THE WHOLE TRUTH
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1 John 2:3-8
How familiar to us is the court room scene in which the bailiff approaches a witness with a Bible held in his upright hand. He raises his right hand and the witness mimics his motion and places his hand facedown on the Bible. Finally the bailiff utters those legendary words that are familiar to us even if weve never been in a court room: Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
In those words we hear the basic elements of good society and human life together: truth! Truth is so elemental to our life together. If we are a body, then truth is the connective tissue that runs throughout linking all the parts. If we are city, then truth is the bedrock upon which we are built. Truth is the glue and gravity that holds together our life together.
So the challenge for all of us is: Will we tell the truth? This is especially true for Gods people. When we tell the truth we imitate God. We are called to be Gods children and that means we must speak truthfully to one another. [Notice the Scriptures that were read in worship: Hebrews 6, 1 John, Matthew 5]
Bottom line: In order for us to live in community, you need me to be truthful and I need you to be truthful.
- Character: When we speak the truth, we are like God. For God, truthfulness is the same as trustworthiness. God does not lie. His word can be trusted.
- Telling the truth develops a character that can be trusted. Trustworthiness holds us together: The power of a promise kept in the wedding vows (yes is yes and no is no). Truth is foundational to trust.
- Lying corrodes character. Anything else that one says after lying is suspect. The continual, habitual practice of lying actually erodes ones inner sense of truthfulness.
- All of the positive virtues such as loyalty, commitment, and faithfulness are rooted in telling the truth. All of the negative actions such as gossip, slander, deception, scheming are rooted in lying.
- Community: Community, any sort of human grouping, cannot survive without trust based on truth. Virtues like loyalty, commitment, faithfulness, promise-keeping. These are based on truth.
- Telling the truth respects our neighbor. We respect others enough to consider that our dealings with them should be truthful and not a deception (pseudos). You and I know how important it is to be treated honestly and truthfully, so why would we deny that to another?
- Lying demeans others. Lying dehumanizes others. When we lie, we do not allow the other person to make decisions and act based on the truth. We treat others as unimportant people whose dignity is of no consequence.
- We may think our motives for being less than truthful are well-intentioned. Maybe we think we are sparing them pain and hurt. Maybe we are afraid of their reaction. We think that they cannot handle the truth. But who are we to decide that? When we think we know whats best for others, we dissolve the basis of community and we stop acting as if we are members of the same body.
If truth is the glue and bond that is foundational to every other aspect of our life together, then lying is the acid that erodes our oneness.
So we are going to put away lying. Just as we put away or put aside the old person and are clothed in Christ, so we are going to put away deception and lying and start telling the truth. That is Christ-like. That is how God does it.
Gods vision for the church is that it should be a community of believers who are committed to speaking the truth to one another.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 27 May 2007
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