This morning I’m thinking about telling the truth in preparation for a gathering of girlfriends who are in the midst of studying Adele Ahlberg Calhoun’s Spiritual Disciplines Handbook. Please join me as I begin to think about this whole huge topic of truth versus lies.
Adele begins by challenging us to consider speaking to impress, exaggerating, cheating, slander, gossip and more.
Why do we quickly go to the harsher side of speaking truth? Why doesn’t a “telling-the-truth discussion” head first to the positive?
What if we started by considering the truth about God’s love – the grace that saves us, the generosity that gifts us, the faithfulness that keeps us?
Does it have something to do with the first beautiful Garden and the ones God made in His image?
Photo: Tom Swinnen from Pexels
We have a glimpse of that first perfect love, but within three chapters, a lie enters through the one who would become our life-long enemy: “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the Garden?” And in one fell swoop, lies enter where once holy truth lived.
It’s interesting that instead of spending the evening talking with girlfriends about how much we love each other, the beauty we see in each other, the potential for fruitfulness, the hand-holding presence of Jesus in every situation… I’m guessing we’ll talk about our struggle to include kindness with confrontation, silence instead of gossip, restraint rather than exaggeration, admission rather than denial.
I’m guessing we’ll be tempted to dive into lies instead of basking in truth. Maybe the chapter should be called “Lie Telling” instead of “Truth Telling.”
No question has ever shaken my world like the one from my niece days after my husband, John, left for heaven: “What are the lies you are tempted to believe?”
Photo: John Finkelstein from Pexels
I wonder if those of us who are blessed to house the Holy Spirit and are actually born all over again – have a bent toward truth-telling. It would make sense that with the new Spirit in us, our tendency is towards understanding and telling the truth in love. I wonder if that’s one of the ways God draw us to Himself – this thirst to know what is really true in every situation in our lives.
And it is in journaling that God woos me to slow down long enough to ponder, to consider every challenge, every human encounter, every apparent unjust suffering from His perspective. It is in this sacred and private quiet that I am free to come to God seeking some truth, first about my life:
Am I following the purposes the Lord dreamed for me?
Is it time for more or different?
Am I living the balance of working like it all depends on me and praying like it all depends on Him?
Are there people God wants me to touch that I am ignoring out of fear?
Is this the best use of my resources: time, money, and possessions?
I’m thinking that before I attempt to speak truth to others, I desperately want to know if I am living truthfully before God. Eve (and by extension, we) would have lived differently if she had begun by asking, or clarifying, what is true about that fruit He gave.
There are certainly places I feel like my truth is the best, the most right. And in this season of my life, I have little or no influence to enact it. Topics include: my family, my church and my country.
It is always appropriate to begin by asking the Lord, “Is what I think actually true? For everyone, or perhaps only true for me?” Dallas Willard has wise words to say about this truth challenge:
“I’m practicing the discipline of not having to have the last word.”
“One of the hardest things in the world is to be right
and not hurt other people with it.”
“We don't believe something by merely saying we believe it,
or even when we believe that we believe it.
We believe something when we act as if it were true.”
I pause to ask myself to what degree am I living the truth I say I believe? For example: Did I actually live yesterday believing I am not promised tomorrow?
Humbling. I’m realizing how important humility is when it comes to truth-telling. I wonder if some days this would give voice to my convictions and others days silence me to pray.
Pull up a chair and sit still
Do you feel God’s gentle nudge to quiet yourself before the One who knows you best and simply ask: What are the lies I am tempted to believe?
Thanks for joining me today in these wandering thoughts about truth-telling. I realize I didn’t invite you into a clear and precise application of truth. Instead you joined my circle of girlfriends who will be sitting together, simply wondering how we live to please God by telling the truth.