"Then you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." John 8:32. We must do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no man can work." John 9:4. "When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But, when I grew up I put away childish things." 1Corinthians 13:11.
"Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth; so help you God?" This oath has been declared countless times in a court, usually with the right hand raised and the left hand firmly planted on the Bible. Update: That was a while ago, as the courts have removed "so help you God," from this declaration, and the Bible is no longer required. Why? I can only speculate: We (not all of us, of course, but enough of us) do not want to be accountable to anything or anyone other than ourselves. Taking God out of the equation and anything (the Bible) that brings him into the picture means that we can tell any version/variation of the truth we wish. Now before you scoff; reflect. Do you always tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God? Don't fool me or yourself when you answer.
The truth represents what is real; what is actually happening and not what we think should be or want things to be. It can be more palatable to design a truth that we can live with, but unfortunately, it is not the truth. You can tell yourself that by getting a facelift, you are not aging. I hate to break the news, this will not slow down the aging process. If you continue to live, you will age. I am not trying to be harsh. Hey, have that facelift if it makes you feel better. But, back to the truth. We have created so many levels of truth, that we hardly recognize truth these days. "If you think it is true, then it is." Even a child knows that is nonsense, but believe it or not, we are bombarded daily with folks (powerful folks) who spout and embrace that mantra. What is truth? Why is it so difficult to tell?
Truth: the quality or state of being true; that which is true in accordance with fact or reality.
Whole Truth: the absolute truth about something, without omission, embellishment, or alteration.
Personal Truth: something that becomes like a second nature, not likely to to be abandoned or changed for something else. For example, the qualities of respect, worth and inspiration are the truths that you begin to embody.
In the scripture noted above, John 8:32, the truth is being hailed (and rightly so) as beneficial to living a life that is fulfilling and freeing. True freedom is found in forgiveness of sin and service to God. A lie may be comforting for the moment, but when it is exposed for what it is, troubles are compounded because poor decisions are oftentimes made based on something that is not true. If we look at the first temptation in the Bible, we read that man defied God, falling for the lie that he would gain just as much wisdom as God, and therefore control his own destiny. Alas, when man was called to task and had to face the truth, not only did he lose the blessings of the beautiful garden and the provisions therein, he was now facing death among other things that were not pleasant. Eve did not get the whole truth from the serpent, and Adam did not ask for it when he ate the fruit. But, they both shared in the consequences and so did generations of their offspring after that.
This leads to another precarious topic; personal truth. This is what we have come to believe based on our personal life experiences. There are some virtues that we live by that are very honorable and have become a way of life that sets us apart from people who live life without any thought about the well being of anyone than themselves. But, we cannot stop there because virtue based on our own idea of goodness is shortsighted. There was a time in our history when people actually believed that "separate, but equal" was the truth and acceptable. Or, that you could enslave others and believe yourself to be a good person. Personally, you may believe this, but in reality, it is not the truth. It is tantamount to lying to yourself, and the result will be that at some point the truth will break out and the resulting consequences will follow. Check your personal truth against the absolute truth.
Why can't we tell the truth? For one, it hurts and secondly, it might (will) bring about the need to take some action. We can deal with pain, why not just face the truth? Well, I do not believe that we do well with pain especially if it is out of our control. But, you see if we craft a truth that we can deal with, the pain is manageable. My sister is going to get me for this, but I am going to tell it. She said that whenever she went to a department store to shop for clothes she took extra care to avoid mirrors. The thought of seeing herself in a mirror at a size she did not want to be was worth the effort of not looking. I was curious as to how she avoided the mirrors in the dressing room. She said she did not go in the dressing room. She held the item of clothing up and if it stretched to a certain width, she knew she would be able to fit it. I am not mad at you girl. We all do what we have to. On the real side, avoiding the truth does not make it any less true. Facing the truth of the expanding waistline would mean some action would have to be taken to get the weight under control. That is the hard stuff; taking action. If I can keep myself from seeing it, I can keep pretending (lying) that everything is okay. The hurtful question is, "how did I let myself get here?" That does not have to be answered if I do not acknowledge it.
