For Want of the Truth, A Leader Was Lost

…for Want of a Leader, a Nation was Lost

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”
-Exodus 20:16

Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
-Psalm 51:6

This characteristic of God’s truthfulness always challenges each one of us—his absolute, never flagging obsession with truth. He loves truth so much that he speaks it all the time, works to expose it everywhere and demands that we love and practice it with him. It lies at the very root of his creation and design for a happy human life.

God’s demand for the truth makes it into the Big Ten. In the Ninth Commandment, it’s clear that truth is foundational to his character and will for all human life. Throughout the Bible, the issue comes up again and again. God loves truth in all its forms and hates dishonesty in all its forms: false witness, slander, deceit, duplicity, open lies, misinformation, disinformation, distortion, and so on.

Human beings, it seems, have found so many creative ways of avoiding or shading the truth that it occupies an entire catalog to describe it. We might not be as excited about truth as God is, but we should be enormously grateful that God is so stubborn and hard-nosed about it.

It means, among other things, that God wants the truth about himself to be obvious to us. Even if he never said a single word about himself, he wants us still to be able to perceive a good deal about him just by taking a long look at what he’s created around, above, and below us. That’s what the apostle Paul was getting at in his letter to the Romans (Rom. 1:18-20).

We may thank God that he’s extremely interested in having his true character and purpose made known to his creatures and is extremely unhappy with all human attempts to muddle it up. He loves the truth about himself to be clear and hates all confusion and misperceptions to stand. Read the Old Testament and see how many times God rebukes his people for not getting things straight, even though he’s made it abundantly plain time after time.

In so many ways, we’re just like the ancient Hebrews. They just couldn’t wait to turn away from the crystal clarity of his words about himself in order to believe in and worship the false gods around them. Yet God continued to disclose himself in such ways that they couldn’t possibly miss the point. They did.

In the New Testament, we come to understand that God made himself so totally clear to all humanity in Jesus Christ that it proved too strong for them. They were so offended by his clarity that they crucified his Son, the brightest light ever to come into the world. Most preferred the darkness. Unfortunately, they (we) still do.

But God isn’t finished with the matter of truth there. Not only does he want to make himself utterly unambiguous to us in one full disclosure in his Son, but he also wants us to love the truth as much as he does. Jesus’ teaching intensifies the demands of the Law regarding telling the truth (Mt. 5:33-37), and page after page of the New Testament repeats the demand to love and tell the truth to each other, even when it’s not convenient to do so.

God wants the church to be the place where the truth (about everything) is revered and practiced, so much so that the world will observe and take note of it. In all honesty, that hasn’t happened very often in the past—and seems even less today. Rather, as much falseness, slander, and deceit regularly occur within its walls as in the world. The church needs to be delivered from this powerful, widespread temptation that seems very much like a general addiction.

Even with all our human problems and shortcomings, the truth is still the standard by which God measures (and judges) the world, our nation, and the church. This puts before us a great calling and a great challenge. We’re called to become the community of truth—telling it, loving it, demanding it, and living it. When we do (and only when we do) will the world sit up and pay attention to our Lord who loves it and embodies it.

Questions to Consider

1) How much love of the truth do you find among the people you work with each day?

2) Are there areas of your life where more of the truth is needed?

3) How do you see the love of truth reflected around you today?

Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

John I. Snyder
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