“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
— John 8:31b-32 (NRSV)
There is power in truth, and not simply to liberate; but to destroy also, when we deny the truth. The truth demands a choice from us; we either abide with the truth, which requires courage and humility of us, or we select cowardice by our neglect of the truth.
But the truth will get us one way or the other. We cannot run from the truth. Why would we not acknowledge truth and be liberated, in preference to being destroyed?
This is a word God gave me recently as I reflected on the refusal in some people to acknowledge the truth in their relational lives, by continually hurting loved ones:
Why should the shame and guilt of a young man burden the shoulders of an old man?
The principle is this: if we continue to deny truth in our lives, particularly as it applies in our relationships, we will only hurt ourselves. The truth will eventually destroy us, by all manner of illness of spirit. The tragic irony is a frail older man or woman must pay for the younger man or woman’s sin of nondisclosure.
Truth Now Is an Investment for the Future
When I speak in terms of “why should the shame and guilt of a young man burden the shoulders of an old man” I feel as though the young man’s (or woman’s) denial counts against the older version of them. The denial of truth catches up with them.
What tends to happen is, as people who continually deny the truth age their poor spiritual health impacts every area of their health. We notice someone who has aged markedly in the face, who may have unexplained physical ailments, who has a poorer quality of life. This, of course, is a generalisation—it happens most of the time, not all time.
When we believe in the truth sufficiently enough to let it permeate our lives, and we abide in the truth by obeying God, there are usually positive health outcomes. There are exceptions; like a pastor I know who has lived a very godly life but has battled cancer for five years. But the general principle holds: those who respect the truth will be liberated in many sorts of ways. And those who refuse to acknowledge the truth in their relational lives will suffer now and into the future.
Abiding by the truth is not only a wise choice; it’s a choice for health. When we acknowledge the truth it liberates us. When we deny the truth it destroys us. We can see how important it is to honour the truth, which is never better done than through belief in God.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.