Publication: One-to-One, Autumn 2008
HOW TO DISCERN AND INVEST WISELY DURING TRYING TIMES AND GREAT OPPORTUNITIES
Thyssen-Krupp is a Germans firm investing billions of dollars to build a steel plant near Mobile, AL. They will employ 2700 people, and this will create hundreds of other jobs in the area. Needless to say, it has caused a lot of excitement and optimism.
Recently, a man posing as an agent for another large company falsely advertised that the company had taken over the hiring. He met applicants at a local motel and charged each one an advanced union fee of $110 to get them a job. “I’ll get back to you,” he said. Of course he never did.
It is too bad that the applicants lost $110 each. But believing a lie can cost much more: it can cost your life and even your eternal soul.
The lies that we hear every day range from false cures and false investments to false religions. In Jesus’ day, there were false Messiahs. The problem with committing to a false promise is that often, you do not know the results until it is too late. Most of us have accepted some false claim at sometime in our lives; in such situations, a person is fortunate if it didn’t take their life or result in unrecoverable loss.
But many people who have “been had” do not recover, in that they feel that they can never trust anyone again. That loss of trust is a great loss because trust is essential to life and salvation. And then there are those who only trust themselves-and there is no salvation in that.
Those who knew Jesus best when He walked here on the earth said that He is the Truth, and that He is full of grace and truth. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father except through me.” This statement means that truth is absolute, eternal, unchanging, and that Jesus is absolutely the truth. If we have received Jesus, we have received the truth-it is within us (see I John 1:6-8; 2:21-27; 3:19; and 5:6).
John 17:17 tells us that God’s Word is truth, and God’s truth sanctifies us-sets us apart. John I tells us that Jesus is the Word made flesh and dwelling among us. So, for a follower of Jesus, He is the revelation, foundation, and starting point of truth.
This reminds us that truth is not only absolute; it is eternal. It exists above and beyond all earthly circumstance. You can trust the truth.
So what has this to do with an “agent” making false claims and taking people’s money? It reminds us that we live in a gullible society. Humanity-all of us-are susceptible to lies. We are in need of a “plumb line”, a standard by which we can measure all claims.
Western society has become “postmodern”. Among other characteristics, postmodern thinking tells us that “truth” is whatever we want it to be. Ironically, it began in Germany through the teachings of Hegel and Nietzsche and gave and gave us men like Hitler and Marx. Postmodernism is not constructive, it is deconstructive. It takes apart trusted virtue and gives it want-personal “values”. And today in much of the world, we live in a “want-driven” society instead of a truth-driven society.
Our gullibility is that a lie offers us what we want; and that wanting often leads us to accept a lie. There are good “wants” such as wanting a job or want ing to do the right thing. However, if we are not armed with the truth, many of our “wants” can lead us to believe a lie. The consequences of being want-driven will be more costly than $110. It can take us into much more dangerous places.
Optimism is generally good, but if we are positively optimistic about a lie, that will ultimately lead us to become cynics at best-or destroyed at worse. We might be happy for a while, but only as we are failing to realize that we are not actually on the road to happiness. Ultimate happiness is in ultimate truth; then we might be less gullible.
The deadliest lie is when we lie to ourselves because we want to believe something. “Want” overrides the inner warning. David wanted Bathsheba-his “want” overrode his inner knowledge that his “want” was not God’s “want” for him. The cost was horrific!
In Psalm 51, David confessed his sin and said to the Lord, “You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part you will make me to know wisdom.”
Jesus said, in John 18:37, “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate answered back, “What is truth?” The truth was standing right in front of him, but Pilate chose a lie. He released Barabbas who was a criminal and crucified Jesus who is the Truth. When Pilate washed his hands, he could not cleanse the stain and consequence of the lie; nor did it produce happiness. Obviously Pilate was not “of the truth.” The “want to please the people” overrode even Pilate’s better judgment.
The people of Noah’s day did not want to believe that a flood could come. Lot’s wife did not want to believe the warning not to look back. Pharaoh did not want to believe that he could lose his first-born. Israel did not want to believe the prophets, but history tells us that they should have. Wants, desires, and human appetites make us gullible and lie to ourselves when we are not armed with and committed to the truth. William Shakespeare famously said, “To thine own self be true.” The loss of truth is the underlying cause of the loss of civility and morality.
