Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth…

I recall my very first job interview; it was for an apprenticeship which I eventually won and then four years hence, completed. I was asked a question which I couldn’t answer. I got a surprising response. The interviewers were happy that I didn’t know.

They said a little bit of knowledge was more dangerous than none at all--at least they had a better prospect to work with if I knew nothing on the particular topic they were interested in. It has been a resounding memory for me.

I told a partial truth recently. We all do I’m sure. I told someone very dear to me 80 percent of the story in fear that 100 percent of the truth would upset them, and put my relationship with them at jeopardy.

It was one of those conversations a bit like fishing; I gave out more and more line (information) as long as the other person only nibbled at the bait (accepting for that moment, the truth provided); if they’d have taken the tackle I would not have divulged everything. Later I regretted the action, as we often do, and I went to the person and ‘fessed up,’ explaining my reasons, and they were very gracious with me.

A.W. Tozer says in his book, The Worship Driven Life, “Every religion in the world has a basis of truth about it. It starts with some truth and then moves away from it subtly and maliciously.”[1] And again, “You can tell someone something and not actually lie to him or her but so present the truth that it keeps him or her from the truth.”[2]

Partial truths are actually lies, because they’re disguised (maliciously) to deceive whether we realise it or not. Partial truths like part omissions and exaggerations are dangerous because they insidiously creep into our language and experience and we don’t even realise it half the time. In fact, our culture encourages exaggeration particularly well.

We will often not tell the full truth (which is the same as lying) because it will cost us something.[3] Sometimes we might think people won’t like us if we tell the whole truth; the actual truth is people will respect us more over the longer run for telling the complete truth.

Two more things. We must communicate truth in loving ways, not hurtful ways. And, we must recognise that one sure way to our own inner peace is by telling the truth always.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
[1] A.W. Tozer, The Worship Driven Life, The Reason We Were Created – Ed. James L. Snyder (London: Monarch Books, 2008), p. 91.
[2] Tozer, Ibid, p. 90.
[3] Bill Hybels, Making Life Work: Putting God’s Wisdom into Action (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 91.

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