Walter Scott wrote a poem called Marmion and it was in that poem that he wrote, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive!” It shows the fruitlessness of lying, but more than that: it shows how convoluted things become when we leave the truth.
One of the country’s greatest writers and humorists, Mark Twain, said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
Let’s not forget what Yeshua said about the truth: the truth will set you free.
Truth is simple, and that’s the truth. Truth has no image to maintain, no “spin” is needed, but as with most things that are simple, the truth is often hard to take.
“Yes, those pants make your butt look bigger.” That’s the truth, but if you speak it, the truth is that you will be sleeping on the couch.
In fact, humans (at least in our society, it seems) are so averse to hearing the truth that if you say something that is truthful, such as telling someone who is doing a poor job at something (even if you are their supervisor and it is your responsibility to do so), if you just come out and tell them they are doing a lousy job, you are in trouble with HR. Not them; you! Because you told the truth, but you didn’t think about their feelings. How can we think about someone’s feelings, in a society where we are all victims, and still tell the truth?
If we “sugarcoat” the truth so much that it tastes good, then how much “good” can it really do?
The bottom line about truth, which it seems no one wants to hear, is that we are not really in total control or complete charge of ourselves. We never have been and we never will be. We are all interrelated, we cannot be without each other, and we cannot survive totally on our own.
As Yeshua said, we are all a slave to something: either a slave to God or a slave to sin. The only real freedom we have is to choose what we will be a slave to.
People want to hear what they want to hear. The truth is not something they want to hear, so the world tells us lies and teaches us to be liars. If someone looks silly in the clothes they have on, don’t say they look silly, tell them they look fine. If someone doesn’t do the job the way they are supposed to, don’t tell them, don’t fire them or pay them less. And don’t “upset” the poor workers- give them a raise just like the good workers get. And when someone says God doesn’t exist, or that His laws are done away with, don’t disagree with them and don’t tell them you believe He does exist and that His laws are still valid because you shouldn’t upset them.
I am not saying that we should talk to each other in a totally callous and unfeeling way, but we need to be truthful. We need to be able to tell the truth compassionately. If someone looks silly we should say that we don’t think the clothes they are wearing look right, and they would look better if they wore something that matched better. We don’t have to say they look silly, but we should say they would look better because what they are wearing doesn’t do them justice. That’s telling the truth in a compassionate way, don’t you think?
If someone is not doing their job correctly, we need to tell them, and we can do that simply by telling the truth: there is an accepted way of doing this job and you haven’t been following that process. Here is the way this is to be done and you need to do it this way. If you think you have a better way, great- talk to me about it and we will see if it can work, but in the meantime, you need to do it this way.
The ultimate truth is that God is in charge, that we can’t understand His ways, and that we need to trust Him to do what is best. That same truth continues: we don’t have control over what we don’t have control over. People are, for the most part, cruel, self-centered and sinful. Sorry, that’s the truth- the Bible is pretty clear on that, as is our own life experience. We have our occasional good ones, and I hope you are one of those, but we are sinful and our nature is to sin: we are sinful sinners, and the more readily we accept that truth, the easier it is to see how much we need Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) to help us to overcome ourselves. That’s the only chance we have for being in God’s presence when all is done, and the best way to improve ourselves. You can’t change what you don’t know is wrong.
The ancient Greek aphorism, “Know thyself” is a call to truth. Know who you are, what you are capable of, and why you do what you do. I don’t think we need to go through years of psychoanalysis to do this, we just need to accept the truth unabashedly and with courage. Cowards hate the truth, hero’s seek it out. Which are you?
The truth is that the truth often sucks. That’s the way it is, and the truth is you can’t change that. To accept it is the first step on the path to peace, really. I am not saying to be apathetic, to be a fatalist and say that you can’t make any changes or do anything, or that everything happens because God is in charge and, thereby, blame the Lord for your own failures to act. I am asking you to remember that old adage about accepting what you can’t change, changing what you can, and knowing the difference.
Trying to do what we can’t do is frustrating and leads to anger and disappointment- those are the kinds of things that lead to the Dark Side. Anger, unforgiveness, frustration of wanting someone else to do what you think they should do and living with the fact that they won’t is the kind of mindset that will prevent you from doing what God wants, which is to forgive them and love them, anyway. When we learn to focus on what we can do and not obsess over what we can’t change we will be much happier, and set a better example of what God wants us to be.
The truth will set you free from frustration and disappointment, and when you are truthful in a compassionate way you can not only be free, but help others to be free, too.
And that, my friends, is the truth.