BUY THE TRUTH
We read in Proverbs 23:23: “Buy the truth, and do not sell it.” The wisdom of this verse is much more profound than its brevity suggests. Truth is costly, but not as costly as ignoring it. Truth requires a pursuit, a quest. To really know Jesus, we must follow and hunger and thirst. Truth calls us onward to ignore the scoffers and mockers and deny ourselves. “Wants” must be crucified.
“Market-driven Christianity” tells us that we can have it all-without a cross. But to buy the truth we must pay the price-whatever it costs. That is apostolic faith. Truth is better than life.
John 8:31-32 tell us the price of truth: “Abide in My word, be My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Abiding in His Word is a clear reference to obedience, not mete knowledge. We learn truth as we obey and follow. He leads us to learn. Disciples are “learners” of truth and are made free from self and circumstance.
My parents were lovers of truth. In addition to leading me to Christ, they gave me a Bible with special markings in the book of Proverbs. And I found it very difficult to lie to them-though I often tried. By their instruction and example, I have found it even more difficult to lie to God or even to myself.
“Buy the truth and do not sell it.” What will you take in exchange for the truth? A better resume? A beautiful woman or a handsome man? A more convenient religion? Public opinion? Once we sell the truth, we have sold our future and our freedom.
BUILD ON TRUTH
I am a believer in Intelligent Design. That is, I believe that there are physical laws given by our Creator that produce order and allow us to construct lasting results. Every building, every technology, and every successful family and society depends on a consistency of principles that produces stability. Order and progress are built upon truth, and the belief that there is truth beyond one’s own personal preferences. The loss of that concept has given us a low ranking among the nations of the world’s nations in math and science, and a high ranking in crimes, divorce, and child abuse.
There is a powerful declaration in I Timothy 3:15: the Church is the pillar and the ground of truth. It holds up and is the foundation for truth. But what happens to “the Church” when it forsakes the truth, deconstructs the truth, and accommodates the culture? It loses its purpose, its impact, and place in the world. Now we have Protestant denominations which have embraced secular cultural “values” and forsaken eternal virtues. And the results? One example is that we now have more Muslims in America than Episcopalians.
ARM YOURSELF WITH TRUTH
We should be armed with the truth. No, I’m not suggesting that you buy a gun-although I own one. I’m saying that we should heed Ephesians 6:10-18, and take on the whole armor of God in order to stand against the schemes of the devil. The enemy will offer you a deadly lie. The armor of God, which is spiritual and not carnal, will defeat the enemy’s purpose to destroy. Gird yourself with the truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, and the sword of the Spirit-the Word of God.
Simply getting together and singing a few choruses and verses from the overhead screen may help, but that is not sufficient. Nominal Christians get deceived about as often as other people. We need a recommitment to truth; a renewed commitment to study, live, and deliver the truth. Yes, we should speak it in love, but “love” without truth only enables deadly deception.
The truth may hurt, but it also heals. It may cost, but it also pays. It may offend, but in the end it reconciles. It may be unpopular, but it never was popular. I don’t want a doctor who is afraid to offend me or a dentist who refuses to cause momentary pain in order to prevent a more serious pain. It is time for our “spiritual doctors” to begin to tell the truth. We may lose a few patients, but I believe in the end truth will be vindicated.
One doctor said to his patient, “You have ergophobia.”
The patient replied, “What does it mean? Give it to me straight; I can take it.”
The doctor said, “Okay, there’s nothing wrong with you except that you are lazy.”
The patient asked,” Give me that long word again; I have to tell my wife!”
The truth is simple, straight-forward, withstands testing, and witnesses to those who desire it. Lies are confusing, appealing to basic instincts, and offer a detour away from facing facts. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death”(Proverbs 14:12). Thank God, He has offered us the truth in Jesus Christ. Now it’s our turn to offer it to others.
Scripture Reference: John 14:6; 1 John 1:6-8; 2:21-27; 3:19; 5:6; John 17:17; John 1; Psalm 51; John 18:37; Proverbs 23:23; John 8:31-32; 1 Timothy 3:15; Ephesians 6:10-18; Proverbs 14:12