God still values truth as a priority — even if our age doesn't
By John W. Maurice
Saturday, April 13, 2019
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” — 3 John 4 (The Bible, New International Version)
"With Candle and Lanthorn, when the Sun shin'd I sought Honest Men, but none could I find." — Diogenes of Sinope
The prophet Jeremiah, like the cynical philosopher Diogenes, sought to find honest and trustworthy people in Jerusalem. God told Jeremiah, "Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city” (Jeremiah 1:5).
In a world of fake news via social media, accusations of biased journalists and pundits, the normal misinformation of political advertisements, and the need for websites like “Snopes” or “Fact Check” is enough to make us all become cynics. Sometimes stories are fabricated to gain political power or to slander another’s reputation. One only has to look at the accusations hurled at the most recent nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, to see how unfounded and unsubstantiated claims create divisiveness and chaos.
The recent news regarding Jussie Smollett has caused quite a stir. Smollett originally reported that he was the victim of a brutal hate crime by supporters of President Donald Trump. Smollett, an African-American male who is openly gay, claimed to have been beaten up by two white men wearing MAGA ball caps who called him racist and homophobic names. After an investigation by the Chicago Police Department, not only were these claims discredited, but Smollett was charged with concocting the plot and charged with 16 felony counts of lying to investigators. Later the charges against Smollett were dropped, precipitating an investigation by the FBI.
These and a myriad of other stories scream for our attention. They capture our time and thoughts and sometimes our conversations. They solidify our political viewpoints, feed our voracious appetite for gossip, or cause us to become skeptics. This barrage of such material even begins to make us question everything we hear because so much has been shown to be untrue.
Could Diogenes and Jeremiah find an honest person among us? The scriptures remind us repeatedly about the importance of telling the truth. Followers of Christ are to avoid gossip, rumors, slander, unwholesome talk, and quarreling (Ephesians 4:29, Proverbs 20:19, Psalm 101:5, Titus 3:2). If gossip, rumors, slander and lies had not been a problem even among Christians, I doubt they would have been mentioned so often in the scriptures.
As we follow the one who claimed to be “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), we should be truth-tellers. Are you honest? Are you honest 100 percent of the time? Do you ever exaggerate or leave out some small piece of the truth so that someone believes one thing when the reality is another? Will we bend the truth when it works to our advantage?
By doing a quick Google search, I found the following:
· The average person tells about thirteen lies per week.
· It is estimated that 40 percent of people lie on their resumes.
· According to a study by Scientific American, 90 percent of people looking for a date online lie in their profile.
· 30 percent of Americans consulted admitted that they would cheat on their taxes.
· 64 percent agreed with the statement, "I will lie when it suits me, so long as it doesn't cause any real damage."
· 58.4 percent of Americans have called in sick to get a day off from work.
So, are we really honest? We live in a world that values tolerance over truth. The age of relativism does not value truth as a priority. Lies erode trust, destroy relationships, undermine integrity, and call our very character into question. Have we bought into the world’s values and lost sight of being a people of truth?
Have you ever wondered why truth, as well as truth-telling, is important to God? Truthfulness is important because it goes to the very fundamental nature of God — God is a God of truth! The scriptures emphatically state that there is one thing that God cannot do. God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). God wants us to love the truth and to hate and reject lying and dishonesty.
God does not only speak truth, He is truth. God is trustworthy, and because of His trustworthiness, we are secure in our relationship with Him.
When we are truthful, we are living in fellowship with God. Our new nature, our new mind, our new life in Jesus Christ gives witness to the truth of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. “Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving” (James E. Faust).
Third John 4 reminds us, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.”
Let us be people of truth!
John Maurice is president of Mid-Atlantic Christian University. The opinions expressed in this column belong to the author and may not be those of the university.