Tell the Truth

We Don’t Like to Make Waves

I was reading Jeremiah, and the thought hit me that we are so embedded in our society that we really have problems when people dislike us. (I’m really talking about myself.) In Jeremiah 20:7, he tells God that he has become a laughing stock and people mock him. Why? God tells Jeremiah that He will bring calamity on Jerusalem because the people have stopped listening to Him. Jeremiah is to tell the people. But Jeremiah feels shame from the people because he has been telling them God’s Word and they did not like it.

Aren’t we still of the same mold as the people of Jeremiah’s day? Do we think well of others when they tell us that we have done things that hurt others and ourselves and most of all we’ve rebelled against God’s Word? NO! Not even if what has been said about us is the truth. So what do we do? I don’t know about you, but I want to fight back. I want this truth telling to just go away. I want to say, “Get out of my face.” or better still, I may tell them that they are not saints with words that will cut to their very heart as through through steel. We turn on them to deflect what they are saying. Truth is the last thing that we want to hear at that moment, and we don’t handle it very well. We’ve got to cut that person down or literally destroy them. That is what the folks were doing to Jeremiah, and he had difficulty dealing with their cutting words and darts.

Jeremiah was the bearer of truth so they wanted him out of their face. If necessary they intended to kill him. Regardless of what they wanted to do to him he had to get into their face and tell them the truth. The question is, did he want to tell the truth or did he want to fend off all their arrows of dislike from his friends? It seems his big concern was all the arrows of hate fired back at him for telling the truth. He didn’t with great joy say, “Lord I’m gonna’ take your truth and with great thrill run out and tell all the people. “ I can understand why. In verse 2 we read:

Pashhur had Jeremiah the prophet beaten and put him in the stocks that were at the upper Benjamin Gate, which was by the house of the LORD. (NASB)

Now that is a pretty good reason to object to telling them the truth. In verse 18 he makes it pretty plain to God how he felt about the whole situation. He felt that his life was one big shame all because he told the truth and it went against the crowd. His concern was more about what they thought of him than what God was telling him to do. (Now it may seem that I’m being a little harsh on Jeremiah, but I’m just looking at one aspect of Jeremiah, so don’t jump to conclusions.)

Oh how I feel for Jeremiah. He wanted to be liked by his friends and so do we. We don’t like to be in conflict with people and we want them to like us. We want good, kind words said on our behalf. BUT sometimes it is necessary to tell or follow truth. Now here is the dilemma. Being an imperfect, sinful human being I don’t really know truth, but still it must be said or dealt with. What great internal turmoil abounds when I know truth must be expressed but I’m not sure what the truth is and am frightened what others will think. So I’m between a rock and a hard place, as the old expression goes. On the other hand I may know truth from God, but I fear what others will say or do to me.

I fear them destroying my reputation because that is easily done. All they have to do is mention one negative thing about me and what they said takes on a life of its own as it travels around among my fellow workers, neighborhood or family. I fear they will get me fired. James tells us basically that we can be destroyed by the words of other people. So there is cause for concern when I tell truth. Or maybe they will stop talking to me. Social isolation is a great deterrent from offending others. I think if I tell them the truth they’ll stop liking me. (This is big with teenagers.) Or maybe they will attack me and I will feel guilty. Once I feel guilty I’m under their control. I will behave in ways that are out of the normal. So our friends, neighbors, fellow workers and enemies have a real arsenal of tools with which to destroy us in society. Jeremiah was truly between a rock and a hard place, but thank God he carried out God’s commands and told the truth to his friends.

So what do we do? Do we run? Do we drown ourselves in some activity that removes us from the situation at hand? Do we worry and think about it and hope it will go away? Do we go into a long deep state of despair? NO! Please NO! What do I do? I try to bury my mind in God. I read His Word. I pray and ask God for courage to accept the arrows and ask Him to help me with the truth. Will doing all those things make the arrows go away? Nope! Those arrows from others will never stop coming. We may get relief for awhile but then look up and see them coming unexpectedly. In fact they may come more often and faster. But by burying myself in God’s love and grace and asking Him for His strength we will draw closer to our Comforter, Creator and Redeemer with confidence that truth is more important than being liked and patted on the back by other people. He promises us that He will be with us. In Matthew 28:20, Jesus told His apostles in some of His last instruction “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” He was telling them to go into the world where they could expect death. He had been killed and they would face the same fate because of Him. But since He was God and had come out of the grave, He had the power to help them with courage and His truth would be powerful. Now I don’t know about you, but this is the kind of power and strength and courage that I need when I need to say the truth, because I am a puny human wanting others to say good things about me. I want them to like me.

May God richly bless you in your struggles with wanting people to like you and say good things about you. Maybe truth is more important!

Soli Deo Gloria

Sola Fide

Dewey Wise

January 21, 2009

Hope Fruit and Berry Farm

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