Truth is the beginning of every good thing, both in heaven and on earth; and he who would be blessed and happy should be from the first a partaker of truth for then he can be trusted (Plato).
Trust comes from lovingly speaking truth, whether as an individual believer or as the collective community of believers, the church. By not uttering a single word, faith and love can be exhibited. At the Lord’s Table, for example, believers reverently partake of the bread and the cup, identifying with Christ’s death and anticipating his soon return. In silent unity, a message of faith is displayed. Conversely, at other times, the church may actively and loudly speak out about abortions, addictions, or other important concerns.
Speak for Yourself—or Not
Undeniably, not everyone feels comfortable with public speaking, the second greatest fear next to death. Facing an audience is an ancient fear. Moses felt inadequate when God called him to speak to the Israelite elders and to the king of Egypt. God had even told Moses what to say; yet, he objected. Moses doubted that the people would believe him, and besides, he was not eloquent. Even though God assured Moses that he would be with his mouth while teaching him what to say, he still remained afraid. “But Moses said, ‘Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else’” (Exodus 4:13).
Certainly God was angry with Moses when he chose his brother Aaron as a substitute spokesman. Now Moses was to be only the mouthpiece relaying God’s Words to articulate Aaron, and he, in turn, was to give God’s message to the Hebrews. It was Aaron, not Moses, who voiced the good news of deliverance to the Israelite slaves in Egypt, “and they believed. And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped” (v. 31).
In picking up this particular timeline of Moses, he first heard God’s voice, then transmitted his message through Aaron, and later received the written Word on stone tablets. It seems rather ironic that the same young Hebrew who earlier had the courage to kill an abusive Egyptian in the desert didn’t have enough nerve to open his mouth and speak. God’s message had to be conveyed through Aaron instead. A great man, Moses, but he missed a tremendous blessing.
Speak the Truth—the Whole Truth
Before Jesus was condemned to death, Pontius Pilate, Roman Governor of Judea, asked, “What is truth?” From Jesus’ enemies, Pilate searched for truth, coming to this conclusion about Jesus: “I find no fault in him at all” (John 18:37, 38, New King James Version). Nevertheless, Jesus was crucified, buried, and on the third day, rose from the grave.
Nearly 20 years later at Athens, the Holy Spirit moved within Paul as it seemed the entire city was submitting to idolatry. Every day, in synagogues and in the marketplace, Paul disputed with devout individuals. They called Paul a babbler and wondered what he’d say next. Paul responded at Mars’ Hill by calling them superstitious (cf. Acts 17:22, 23).
Today, attorneys are well-known for their skill with eloquent speech as orators. Even court-appointed lawyers representing indigent clients can make a pretty convincing case. In the end, a judge and jury will decide guilt based upon factual truth. Psalm 15 states that those with a blameless walk speak truth from their heart. They do not gossip, speak evil of their friends, or harm neighbors; rather, the godly keep promises even when personally detrimental. God is the righteous Judge and Rewarder (cf. Hebrews 11:6).
In reading Acts 24:1-24 (NKJV), Tertullus versus Paul is a prime example of trumped up charges devoid of truth. Tertullus began with lies and insincere flattery, including his “peace and prosperity” claims and calling Antonius Felix, “most noble” governor of Judea and Samaria. The lawyer went on to call Paul a plague and a dissenter of Jews throughout the world. He said that Paul profaned the temple and that the Jews didn’t want to judge him. No, they wanted to kill Paul . . . without a trial.
Neither Felix, Tertullus, nor the Jewish leaders could prove any of their accusations. In fact, Paul defended himself saying, “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (v. 16, NIV). Through his witness and ministry, Paul’s words deeply affected Felix, nearly convincing him to become a Christian (v. 24, 25).
Speak No Lies—Or Else
Possibly one of the greatest examples of people desiring to come together for common good is in Acts 5:1-11. Ananias and Sapphira, along with a group of believers in Jerusalem, desired to have one heart and one mind, but greed and lies prevented such fulfillment. “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21). Ananias and Sapphira died the day they lied. Speech has consequences.
From Plato we learn that a happy and blessed life comes from truth, not lies. From Scripture, we know Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Truthfully, he is the only way to God the Father.
That is a hard reality to share with nonbelievers who prefer consulting crystals or are involved in a cult. The 1967 self-help book, I’m Ok—You’re Ok by Thomas A. Harris made the New York Times Best Seller list. Granted, the book is not without merit, but if an acquaintance, coworker, friend, or relative is not a believer in Jesus as personal Savior, they are not okay. The most loving truth we can share is the gospel message.
For the Birds—So to Speak
For bird watchers and nature lovers (and who isn’t?), consider the correlation between starlings and believers. To watch a flock of starlings is an extraordinary sight as they move in unison like a “dance of motion.” Hundreds of pairs of wings produce what is called “murmurations,” a low, continuous distinct sound. Starlings are splendid singers, making up a heavenly chorus with the ability to warble, whistle, chatter, or produce smooth sounds to communicate their location or danger.
Each starling is connected to and influenced by every other bird in the flock. With a predator nearby, starlings move in unison, changing speed along with their neighbors, near or far. Transcending science, the speed in which flocks simultaneously process signals is still unknown to researchers.
Wouldn’t it be a blessed sight and sound for Christians to join in a dance of motion like starlings? We would automatically reject gossip, false witness, and lying tongues. When the evil predator distorts truth through what the Bible calls “scoundrels, trouble makers, and violent people,” all believers could synchronize their response in accordance with God’s Word. “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity” (Psalm 133:1).
Unlike starlings, believers need a leader. God sent Jesus to shepherd his people while on earth; he left his Holy Spirit to guide us, and today calls pastors, elders, and teachers to shepherd God’s flock. Why? Paul wrote, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).
When Jesus returns in the air for his flock, all believers will fly away, singing, “Hallelujah” in perfect harmony!
Effie-Alean Gross is a freelance writer who recently retired from teaching and real estate sales. With roots in Iowa, she has enjoyed living in the Phoenix area since 1990.
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