What Is It About Truth?

“When Herod heard John he was greatly puzzled, yet he liked to listen to him.” (Mark 6:20)

After Herod had John the Baptist imprisoned, he would visit him, apparently fascinated by the things that John had to say.

Why did Herod like to listen to John?  Because John spoke the truth, and truth is attractive. 

Jesus told Pilate that the reason he came into the world was to testify to the truth.  Pilate, though the embodiment of all truth was standing right in front of him, asked, “What is truth? (John 18:37-38)

There is a purity in the truth that makes it attractive.  We have several common expressions about truth:

  • “Honesty is the best policy”
  • “As God is my witness”
  • “As a matter of fact”
  • “The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teachings, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”  (John 8:32) There is freedom that comes with the truth – freedom from guilt, fear and sin.  All four gospels report how people were amazed at the wisdom of Jesus’ teachings and how he taught with authority.  Truth carries a certain authority with it.

From earliest childhood, our sinful human nature tends to obscure the truth to protect our selfish instincts.  One sibling blames another for starting a fight.  We begin to lie to cover up misbehavior and sinful conduct.  Without strong parental guidance and moral teaching, truth is increasingly pushed aside.

We deal with issues of truth in the practical aspects of daily life, and in the context of the larger questions of life itself.

On the practical level, as a former lawyer for a corporation, I was regularly called on to interpret whether certain proposed actions of the company were consistent with applicable law.  From time to time, the proposed action was in direct conflict with what a particular law or regulation required.  I would have to overcome the tendency to tell the affected manager what he wanted to hear, and instead hold to the truth that his proposed action would run afoul of the law.  In those cases, I would always try to suggest alternative actions that would satisfy both the company objective and the law.

On the philosophical level, from the very beginning of human history and to this very day, the human race has been searching for truth in terms of who we are, what our purpose is and how we and all that exists came to be.  The secular world looks to philosophy and reason to grapple with these questions.  The Judeo Christian world looks to God’s revelation in the writings of the prophets, scripture and the words of Jesus.

Truth is attractive; sets us free and lets us live out our lives with confidence.

St. Paul said, “Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.” (1Co. 13:6)  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”  (John 14:6)


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