“A Look at the Heart” #4 – To Tell The Truth

27 Apr

Do you remember the old television show To Tell The Truth? Three persons stood before the camera and solemnly declared “My name is _________.” All three claimed to be the same individual. The point of the 30 minute show was for a panel of three people to ask them questions and decide which of  the three was the real person compared to two impostors.

The more successful their deception, the higher the prize money.

Tell the truth now — do we always tell the truth? Think of some oft-told lies in our society that go like this:
– The check is in the mail
– I was only kidding
– I’ll get right on it

It’s frightening how easily and automatically a lie can spring from our lips.

Truth in the flesh
Jesus often used an expression both in his conversation and his teaching: “Verily, verily” he says…those words are translated I tell you the truth in some translations.

It was not intended to be an idle boast but those words pointed to a primary objective of Jesus’ mission: in the midst of human confusion and misunderstanding, Jesus came to tell the truth.

And He lived that way to the extent that it He could say in John 14:6:  “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Paul’s words were equally strong when the faithfulness (truthfulness) of  God was questioned, in Romans 3:1-4: “What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? {2} Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God. {3} What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? {4} Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.””

We live in a day when it’s hard to know who we should believe. We’re skeptical of the media…the politician…the scientists….are we skeptical of the elder or minister?

The fact is, most are wary about the trustworthiness of many around us because “we’ve ben burned in the past.” People often use careless words or practice deception. They certainly make and break promises regularly!

Isaiah 59:15: “Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice.”

George Washington, we are told, could not tell a lie. Abraham Lincoln would walk five miles to return a nickel that wasn’t his. But in our time the level of public trust in what we hear from our leaders has eroded.

I have learned only as an adult that I have watched a TV show for decades that has in it the biggest liar ever presented: Andy Griffith. It’s amazing how often he lied in that show! It’s no different today – many of the most popular shows are presenting lies being told.

“On the cover of your Bible and my Bible appear the words “Holy Bible.” Do you know why the Bible is called holy? Why should it be called holy when so much lust and hate and greed and war are found in it? I can tell you why. It is because the Bible tells the truth. It tells the truth about God, about man, and about the devil. The Bible teaches that we exchange the truth of God for the devil’s lie about sex, for example; and drugs, and alcohol, and religious hypocrisy. Jesus Christ is the ultimate truth. Furthermore, He told the truth. Jesus said that He was the truth, and the truth would make us free.”

“Truth is narrow. If we were hiking and came to a wide river, and we learned that there was one bridge, down the river a mile or two, we wouldn’t stomp in disgust and moan about how that was such a narrow way to think and that the bridge should be right there, where we were. Instead, thankful that there was a bridge, we would go to it and cross over. Or consider the following. When we go to the doctor, we want a prescription for exactly what we will need to get well. We would be quite startled if the doctor said, “These pills ought to cure you if you’re sincere. After all, we believe in health, don’t we?” Or would you trust yourself to a surgeon who had received no specialized training but was simply a really good person who meant well? Of course not! You know that truth is narrow. And you will trust your life only to someone who knows exactly what he or she is doing”

John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

What about me? What about you? Can it be said of “church members” that we are full of grace and truth?

Discuss fully the following sets of verses
Matthew 5:33-37: “”Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ {34} But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; {35} or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. {36} And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. {37} Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

Matthew 23:16-22: “”Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ {17} You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? {18} You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath.’ {19} You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? {20} Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. {21} And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. {22} And he who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.”

Jesus causes us to ask:
· does my word stand for anything
· can I be trusted
· the Pharisees had gone to great lengths to establish terms about how an oath should be stated and whether or not it would be binding
· ever “cross my heart and hope to die?” with your fingers crossed behind you back?

Five ways we compromise our standards
1. Satan’s native language. – lying.
John 8:44: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

The lie is to Satan what the truth is to God – his native language. Lying is the most blatant violation of integrity in communication. When we lie, we allow ourselves to be a puppet for Satan.

Acts 5:3: “Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?”

Why do people lie?
· Pride. We lie to create impressions to others that we are more virtuous, responsible, or productive than we really are.
· To hide our own selfish interests, motives, or laziness.
· Because we are afraid. Afraid to accept responsibility for our words or deeds; afraid to trust others with the truth.

