We are not very good at telling the truth. Diogenes would have a tough time in America today. The legendary Greek who sought for an honest man would be hard pressed to find many.
One survey revealed that 30% of those consulted admitted that they would cheat on their taxes—to a point. The assumption is, a huge lie is more likely to be audited than a small one. That same survey reported that 64% agreed with the statement, “I will lie when it suits me, so long as it doesn’t cause any real damage.” Another survey indicated that about one out of three people admits to deceiving a best friend about something, within the last year. And nearly half predict that if they scratched another car in the parking lot, they would drive away without leaving a note.”
Pollster George Gallup Jr., writing in The People’s Religion: American Faith in the 90s, finds that most people who consider themselves religious do not see truth as a high priority. He states, “While religion is highly popular in America, it is to a large extent superficial. [There is] a ‘knowledge gap’ between American’s stated faith and the lack of the most basic knowledge about that faith.”
How can we hope to tell the truth today?
Pursue the truth.
Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32 NIV). We must comprehend through diligent study and earnest prayer what God has graciously revealed in Scripture. Too many people give false testimony against God himself through ignorance of the Bible.
We must fill our minds with the truth of Scripture. We live in a culture that adheres to relativism, subjectivism, and pragmatism. We must make a concentrated effort to resist these influences by allowing our minds to be transformed by the truth of God’s Word. As we study and meditate on the riches of God’s revealed truth, we will know instinctively truth from error.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn was right when he observed, “Many of you have already found out, and others will find out in the course of their lives, that truth eludes us if we do not concentrate with total attention on its pursuit.”
Speak the truth.
The apostle Paul exhorted, “Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor” (Eph. 4:25 NIV). I would encourage you to make the following commitment, “From this day forward, with the help of God, I will speak only the truth, always and in every situation, for the rest of my life.” Such a commitment will inevitably improve our relationship with God and with everyone else.
Examine your heart. Ask some tough questions. Am I being completely honest with my spouse and children? Are my relationships marked by candor? Am I honest in my dealings in my business, at school, with friends?
Practice the truth.
If we are to proclaim truth, we must live truthfully; otherwise we are merely hypocrites.
Let’s take a test. Does my walk match my talk? Do people know me as an honest and trustworthy person? Can I be counted on? Do people trust me? Do I tell the truth, always?
As you read the poem, “The Question,” answer the single question it asks.
Were the whole world good as you—not an atom better—
Were it just as pure and true,
Just as pure and true as you;
Just as strong in faith and works;
Just as free from crafty quirks;
All extortion, all deceit;
Schemes its neighbors to defeat;
Schemes its neighbors to defraud;
Schemes some culprit to applaud—
Would this world be better?
If the whole world followed you—followed to the letter—
Would it be a nobler world,
All deceit and falsehood hurled
From it altogether;
Malice, selfishness, and lust,
Banished from beneath the crust,
Covering human hearts from view—
Tell me, if it followed you, Would the world be better?
Ralph Waldo Emerson was correct: “The greatest homage we can pay to truth is to use it.”