Improving the Truth

path-691233_1280Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life…” Does that mean He is always impressed when we tell the truth? Surprisingly, no. There are ways we can “improve on the truth.”

I was reading a rant on Facebook this morning that brought this “truth” to light. The person was chastising people who call themselves Christians, yet ignore the character flaws of Donald Trump. He went on to berate his readers for criticizing President Obama for character issues while ignoring those found in the man they supported.

Obviously, the writer has a point. I have written previously about cognitive dissonance and our tendency to believe one thing and act another in certain situations. Anyone who is critical of something when one person does it, should be intellectually consistent when another person does a similar thing. The problem then, was not so much in the posters message, rather it was in his delivery.

While there are many things we can learn from such a display, allow me to point out a few ways we can “improve” the truth:

1. Truth should be spoken in love (Ephesians 4:15)

In so many words, the poster intimated that he didn’t know how long he could stick by such a pack of hypocrites. This approach doesn’t seem like a great way to help readers “feel the love.” The Apostle Paul wrote that even if he could speak the language of men and angels, had the gift of prophecy, understand all mysteries and knowledge, and had absolute faith to move mountains – but didn’t have love – he would just be a ringing gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1) I want to be clear, beautiful note, NOT a disturbing, dissonant noise.

2. Prophets identify with their people

One challenge with a lot of so-called modern day prophets is that they like to point fingers. The poster I referred to earlier kept saying, “ya’ll”. He displayed a detachment from the people he was chastising.

Daniel on the other-hand, who was one of the greatest, purest, men that ever lived, cried out, “We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments.”

As far as we can tell from scripture, Daniel did none of the things he prayed about personally, however, he loved the people that God made him a part of and identified with them in their need for repentance.

Like Moses, Daniel was an intercessor who stood between God and his people to ask a forgiving God to forgive them. Moses even went so far as to tell God that if He would not forgive the people then “please blot me out of Your book.” (Exodus 32:32) He was willing to suffer the same fate as the people, even though the sin was not his. This is the heart of a true man/woman of God.

3. We need to convey both the Mind AND Heart of God

A careful examination of the book of Jeremiah will quickly move past the surface story of harsh warnings and uncover the painful expressions of the betrayed – but still loving – heart of God. Over and over again, God promises to save His people from disaster if they will only turn to Him.

Even when it is painfully clear that they are not going to turn before judgment comes, He promises them a future when He will restore them to their land when their time of punishment is complete. (Jeremiah 29:11) When Jeremiah becomes harsh and angry with the people who had turned their back on God and were worshiping idols, God chastised him and warned him about the leanings of his heart. God said, “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me…” (Jeremiah 15:15-21) After everything Jeremiah had done, and all the persecution he had suffered at the hands of rebellious people God had sent him to, the Lord told him he needed to make sure his own heart was right. Jeremiah was correct in telling the people that God was angry over their sin. (The mind of God) He was wrong in taking it personal and desiring to see judgment poured out on them. This went against the heart of God.

So, yes, the truth is important, but it must have a covering. Naked truth leads us into self-righteousness and presumption that takes us just as far away from God as the people we are angry with.


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