Truth: So, What Now?
by: Erin Warren | January 26, 2017
My husband and I had the opportunity to see Wicked this past weekend. I have always loved plays and musical theatre (my mom would say I’ve always been dramatic!). We had seen it before, but the cast on this tour is amazing. We were swept away by their talent, then a line I didn’t remember snapped me back to reality. Elphaba, aka The Wicked Witch of the West, is having a conversation with The Wizard about how he tricked the citizens of Oz.
ELPHABA: It’s all just smoke and mirrors and that’s the truth!
WIZARD: THE TRUTH IS NOT A THING OF FACT OR REASON. THE TRUTH IS JUST WHAT EV’RYONE AGREES ON.
Here I was again, face-to-face with my word for the year: truth. I’m so thankful that God isn’t just all smoke and mirrors. The Wizard is wrong, because the truth isn’t just what everyone agrees on. The truth is true whether we believe it or not. Over the last three weeks, we’ve explored what truth really is, but what do we do with truth?
2 Timothy is Paul’s last known letter. He’s writing to Timothy, his spiritual son, and he really seems to just lay it all out to Timothy, who was serving at the church Paul started in Ephesus. In this letter, Paul gives us three responsibilities to the truth.
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4
Responsibility #1: Open Our Ears
“Mommy, can we have dessert?”
“No, it’s too close to bedtime.”
What do I usually catch my kids doing after I’ve said no? “Dad?!” They go ask my husband! They seek out the answer they want to hear. If they aren’t in agreement with the first answer, they move to the next source of authority.
What struck me about this passage was that Paul wasn’t warning Timothy about false prophets; he was warning him about people’s fickle hearts. He was saying a time was coming where people would seek out teachers who said what they wanted to hear instead of what was true. Doesn’t that describe where we are today? Myths and partial truths and flat out lies surround us and are taking captive the hearts of not only the world, but even within the church. Honestly, the twisted truths sound good. We have to open our ears to God’s truth. We have to be willing to listen to His Word, His Spirit as they guide and direct us in truth.
Just one chapter earlier, in 2 Timothy 3, Paul gets even more real. Y’all, when I read this verse, my jaw hit the floor.
“People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having the form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. They are the kind who worm their way into home and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.” 2 Timothy 3:2-7 (NIV, emphasis mine)
Responsibility #2: Open Our Hearts
Did you catch that? Paul isn’t saying that these people who are lovers of these sinful acts will look like the world; he’s talking about people who look godly and say the right things but have not allowed God to change their hearts. I don’t want to be a woman like Paul mentions in verse 7: one who studies and studies God’s Word, but it never penetrates my heart. My prayer for the women of First Orlando this year is that we will be strong women, who open our hearts to God’s truth. I don’t want us to go to another Bible study without allowing the truths we read to change us. I pray that one year from today, we look back and see that we have moved closer to Jesus, that we look more like Him than we do today.
Once we have opened our ears to hear His truth and opened our hearts to allow it to change us, it’s time for the final responsibility:
“Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:14-19
Responsibility #3: Open Our Mouths
My husband is a numbers guy; he loves an Excel spreadsheet. One day, he was working on a presentation and trying to build visuals to support his data. If you’ve ever built slides and presentations, you know that you have to be concise and direct because you only have so much space. He just looked at me and said, “Words are hard. I prefer numbers.” Words are hard and they hold great power. Here, Paul gives a charge to use our words appropriately.
In the first part, he warns against quarrelling. The original language used here means “to wrangle about empty and trifling matters.” He says that it will ruin those who hear the fight. You know what the word used for ruin is here? Katastrophē. Does that look familiar?! Our senseless and pointless arguments only lead to catastrophe. But, in the second part of the passage, Paul charges us instead to rightly handle the word of truth. Other versions say “accurately” handle. It means to cut straight – as in, “to proceed on straight paths; to teach correctly.”
We need not be ashamed of the truth. We don’t need to pick up our signs and take to the streets, but I do think we need to open our mouths correctly. Yes, there’s an element of grace and love that we need to cling to in our words, but we need to be careful as followers of Christ not to sweep truth under the rug in the name of love. Earlier this month, Beth Moore spoke to 50,000 college students gathered in Atlanta for Passion 2017, and one her quotes summed it up better than I ever could:
“You will watch a generation of Christians — OF CHRISTIANS — set the Bible aside in an attempt to become more like Jesus. And stunningly it will sound completely plausible. This will be perhaps the cleverest of all the devil’s schemes in your generation. Sacrifice TRUTH for LOVE’s sake. And you will rise or fall based upon whether you will sacrifice one for the other. Will you have the courage to live in the tension of both TRUTH and LOVE?” – Beth Moore
Can we do that? Can we be bold enough to open our ears to His truth? Can we be vulnerable enough open our hearts to be changed by His truth? Can we be brave enough to open our mouths correctly in sharing His truth?
I’m excited that we will have Beth Moore in person at the UCF CFE Arena in late April. We have purchased a block of tickets for First Orlando Women that includes a lunch immediately following the conclusion of the event on that Saturday. Consider it a Girls’ Weekend Out! Will you join us? Click here for more information.
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