Truth and Honesty in Christian Life Application
Pr. P. T. Thomas
The seene is the court room of Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the embodiment of absolute truth stands trial. In answer to Pilate’s question Jesus said: “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Pilate was all confused and he exclaimed: ‘What is truth?’
The Roman court of law was famous for justice. To this day, ‘Justinian’s code’ is considered the basic tenet of jurisprudence. Pilate asking this question in such a court of law is pertinent. It reflects the confusion prevailing in the realm of justice. The majority of secular scholars is of opinion that there is no absolute truth. They hold that truth is relative. In some cases, truth may prove harmful or even disastrous. ‘Season it with diplomacy’, they say, ‘and use your practical wisdom and prudence.’ Even the expression ‘white lie’ has gained currency. It is in such contexts that a born again believer finds himself in a dilemma.
Truth and Honesty
Truth and honesty at a superficial look, may appear like identical terms or even synonyms. But a closer look makes them different. Truth, taken as ‘it is, is objective. But honesty is subjective. Truth is presenting the real fact as it is without colouring or prejudice. But honesty has a trace of loyalty or personal relationship and allegiance. ‘Honest to what?’ ‘Honest to whom?’ are implied queries. So when one has to be honest to his calling and ideology, truth is likely to lose its sharpness and get coloured. Then honesty may prevail over truth and truth will lose its true identity. But if one is honest to truth, this degeneration is ruled out. Then truth and honesty go hand in hand and in harmony.
A born again believer has accepted Jesus Christ, not only as his Saviour, but as his Lord and Master too. He has accepted Jesus’ death as his own death. It is no longer he who lives, but Christ lives in him (Galatians 2:20). He has no more personal interest or selfish motive. He is honest to the solemn, pledge of oath he has taken at the time of salvation.
It is sealed and confirmed by the holy sacrament of baptism wherein he has partaken in the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord. So to him, being honest is being honest to God and honest to truth. An honest Christian upholds truth and honest at all times and in all situations. His exclusive loyalty and allegiance is to God and God alone. So he can honestly uphold the truth. He seeks to please no one else, not even himself, but only God. Hence he does not dilute the truth for fear of alienating or displeasing anyone.
What is Truth?
This question Pilate asked has been reverberating in the minds of millions across the globe, spanning centuries. Before Pilate stood absolute truth as the living person. In unequivocal terms had He described Himself: “ I am the way, the truth and the life.” But Pilate could not recognize Him and acknowledge Him as the truth. This is the problem even today. The puzzle of life, death and eternity is clearly answered in the person of the truth-even Jesus Christ. But people rebelliously refuse to accept the truth. Born again believers have realized the truth and they leave the ranks of the confused millions and join the ‘side of truth’. As they have known the truth, truth has set them free. The Son of God is the truth and He has made them free indeed (John 8:32, 36).
Truth and Freedom
The truly free man fears only God and he can boldly uphold the truth. He who is liberated by the Son of God fears no man, or devil or even death. He takes his bold stand on the side of truth, come what may. It is the fear of man that dissuades one from standing for the truth. Only he who is free indeed can uphold truth. Hypocrisy and pretence are alien to his nature. He has an open heart and mind before God and keeps up a sincere relationship with his fellowmen.
Truth is Feared
It is said that in a war, truth is the first casualty. It is true not only in war, but always and all places of life. Truth is stifled, twisted, mangled and even murdered. Truth has to suffer such brutality and injustice because it is feared by man. Man is so scared of reality and truth that he dares not face it. Stark realities and truths are toned down and diluted using euphemisms. For example, the news about the sudden demise of a dear one is communicated using less blunt words. We just beat about the bush, tone down the sharpness and communicate the idea using suggestions. It is because we are too weak to take the shock of the reality. This nature has influenced all avenues of life, including spirituality.
‘Do not Lie to Each Other’ (Colo. 3:9)
At the opening part of the epistle, to the Colossians, Apostle Paul calls them: “… the holy and faithful brothers in Christ.” After calling them so, no one would expect Paul to mistrust them: ‘Do not lie to each other.” It sounds too cheap and below the standard for the holy ones in Colosse. But the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle to instruct them so. It is because no one is above the possibility of telling lies. Telling lie is natural to everyone. Along with this instruction, Paul adds: “… since you have taken off your old self with its practices. It is the accustomed practice of the old self to tell lies. As we have put off that old self, we should be vary of it propping its head and re-asserting itself.
Flattery and Greed (1 Thess. 2:6)
People love others speaking well and high of them. It is good that the virtues in others are acknowledged and appreciated. But quite often it slips to the level of flattery. Selfish people use this hook to bewitch others and exploit them to gratify their greed. When one uses flattery to advance his cause and succeeds, others will follow suit. Then it tends to become a common practice. It no longer will be seen as an evil. If anyone dares to keep away from this evil he will be ostracized and even troubled. This has almost become the established pattern in the spiritual circles today. It is outright deception and false. He who is on the side of truth should keep away from such untruthful practices.
Be Like New-born Infants (1 Pet. 2:1-2)
Apostle Peter exhorts us to be like new-born babies and crave for the pure milk of the word of God. For that one has put away malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind. Hypocrisy is an abomination to God. Truthfulness and honesty pleases the heart of God. Being like new-born babies does not mean that we may be gullible simpletons. Sure, we have to be discerning, wise and practical. We need not tell all the truth to everybody. But all that we tell must be truth only. It is exercising control over our tongue. We can sin with our tongue. Tongue can prove sharper than the sword. Apostle James gives a beautiful description of the tongue in his epistle (3:2-12). It is presented as a fire of hell. We are on the side of truth. Our tongues should be instruments of peace, comfort and blessings. The embodiment of truth is our Lord and Master let us be His true disciples as messengers of truth and be honest to our heavenly calling.