Wednesday, February 17
The truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth
Scripture: Leviticus 5-6, Acts 24
Acts 24:5–6 We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect 6 and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him.
After being arrested in Jerusalem and spirited away to Caesarea in the middle of the night, Paul faced a trial before Governor Felix. Tertullus, a lawyer for the Jews, presented charges that were true, partially true, and untrue.
- “We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among Jews all over the world.” PARTIALLY TRUE. It was true that trouble seemed to follow Paul, including riots. But he wasn’t the one stirring them up and causing them; it was his opponents. Paul shared the gospel, then his opponents rioted or created disturbances to stop him.
- “He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect.” TRUE. Paul was one of the most prominent leaders of the early church.
- “and even tried to desecrate the temple.” FALSE. Paul did no such thing; in fact, he was in the act of obeying the Jewish law and customs when arrested.
Felix allowed Paul to defend himself and answer these charges—he heard both sides. Then his job was to discern what was true and untrue and render a judgment. Unfortunately, Felix was a mixed bag himself (like all of us) and was more concerned with getting a bribe than getting to the truth.
Like Felix, I have to make judgments about what I hear—what is true, untrue or partially true. It’s very difficult, especially with different streams of media touting vastly different narratives. It’s so important to hear both sides, like Felix did. And it’s important, when possible, to do some fact checking. When I’ve done this, I’ve discovered that even reliable sources sometimes unintentionally misrepresent the facts. And of course, some do it intentionally, telling only part of the truth—the part that supports their desired conclusion or outcome—or outright falsehoods.
It’s so important to do our due diligence, to listen to both sides, and to be slow to make judgments until we can check the facts. This is what is supposed to happen in our courts every day. It’s how justice is supposed to work: the truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Sadly, truth has become a personalized commodity in our culture. Each person has “my truth,” which makes nonsense of the concepts of truth and justice.
I want to question everything I hear and read. Get to the source. Know the facts. Discover the truth.
Prayer: Lord, help me—help us, help our nation—to value truth again, and be willing to do the hard work of discovery: getting to the facts as best we can.