon, it was now. He didn’t use human reasoning. He didn’t use worldly strategy or positive thinking.  He quoted truth. Biblical truth. Out loud. Jesus showed us what it means to wear truth when He answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Whether our struggle is within our own thought life or in our relationships with others, speaking truth is an essential piece of our armor. Speaking truth is more powerful than thinking truth. Why is this? Perhaps because faith comes from hearing. 

Truth: A hard dish to swallow without love:

When speaking Biblical truth to others, there is one thing others simply cannot tolerate. Especially if it convicting truth:  Judgment. Judgment that is rooted in pride, self-righteousness or criticism. This type of judgment is not loving. If we cannot share truth without condemning judgment, we’re better off keeping silent. Do we still need to judge right from wrong? Absolutely! We just need to do it from the right position: a lowly one. A humble one, watching ourselves so that we do not offend unnecessarily.

May our words be seasoned with grace, speaking the truth in love,

Arlene

 

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