“The truth is,” “Tell the truth” or “That’s not true.” We hear thoughts about truth or the lack of it in conversations all the time. In relationships everyone wants truth at least from the other parties. No matter how much one may have claimed that everything is relative and that there is no real truth or error, but that the situation determines truth, they still expect their mate to tell the them truth. You can’t imagine a person saying to their teenager, “Just tell me what you want me to think or believe. Don’t worry about telling me the truth.”
We often hear people say, “Truth will set you free” but experience demonstrates that truth often doesn’t bring freedom at all. Often truth brings tremendous pain, difficulty and problems. If a husband or wife has been unfaithful to their mate and the truth finally comes out it doesn’t normally bring freedom but the destruction of the marriage and tremendous pain to the whole family. If there had been truth all along it would have made a huge difference. But truth is needed in more than just words. We need truth in actions, in relationships. In marriage it isn’t nearly enough for one to be truthful about their misbehavior. For the marriage to be good there must be a truthfulness or integrity in our dependability toward one another.
Jesus didn’t say, “Truth will set you free.” He said, “If you continue in my words then you are truly my disciples and you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32) It isn’t just any truth that brings freedom but the particular truth Jesus refers to. Consider two declarations made by Jesus on the word “Truth” as we look at the topic. In John 14:6 he said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” If this is the way Jesus is using the word “Truth” when He said, “The truth will set you free” His point was that when we know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior then we are set free from sin, from Satan’s rule and from the future punishment. The other time is when Jesus was praying as recorded in John 17:17. It was the night before his crucifixion and he is praying diligently for the apostles and for those who will come to faith through their teaching. In the middle of it he said, “Sanctify them through your truth. Your word is truth.” If this is the way he is using the word when he said “The truth will set you free” then it is specific to the word of God.
When John described the coming of Jesus into the world as a human being he said that the law was given by Moses but “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” As “The Word made flesh” Jesus both taught the truth on everything that He told about, He embodied the truth. Often we look at the teachings of particular people and think that their words sound good, but when you compare their words with their life it is completely inconsistent. Only Jesus perfectly lived what He taught. His life and actions proclaimed God’s will and demonstrated God’s heart all the time.
There are things in life one can be right about and it not really affect anything significant in their life. There are also things one can be wrong about and it have no real significance in their life. Suppose I believe that ice cream taste awful and as a result never ate any Blue Bell ice cream. I would be wrong in what I thought, but it wouldn’t really change anything of significance in my life. I would only have missed out on a simple pleasure in life.
There are all kinds of truths. Some truths are better left untold. If a wife says, “Do I look fat in this dress?” truth may be much better kept to oneself. But there are also vital truths that must be told or dire consequences will come. If a bridge is out ahead and we offer no warning to people headed in that direction we have withheld a vital truth that may result in their loss of life. Even in spiritual matters it is extremely important to determine what is a vital truth and what is an insignificant truth. Not every command of God is of equal importance. Think of the lawyer asking Jesus what was the first and great command. Jesus didn’t respond that there is no first and great command. He didn’t say all commands are of equal importance. He told him that loving God with all our being was first and loving our neighbor as our self was second. In talking to the religious leaders Jesus said, “You pay tithe of mint, anise and cummin but have omitted the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done without leaving the other undone.” (Matthew 23:23)
Too often we spend our lives focused on minor, insignificant truths rather than on the weightier matters of God’s word. Truth matters. But Vital truth matters a whole lot.