Sunday, May 13, 2007
The Truth, The Whole Truth & Nothing But The Truth!
“The TRUTH? You can’t HANDLE the truth!” This line (from A Few Good Men) often springs to mind when I think of truth. In 2 Tim 2:15, Paul exhorts Timothy to be one who “correctly handles the word of truth”. I’ve thought a lot about this. If Paul is telling Timothy to correctly handle truth, then there is an implication that we can incorrectly handle it. If truth is a knife, we can use it like a surgeon does a scalpel, to facilitate healing, OR we can use it like a knife wielding assassin – slashing randomly in order to serve ourselves.
Truth and Love should always be married. It is not enough to love without truth. It is not enough to have truth without love. Love without truth is dishonest and it’s recipient will never be fully healthy. A surgeon cuts in order to bring health. Truth without love is like using a dirty knife to perform surgery. It leaves wounds that become infected and fester. How often do you hear the phrase, “well I’m just speaking the truth?” The accompanying tone is often defensive or aggressive. Very rarely is it spoken neutrally. When we speak out of anger or frustration, we dirty the knife. When we speak out of love, we cut clean and bring healing.
There is a saying, “people don’t care what you know, until they know that you care”. Do we have the right to speak into people’s lives without relationship? And if we have relationship, are we speaking into each other’s lives – loving, challenging and holding one another accountable? I am thankful that I have friends who love me and who have addressed issues in my life. I haven't necessarily liked it at the time, but much growth has come from these moments. Proverbs 27:6 tells us that wounds from a friend can be trusted.
How should we deliver truth? Timing, prayer and the approach are crucial. Weigh it up. What fruit will come from your words? Is this a good time to speak or would there be a better one later? Sometimes it is better to approach side on as opposed to head on. Some of the smart prophets in the Old Testament knew this. These poor guys were often tasked with bringing truth to people unwilling to listen. Sometimes they had to speak to kings, who had the power of life and death in their hands. Instead of confronting King David head on with his sin, Nathan told him a story about a poor man’s much-loved lamb – stolen by a more powerful rich man (1 Sam 12). David was drawn into the drama of the story and then Nathan let him know that he was the rich man and confronted him with his sin. When intervening on behalf of the Jews, Esther did not approach the King without gathering prayer support first. She came in humility and drew the King in with a series of banquets. Another side-on approach!
Truth in love. How will I know? Run it through the filter of 1 Corinthians 13. If it fails the test, leave it unsaid. That’s the truth!