It’s true! Telling the truth IS important. If you’ve found this post through search, we’re towards the end of a series on Communicating God’s Way in our marriages. Today we’re talking about the importance of telling the truth. All the time.
We want to learn how to recognize actual truth for ourselves, we want to know what the Bible means when it says to speak the truth in love, and we want to walk away from this article deeply committed, as the saying goes, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in our marital communication.
Before we dive into that, let’s have a little recap of what we’ve already covered in this series:
Week One – What Does the Bible Say About Communication in Relationships?
Week Two – Practice Humility: How to Get Rid of The Log in Your Eye
Week Three – Learn to Listen: Essential Communication Skills
Week Four – The Negative Effects of Assumptions and Presumptions
Week Five – Manipulation in Communication: 5 Common Manipulation Tactics to Avoid
Week Six – Gaslighting Tactics: 7 Examples of Manipulation in Relationships to Take Seriously.
What IS Truth? Be Honest with Yourself First
Proverbs 14:8 – The prudent understand where they are going, but fools deceive themselves.
Absolutely foundational to our ability to tell the truth, is our knowledge OF the truth and of its importance. Knowing and telling the truth is important to God. That’s the bottom line. But we’ve been taught to believe that truth is relative, and our inborn nature tells us that keeping the truth hidden is a means of self-preservation.
We instinctually believe telling people what they want to hear, instead of what is true, will lead to better jobs, better relationships, greater success, fewer fights, and greater happiness all around. So much so that we can even start to convince ourselves that maybe what they want to hear is true. Or at least, their truth…
But true wisdom (that rooted in Scripture) tells a different story.
Proverbs 17:20 – The crooked heart will not prosper; the lying tongue tumbles into trouble.
Proverbs 21:6 – Wealth created by a lying tongue is as vanishing as a mist and a deadly trap.
Proverbs 19:1 – Better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and a fool.
Proverbs 19:9 – A false witness will not go unpunished, and a liar will be destroyed.
I’ve thought and thought about it over the years, what makes us (me) so quick to believe we’re going to be safer if we don’t tell the truth? Why, when I know how God feels about the importance of telling the truth, do I still cower into deception?
There are a lot of facets to the answers I’ve come up with: We believe we’ll get away with it, we don’t actually believe that telling the truth is important in every case, we want to appear better than we really are, we actually enjoy delving into those dark places in secret, and we’ve been told there is no absolute truth and too many of us have allowed ourselves to believe it (at least on some level). But what every answer ultimately boils down to is, we are all full of pride.
Basically, it’s because we’re sinners!
John 8:43-45 – Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. So when I tell you the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me!
The Importance of Telling the Truth
But the good news is, though that may be our natural instinct, it is not who we have to be anymore. We have been set free from the clutches of the enemy. We don’t belong to him anymore. We can choose to submit ourselves to the Lord and His absolute truth.
John 17:14-17 – I have given them Your Word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I do. Make them holy by Your TRUTH; teach them Your WORD, which IS TRUTH.
John 16:13-14 – When the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own but will tell you what He has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring Me glory by telling you whatever He receives from Me.
There is truth and there is untruth. There isn’t my truth or your truth, there is only actual truth. Every single thing we say is either true or it isn’t. As children of God, we have access to the Word of God (the Bible) which is truth, and the Spirit of Truth, who lives within each of us and is ready and willing to lead us to truth.
We can look to the Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to lead us and then speak truth to the lies our pride tells us to believe.
- Pride’s Lie #1 – I’ll get away with it.
- God’s Truth – Proverbs 12:19 – Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed.
- Pride’s Lie #2 – It’s not always important to tell the truth. There are times when a white lie is the better choice.
- God’s Truth – Proverbs 12:22 (ESV) – Lying lips are and abomination to the Lord, but those who are faithful are His delight.
- Pride’s Lie #3 – I need to appear better than I really am.
- God’s Truth – Proverbs 28:13 – People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.
- Pride’s Lie #4 – Indulging in our secret sins brings pleasure.
- God’s Truth – Galatians 6:7-8 – Don’t be misled – you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.