Proverbs 12:22: “The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.”

2. The White Lie.
Most would agree that a “bold-faced lie” is morally wrong and has no place in the speech of Christians. But what about the “tell him I’m not here” statement when we don’t want to talk to someone on the telephone” white lie? If the fundamental assumption of this study is true – that no area of a Christian’s speech falls outside the sovreignty of God – then lying has no degree?

Herman Bezze: “White lies are silken threads that bind us to the Enemy, invisible webs that are woven in hell.”
   “The commandment tells us to speak truthfully whenever it is appropriate for us to speak at all. Respect for truthfulness does not compel us to reveal our minds to everyone or on every occasion. The Ninth Commandment assumes, no doubt, a situation that calls on us to speak.
   “It does not ask us to tell the people at the next table in a restaurant that their manners are repulsive. It does not obligate a nurse to contradict a physician at a sick person’s bedside. Nor does it require me to divulge all of my feelings to a stranger on the bus. We are called to speak the truth in any situation in which we have a responsibility to communicate.
   “Further, the command requires only a revelation that is pertinent to the situation. A politician ought to speak the truth about public matters as he sees them; he does not need to tell us how he feels about his wife. A doctor ought to tell me the truth, as he understands it, about my health; he does not need to tell me his views on universal health insurance.
   “A minister ought to preach the truth, as he sees it, about the gospel; he does not need to tell the congregation what he feels about the song leader. The commandment does not call us to be garrulous blabbermouths. Truthfulness is demanded from us about the things that we ought to speak about at all.”
   “Truth and love go together. The mind grows by taking in truth; the heart grows by giving out love.”

3. The Empty Promise
2 Corinthians 1:17: “When I planned this, did I do it lightly? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say, “Yes, yes” and “No, no”?”

2 Corinthians 1:17: (NNAS) “Therefore, I was not vacillating when I intended to do this, was I? Or what I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, so that with me there will be yes, yes and no, no at the same time?”

Paul had to answer to the charge that he had stated “good intentions” but had not followed up on them. His point is clear: a person who does such a thing with no intention of following up is a worldly, flesh-driven person!

There are many times when we plan to do better and it doesn’t work out; times when we have every intention of doing what we say. But there are also those who make promises with no intention of keeping them…a promise made with no credibility.

“I am praying for you” can fit in that category if we make the promise and don’t keep it. It becomes idle words — something taken lightly when it should be very important to us.

4. Flattery.
Webster: “excessive, untrue, or insincere praise; exaggerated compliment or attention.”

We all enjoy a good compliment or a word of praise for a job well done. Christians ought to look for ways “daily” to encourage others, according to Hebrews 3:13: “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

But we ought never something we don’t mean.

Psalms 12:3: “May the LORD cut off all flattering lips and every boastful tongue”

Proverbs 29:5: “Whoever flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his feet.”

1 Thessalonians 2:4-5: “On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. {5} You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed–God is our witness.”

5. Honesty.
Honesty is the Christian policy! Ephesians 4:25: “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.”

Honesty is never license for rudeness or insensitivity or arrogance. No matter how many scriptures I might speak, it is just a noisy nothing (!) if there is no love: 1 Corinthians 13:2 NNAS) “If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”

Jesus spoke plain and to the point with people but never to put himself in a better light, never to inflict pain for pain’s sake:
· Nichodemus “You must be born again”
· Woman at the well: “The fact is, you have had five husbands”
· Peter: “I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times”

Some important questions
a. What are my motives here
b. Do I have my facts straight?
c. Is my mind made up and closed shut?
d. Can I present the truth lovingly?
e. Does this truth need to be verbalized?

Some truthful statements
A large plaque in Rockefeller Center bears this inscription: “I believe in the sacredness of a promise, that a man’s word should be as good as his bond, that character – not wealth or power or position – is of supreme worth.”

Paul said it best many centuries earlier: Ephesians 4:15: “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”

It isn’t the things that go in one ear and out the other that hurt as much as the things that go in one ear, get all mixed up, and then slip out the mouth.

A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. — Mark Twain

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Posted by on April 27, 2017 in Encouragement


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