A very serious and worrisome trend has emerged in our society. It is a trend that has influenced many people, including Christians and a number of church leaders as well. It is a trend that moves people to compromise with one of the most important values of the Christian faith, the value of truth. The situation is serious and has caused much grief and much damage. It echoes the words of an ancient Roman leader, who faced by the pressure of the people on one side and the warning of his wife on the other, stated “what is truth?” That man was Pilate, and he uttered that question moments before he delivered Jesus Christ to be crucified.
A Rejection of the Truth
In one way or another, people still ask the same question today. We live in an age when truth has become relative, unimportant. In the public words of a lawyer, is not even truth at all. In this denial of the value of truth, people intentionally distort the facts, feeding lies to the masses. Then they repeat them so many times that people actually come to believe them ̶ yes, even well intentioned Christians.
This rejection of the value of truth is based on a well known principle. It has been well known for a long, long time. An outrageous lie may shock the people hearing it for a while. However, they still need to evaluate it in order to dismiss it as the lie that it is. This is a process that takes time and effort, and most people simply don’t have the time needed. In the meantime, the lie is repeated many times, in some cases even hundreds of times. Every time we hear it, it lessens our resistance. Eventually, the lie becomes so familiar that it is no longer disputed, but taken face value. This is a tactic that the devil, the “father of lies”1 knows all too well.
You Can Recognize It
This tactic, however, can be recognized. The lies, in order to stick, often use cliches, key phrases that are easy to remember, slogans that are repeated so often that they become deeply embedded in the mind of those who don’t take the time to check them out to uncover the truth. People tell lies and exaggerate facts to benefit or profit themselves. They lie to present themselves in a certain light, to show themselves as being better than they really are. They use lies to divert the attention away from their guilt, insecurity or weakness. In other words, lies are self-centered at the core.
At times, people lie to cover up a truth that they think to be dangerous for them. The self-interest and self-centeredness still remain a primary characteristic. It is so that lies are in clear opposition to Christian love, which by definition is a giving of oneself for the benefit of the beloved in Christ.2
A Poisoning of the Heart
This lack of Christian love leads to self-interest, greed, or just outright narcissism. However, it is not the only aspect of this trend. When the value of truth is trampled upon and lies have to be defended, Christian compassion and charity end up being replaced by rudeness and poisonous attitudes that can only result in divisions and suffering. More and more people today are learning to attack anyone who does not agree with them. They use caustic statements, ridiculing the others with offensive and demeaning language.
It is nothing less than shameful for any Christian to use foul language or call those who don’t quite agree with them “crazy,” “disgraced,” “losers,” “fake,” “ignorant,” “dumb,” “demonic,” or worse. This is shameful, dangerous and disgraceful, not just because it is uncivilized, but because it stands against every principle that Scripture teaches us. It is a travesty that many have come to see as a desirable trait. It is not!
What Does God Have to Say?
We cannot ignore nor forget what God Himself has to say about it in His word. We cannot ignore what Scripture reveals about the power of the tongue, and still call ourselves Christians.
God reminds us that words, and in particular rash words, can be as dangerous as a sharp sword, when instead they should be a source of healing,3 that our lies are not innocent slips of the tongue, or just some “rough edges,” but actually reflect the nature of our very hearts.4 Jesus reminded us that in the day of judgment we will all be called to give account of our words. Notice it yourself:
But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.5
Scripture is very clear in stating that haughty eyes, a lying tongue, a heart that devices wicked schemes, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community are among the “six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him.”6
Christians Are of the Truth
The apostle James made it quite personal for anyone claiming to be a Christian, as he wrote,
If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.7
James had much more to write about the importance of the tongue. Read the entire chapter three of his letter.
The tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. […] With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.8
The Value of Truth
James makes an important point. First he contrasts fake religion, with its caustic and damaging language, with true charity, which helps those in need, rather than calling them “losers.” Then he reminds us that falsehood and destructive language are particularly shameful for those who claim to be followers of Christ.
Incidentally, being Christians does indeed mean to be disciples and followers of Christ. But let’s not forget: He is the living Word of God, and is “the way, the truth, and the life.”9 So, how can we claim to follow Him who is truth and love10 if we buy into the lies we are fed and spread them like wildfire? How can we claim to be in Him while we deny the value of truth and spread hateful, offensive and demeaning speech against everyone who does not agree with us?
Let’s Be Truthful!
Brethren, let us not be the cause of division in the church. Let us speak the truth, and only the truth! Let us not be the ones who bring shame on the name of our Lord and Savior by the way we speak. Remember, we are children of the Almighty God. We are to love one another even as He loves us, and to love even our enemies. We are to honor others above ourselves and to be wise, using words that heal and build up, not tear down.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.11
That’s the way we are called to be and to interact with one another. Our badge, what identifies us as Christians is not our ability to spread lies and put down everyone else. It is the way we love one another in Christ Jesus.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.12
Let this be our badge and our banner, what the world sees in us and in our words!