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Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Whole Truth

As the nervous witness stepped to the platform and tried to settle into the hard chair, the stern-faced bailiff thrust a well worn Bible into his comfort zone and ordered him to “place your hand on the Bible and repeat after me . . . I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God”.

Serious words. The truth can condemn a man or the truth can set him free. Nothing should be easier than telling what we know or what we have seen. A small child or an uneducated person should be able to tell the truth with no effort. Then why does it strike fear into our heart? Why does it cause our knees to shake and our heart to race?

An accomplished liar is gifted, trained, self-taught, or best of all self-delusional. Well-meaning liars see this way of presenting ‘reality’ as necessary for self-preservation or the protection of another person or ideology. They view this as an artful way of justifying themselves, to keep peace or make the world a better place. On the other hand, the art of lying has been especially useful to certain politicians and sales people. Some of the best liars may be commended for their creativity. Their victims are viewed as sheep in need of shearing. Did I say ‘victims’? Herein lies the downside of lying. There are always victims.

Some lies come in the form of unsubstantiated opinions stated as fact or sometimes silence in the face of pressure.

There are moral and ethical laws of the universe. Among the most basic of these laws are the Ten Commandments. These laws are always ‘enforced’. Some people look at the Commandments as an anachronistic and irrelevant vestige of a peevish and negative God. This could be the reaction of an uninformed worldview. This is the position of the immature or those who want to be their own “god’. After all, how can I run the world my way if I have the interference of a competing God?

Many times the consequences of breaking a Commandment are not revealed until much later. The 9th Commandment states, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor”. Can you imagine a world where everyone who sat on the witness stand gave a truthful report of what he or she knew about the matter in question? This without the cajoling, badgering and leading (misleading) interrogation by an intimidating lawyer? How about a sales presentation where you heard only the facts about the product whether positive or negative? How refreshing would it be to have a government official who owned his mistakes and promised only what he could deliver and recognized his limitations.

Truth is always “enforced”. There are always benefits when it is followed. There are always negative consequences when it is not. The world would be a better place if truth were universally practiced.

Jesus said, “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free”.

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