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HOW DO WE TREAT THE TRUTH?

Someone observed, "Know the truth and it will make you free. Speak the truth and you may get a punch in the nose." The less than impressive truth about human beings is that we often do not want to hear the truth and we make it hard on those who insist on telling us the truth. Jesus noted this troubling tendency in human nature in the parable of the vineyard owner in Mark 12:1-8. Likening God to an  absentee vineyard owner who leased out his vineyard to middle men, Jesus notes the violent way Israel's religious leaders had historically reacted to messengers from God. This treatment including "beating, stoning, wounding them in the head, and shameful treatment" (12:3-4). Finally, when Jesus came (the "beloved son" in the parable), "they took him and killed him and cast him out of the vineyard" (12:6-8).

The Bible notes a number of different ways people react to and treat the truth. Jeremiah was thrown into a dungeon after King Zedekiah and his princes didn't like the prophet's inspired advice (Jeremiah 38:6). In Acts 14:19, those who opposed the gospel at Lystra "stoned the apostle Paul, dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead." Earlier, at Antioch in Pisidia, Gentiles who heard the gospel "begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath .... and the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word or God" (Acts 13:42, 44). But not everybody treats the truth the same. In the passage just mentioned, in the same city, reacting to the same apostle and the same message, Acts 13:45 says "the Jews were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul." Gospel preachers may have people who oppose what they preach, even when what they preach is the gospel truth. In Psalm 119:97 an inspired writer said, "Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day." Yet in 2 Timothy 3:8 we read of some who "resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith." Later in 2 Timothy 4:15 Paul warns his young preaching friend Timothy to beware a man named Alexander, "for he has greatly resisted our words." When the rich young ruler was challenged by Jesus to trade in his earthly riches for heavenly treasures, "he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions." Mad, sad, or glad that just about sums up the range of reactions the truth received in Bible times. The truth of God is always loved by some and loathed by others. The important thing to remember is that my reaction to the truth is not a judgement on it but a judgement on me. How do you treat God's truth?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