- Pride Lie #5 – There is no absolute truth
- God’s Truth – 1 John 1:6 – So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth.
Speak Truth in Love
Colossians 3:9 – 10 – Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like Him.
Perhaps there is one more lie we’ve believed that causes some of us to ignore the importance of telling the truth. We should address it. Some of us have genuinely been convinced that when the truth is hurtful it is sometimes more loving to lie than to tell the truth.
Ephesians 4 is a great chapter of the Bible to address this error in our thinking. In verses 17-19 it talks about how the godless live. It says their minds are full of darkness and it has made them hopelessly confused. It talks about how they stumble through life indulging in sin. Then it says we don’t have to live like that.
How? By putting off our old sinful ways and putting on our new nature in Christ. The very first example is this:
Ephesians 4:25 – So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.
There is something different about people who are following God with their lives. When they are joined together in unity, functioning as one body, there is a unique beauty that can be found nowhere else in the world. One of the things that makes it so special, is that it is based in truth.
Proverbs 27:5-6 – An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.
As the verse above from Proverbs stated, “an open rebuke is better than hidden love.” We actually do more good for one another when we are willing to be honest, even when the truth hurts. It keeps us from walking around like the godless – confused and full of darkness.
But that doesn’t mean we go around just blurting out hurtful truths and being harsh and hateful with one another. Remember that one of the things 1 Corinthians 13 teaches us about love is that it is gentle. We need to learn to speak truth in love.
Ephesians 4:13-15 – This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.
Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.
Telling the Truth is Important to God
I know we’ve already said it, but it’s just so important, so let’s say it again. Though we are intuitively predisposed to keep secrets, deceive, and outright lie, the Bible is about as clear as it could possibly be that God is passionate about the importance of telling the truth. It probably has something to do with the fact that He IS truth!
Proverbs 6:16-19 – There are six things the Lord hates – no, seven things He detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.
Revelation 21:8 – But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars – their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.
Seriously, we could go on and on and on with this. I could hit my self-imposed 3000-word limit for blog posts with nothing more than verses that make it clear our God wants His people to tell the truth! (1 Timothy 4:1-2, Revelation 22:14-15, Psalm 5:6, Psalms 101:6-8, Proverbs 19:9, Proverbs 15:4, Acts 5: 3-5, Romans 3:10-18, Proverbs 13:5, Zephaniah 3:13, 1 Peter 3:9-12, Psalms 120:1-4, and SO many more!)
Everything we know about God says that if He wants us to do something, then doing it accomplishes some higher purpose that brings good. Not just our good, but greater good. So even though our instincts tell us otherwise, we need to learn to understand and believe the benefits God has for those who live with integrity in this area.
John 8:31-32 – Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
I’ll cut straight to the point here. There is freedom in honesty, and a marked lack thereof in deception. When we tell the truth, no matter the perceived implications, we release our intrinsic need to control and instead choose to trust God. And my friends, joy and peace are found there!
Proverbs 12:20 – Deceit fills hearts that are plotting evil; joy fills hearts that are planning peace!
Proverbs 26:28 – A lying tongue hates its victims and flattering words cause ruin.
Psalms 145:18 – The Lord is close to all who call on Him, yes, to all who call on Him in truth.
When I am more concerned with covering my own rear end than I am with obedience to God, my life begins to be filled with what boils down to evil plotting. I waste time thinking about ways to avoid having to address the issue I’m trying to keep hidden. Anxiety creeps in as I worry about every possible wrench that may get thrown into my plan, and how that might get me into trouble, and how I’ll be able to talk my way out of it if it happens.
On the other hand, when I trust God with the outcome and just choose obedience, I free myself up to experience joy. I also demonstrate love to the people in my life by honoring them with the truth and allowing them to choose how they’ll respond rather than trying to preemptively manage their reactions.
1 Peter 2:1 – So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech.
Indeed, let us stop telling lies and in obedience to God, replace that tendency with active truth telling. Let’s allow this practice to become a part of our whole life, but let’s be especially committed to it within our marriages. For even more than we are one body with our fellow believers, we are united into one flesh with one another in marriage! Let’s honor each other enough to tell the truth!