These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another, render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace, do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, says the LORD." (Zechariah 8:16-17 RSV)
My father and I were sitting in the living room, as always waiting for my mother to get ready before we left for Sunday School. Somehow the conversation drifted into one about absolute truth. “Just because you’re not lying doesn’t mean you’re telling the truth,” I offered. The subject had been bandied about before so this time I was ready with an example of what I meant.
Several years before I had been party to a conversation with a fellow teenager at church who had earned a reputation for having a wild streak. She confessed she had gotten around her mother’s probing her about her whereabouts one night by countering with a statement meant to deflect her mother’s prying. “Suzy had a party last night,” she volunteered. Now she didn’t go to Suzy’s party, but she asserted she wasn’t lying to her mother as she hadn’t made that claim. As you can easily see, this was a technicality that doesn’t pass God’s litmus test for telling the truth, nor should it ours.
Using the truth as a convenience or crutch when it suits us, or just when it works to our advantage like one of the commonplace conversational tools is to abuse the privilege. Dealing in half-truths out of some misguided desire to placate our audience, whether in the public or private sector hardly advances our cause. We shouldn’t, out of complacency, allow the fabric of our society to decline to the point we accept varying degrees of truth as the norm as if truth exists on a sliding scale. In an age where truth is a slippery thing in the hands of politicians and the media, isn’t it up to the church to take a firm stand on this bedrock principle?
Dear Lord, Please help us to make a practice of telling the truth in all our dealings so the world can readily recognize we are your people. Amen.