Truth is not always pleasant. Often it can be quite ugly, or hard to deal with. It can be quite confronting. It can be something we just would rather not deal with at times. Of course living in an age of comfort, ease, and self-satisfaction, any unpleasant truths or news is frowned upon and avoided.
But none of us can afford to go without the truth. Sometimes the most painful truth is the thing we most need. Consider medical truth. If you are afflicted with a deadly cancer, the number one thing you need to hear – regardless of how unpleasant it may be – is the truth about your condition.
No doctor worth his salt would ever withhold valuable information about a possibly fatal condition or illness for fear of upsetting a patient or making him feel bad. He will instead speak the truth about the cancer or whatever, and then offer steps to correct or heal things.
There would be nothing loving about denying medical truth to a patient if that truth can result in a life being saved or real healing taking place. The truth about cancer may never be pleasant, but it is always vital, and must be shared. Not to do so can have disastrous results.
Spiritually speaking this is also the case. We must always speak biblical truth, even when it seems unpalatable and unpleasant to do so. And many spiritual truths are not so nice or so pleasant. The truths about daily dying to self, crucifying our flesh, and carrying our cross are not exactly light and bubbly – but they are fundamental Christian truths nonetheless.
Telling a non-believer he is a sinner headed for future judgment unless he repents and turns from sin and self to Christ will not be seen as very pleasant either – but it is a core biblical truth which all believers are obligated to share. And fellow believers also need to be told the truth, even if it offends or stings.
Paul never shrunk away from telling the truth, even if it was costly to him. He may have lost friendships and alienated others, but truth was always something he never withheld or weakened or watered down. In fact, he got a lot of flak when he shared biblical truth.
In Galatians 4:16 for example Paul says this: “Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?” That always seems to be the case when we stand firm on the Word of God and biblical truth. It will alienate some. It will offend some. It will create enemies with some.
Jesus knew all about this. Wherever he went he stirred things up, caused controversy, made enemies, and got harsh reactions. Indeed, we are often told that the crowds were divided because of his words. It is the nature of truth to do that: either we come to the truth and embrace it, or we reject the truth and flee from it.
Yet today it seems most Christians would rather run a thousand miles away from the truth, than risk getting some opposition and flak for proclaiming it. We have a church full of invertebrates who think that not rocking the boat and not offending anyone is their highest calling.
They are terrified of getting anyone upset, so they will rather keep silent about the things that matter than boldly proclaim truth, regardless of the negative consequences. Jesus had a few things to say about those who refused to speak out.
It is not just the gospel of Jesus Christ that many believers are afraid to publicly express, but so too any words on the vital issues of the day. Our silence on things like the sanctity of life and God’s ideal of marriage and family has been deafening.
Indeed, I am fully convinced that if something like Facebook had been around 70 years ago, there would be plenty of Christians defriending you if you dared to speak out on what the Nazis were doing, or showed pictures of the Holocaust and the death camps – just as today they will defriend you for talking about abortion, and revealing its ugly face.
I know that many Christians do this all the time – they simply don’t like the controversy and big debates. They prefer to live a quiet and peaceful life, and will never deal with these massively important topics. Many will not even share the gospel for fear of offending people or ruffling feathers.
One day we will all stand before our Lord and give an account of our time here on earth. Jesus already warned us about this: “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8-9).
Of course having said all this, I do not for a moment mean to suggest that there is no need for tact, diplomacy, grace and sensitivity when presenting the truth. It goes without saying that we are to “speak the truth in love” as Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:15.
Sure, we must pray for wisdom and guidance as to if and when we speak out. Being careful and wise in how we share truth is of course important. But my point here is a different one: far too many people who call themselves followers of Christ seldom, if ever, speak forth truth.
And with people heading to a lost eternity, babies being slaughtered in the millions, and God’s provision for human sexuality taking a hammering – to name but a few important issues – such silence is morally reprehensible. We will be judged for our silence just as much as for anything we may have said or done.
The church of Jesus Christ needs some Holy Ghost boldness today, and must repent of the sin of men-pleasing and cowardice. Paul prayed for boldness to proclaim the truths of God – we must do so as well.