Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. Ephesians 4:15 (NLT)
Have you ever heard someone say, “Everyone has their own truth?” What exactly does that mean? Logically, if that were true, the case could be made that there is no truth, no objective standard to anything. The opinion is confused with truth. Everyone may be entitled to their own opinion, but that does not make it true. When someone advocates that “everyone has their own truth,” you could interpret it as saying, “there is no objective standard by which we can judge the truth.” But is that true?
Can someone deny truth even if it is standing right before them? Pilate was in the presence of Jesus when he asked, “What is truth?” It could be that Pilate knew he was standing in the presence of the divine, but he refused to admit it because everything would change if he did. The truth is not spoken because people do not know what truth is. But instead, they do not speak truth because it is inconvenient.
Our postmodern culture would have us believe that everyone is entitled to their own version of the truth with equal legitimacy. Uncertainty about truth is a smokescreen that will not withstand scrutiny upon close examination. Paul speaks to our current situation accurately: They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. Romans 1:25 (NLT)
Truth does not hide from view, but it does disrupt self-serving agendas.
The Whole Truth
I never shrank back from telling you what you needed to hear, either publicly or in your homes. Acts 20:20 (NLT)
When I was a young man, I encountered a Navy chaplain who freely admitted that there were certain verses and passages of Scripture that did not support his doctrinal views. His solution was to highlight those verses in blue, essentially obliterating them from his Bible. Thomas Jefferson created a Bible omitting miracles and anything supernatural.
Today, pastors and church leaders may not be as evident as the chaplain or the third president of the United States, but they are selective in the “truth” that they preach and teach. They choose popularity over faithfulness to the Word of God. It is not easy to be counter to the culture. Jesus said: What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God. Luke 16:15 (NLT)
We live at a time when there is an open assault against God’s truth. Men and women of God, it is not sufficient to preach and teach a part of the truth. We have a responsibility to God and those for whom we are responsible to declare all the truth in the Word, not just those portions less likely to offend.
The Loving Truth
If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:2 (NLT)
The world is hostile to the truth. The great danger we face in bringing truth to the world is the potential to become hard and unloving. Jesus “came to his own, but they did not receive him,” yet there is never a hint of bitterness or coldness toward people.
Common phrases that we read associated with Jesus include: “he was moved with compassion” or “he felt sorry for them.” In some ways, it would be easier to stand up like an Old Testament prophet and declare the judgment of God over a lost world than to speak the truth in love.
Loving people that do not deserve it is not an easy calling. We must remember that God (and others perhaps) loved us before we became lovable. The great test for Christians of any age, including our present time, is to keep loving people in the face of rejection.
God Loves the World (And so Should We)
The only way that it is possible to have that kind of love for a lost and dying world is for us to be convinced of God’s love for us and to allow his love to flow through us. We cannot do it on our own. We need the fellowship and encouragement of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Jude put it this way:
But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. Jude 20–21 (NLT)
If we adhere to this admonition, we receive the promise of being “safe in God’s love.” However, it is not for the purpose of being isolated or insulated from those around us. We are safe in God’s love so that we can: …show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. Jude 22–23 (NLT)
Speaking the truth will never be easy because people do not want to acknowledge the truth, even as in Pilate’s case, when it is standing right in front of them. Finally, the truth is not our doctrine or teaching; it is Jesus: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 (NIV)