In the song, Man in the Mirror by the late Michael Jackson, the lyrics present a call to action (at least it did for him and perhaps for many others) to do something about the poverty and despair so many disenfranchised people face in a climate of wealth. See lyrics:
"As I turn up the collar on my favorite winter coat, The wind is blowing my mind, I see the kids in the streets, with not enough to eat, Who am I to be blind? Pretending not to see their needs. A willow deeply scarred, somebody's broken heart, And a washed-out dream, They follow the pattern of the wind ya' see, Cause they got no place to be, That's why I'm starting with me. I'm starting with the man in the mirror, I'm asking him to change his ways, And no message could have been any clearer, If you want to make the world a better place, Take a look at yourself and make that change!"
Accepting the truth, will stir you to do something. What will that something be? It's up to you.
1. Tell yourself the truth. Look it up in the dictionary if you have to. Look it up in the Bible. The truth has undergone quite a bit of change in our personal lives and in our society. So, if you have somehow mixed truth with untruth, don't beat yourself up. Take the time and exert the energy to get the absolute truth. Once you understand the truth, deal with it like an adult should. 1 Corinthians 13:11. As a child, we made up stories to make our world feel better. If you are reading this blog, you are no longer a child; at least not in the numeric sense. Examine the truth and decide what, if anything, you need to address in order to live your life in truth.
2. Be receptive to the whole truth. Did you know that half-truths are lies? Of course you did. I was just checking. The whole truth may be that you have been living a lie. Okay, as bad as that sounds, it is not the end. You can reverse course and decide to live in the truth. Remember Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol?" Well, he had the benefit of three scary visitors, but we don't need that. We remember what happened to him (just adding a little humor). On a serious note, if you are willing to listen to the truth, then you should be committed to doing what it takes to live in the truth. For example, if you are willing to face the fact that being overweight has impacted your health and you want optimum health, then you have to take steps to reduce your weight. First step; to get at the truth, you must do the hard thing and get on a scale and actually look at the number that it shows (do not roll it back adjusting for clothes, shoes, water, etc.). If that is too harsh, have your heath care provider weigh you. Either way, the number is not open for discussion. Get cracking with the plans to make "that change!" You will find that there are many agreeable options.
3. Honesty is the best policy! Tell the truth to others. I am not suggesting that we do not tell the truth, but sometimes we leave out so much as to make it maybe a falsehood. It's almost like someone famous once saying, "I did not inhale." But, what that person forgot to say is that he put the cigarette up to his mouth, drew on it, and then blew out the smoke. Do you think he even believes that he did not inhale? We certainly don't believe it because he came too close to it. We need more details. I digress. Not being honest can result in some dire consequences. In Acts 5:1-11, Ananias and his wife Sapphira sold a piece of property. With his wife's full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles' feet. To make a long story short both he and his wife fell dead as a result of this deception. It was not that they did not give enough, it was that they were dishonest in their giving. Then Peter said, "You have not lied to just human beings, but to God." Tell the truth, your life may depend on it. I agree with Judge Judy, "If you tell the truth, you do not have to have a good memory." Beyond that, by being dishonest you might not be able to get the help you or someone you know or love may need if you or they are not honest.
The truth is, this is not the land where we never grow old. Time is marching on, and we need to march with it. Don't keep telling yourself tales. Get done what you must today. Tomorrow is not promised, and even if it does come, you might have put off taking action for so long that you have neither the strength nor the inclination to get anything done. Be about your life right now!
Here's to living the truth while we have the chance!
Note: Thank you for your response to my upcoming Retreat/Conference on October 26, 2019. It warms my heart that you are showing your support for me as I step out on faith. God bless you for "showing up at the showdown." For those few who still have to finalize their payment, you can call me, quick pay, send a check or use pay pal. So appreciative. I am so excited, I am expecting a surprise guest, a renowned speaker and author. You are going to be blessed. Again, thank you.
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