The test of truth
A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes
So runs a quotation often attributed to Mark Twain. Elsewhere in this issue, others are addressing types of truth but in the scriptures, truth is mentioned over a hundred times. From Job to John via Isaiah and Amos (among others) truth is held out as a positive concept, so much so that in the opening verses of John’s Gospel we are told that The Word became flesh and lived among us … full of grace and truth.
We could see truth as evidence, as in the oath, or in our evangelism of speaking of the good news, but I think we can also recognise it in our behaviour. Truth can be a shortcut to describing honesty and integrity, it’s about behaving correctly and properly, caring for others’ welfare as much as our own.
For me, it is in Galatians Chapter 5 that our behaviour as Christians should truly be characterised, where we are told that the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It is difficult to see how lying, falsehood or deceit (surely the opposite of truth) can be found within those fruits.
It is, of course, more challenging to apply this to our own lives. When we are busy or stressed, caught out or want something, then we can take shortcuts to get our own way and truth can become a more malleable concept. Then there is the chance that the fruits of the spirit may not flourish in quite the same way (or at all) and, if we are honest, we often have no one to blame but ourselves.
After the first flush of youth, cars have to have an MOT test each year. As was widely publicised several manufacturers fixed those tests so that the truth would not be told, and greater profit could continue to be made.
In some ways, it’s a pity that we don’t ourselves have an MOT of our faith and of the Christian witness that we live. A pity because it could expose those traits of self-deceit, especially when we aren’t truthful; but how challenging and painful it would be, to be faced with the harsh reality of the lives that we all live.
Yet there is nothing to stop us from a self-imposed MOT, of reflecting on how we treat people – our neighbours, our families, our colleagues and our friends. Our truthfulness (or otherwise), our demonstration of the gifts of the spirit (or not) and the good examples we set as Christians (hopefully).
Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action (1 John 3:18).
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Articles in this issue...
The whole truth?
"Whose truth, whose lies?" is the title of an album by blues singer Douglas Macleod. During almost 50 years in the law as a practitioner, coroner and tribunal judge, William Armstrong has been engaged in seeking the truth, but whose truth? What truth?More
The truth of the matter: build wells
Anna Walker and Rihanna Cracknell explore some common myths around attracting and keeping young people in our churches.More
What is truth?
Pilate's famous question is the focus of Susanna Gunner's Soul Space article from the current issue of The Magazine.More
Truth – Book reviews
A selection of books on the theme of truth.More
Battling fake news – upholding truth in the media
In an age of "fake news", the role of trusted journalism is more crucial than ever. Ian Clarke looks at the challenges of being a Christian in the media.More
And the truth will set you free
Philip Bell from King's Lynn tells the story of his journey from homelessness to hope.More
A poet’s approach to gospel truth
Poet-priest Malcom Guite invites us to take a poet's perspective to Biblical truth.More