What’s in a Word? – Truth

It’s no secret—mankind has a complicated relationship with truth.

We want people to give it to us straight, except when truth hurts. And it often does! A lot of times, even when we want truth, we want it told to us in a way that doesn’t hurt our feelings or evoke a negative reaction. But what about when truth doesn’t pull its punches; what if there’s no easy way around what’s right? How do we relate to truth when, as the saying goes, “The truth hurts”?

I think this is part of the reason we’ve created almost a worldwide culture where truth is divided into little segments…you have “your truth” and I have “my truth” and in order to keep anyone from getting cut on sharp edges, we’ll just accept that both our truths are equally real and valid.

Yet if we’re all arbiters of  different truths, aren’t we enslaved in a different way? We make ourselves all gods responsible for upholding, proclaiming, and defending our own truth. Without universal truth,  we cannot ever be fully set free; we become enslaved to the dance of moving around my truth, your truth, his truth, her truth, without any command standard to which humanity can be held. I can’t hold you to my standard and you can’t hold me to yours; suddenly we are all walking around shackled to a nebulous concept of what truth truly is and if anyone’s truth has more weight than another’s and if so, what’s the standard of that? How do we decide what’s the standard, and how do we know that standard is true?

This is why truth sets us free; because while truth may not always be easy, while truth may hurt, it is a solid foundation we can stand on. Universal truth remains true regardless of our opinions, emotions, thoughts, or feelings. Odd as it may seem, it’s when we are rooted in truth that we are the freest of all; because within the boundaries of what is true, we can run our race, knowing we are not about to go plummeting into oblivion.

What is Truth?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines truthas “the body of real things, events, and facts.”

I would postulate that there are two kinds of truth: subjective and universal. They are not the same, but I think quite often they’re treated as if they are.

Subjective truth is the state of mind we’re living in. For example, if I speak my truth about a situation, I could say, “Spiders are scary.” This is subjectively true for me, but not universally true for spiders, as some people love them and even have them as pets! In another example, relationally speaking, my truth could be “I think John Smith is out to get me.” What’s true about this is I really believe it about John; but the universal truth may be that it was all a misunderstanding. Subjective truth is often rooted in feelings, emotions, or personal experience.

Universal truth remains steady despite one’s subjective opinion. Notice “truth” is defined as the body of “REAL things, events, facts.” As real as the emotion or feeling may be – enough to make you cry when a spider walks on you or enough to make you avoid John Smith at a company picnic – the truth can still be that the spider poses no threat and neither does John.

We have to be careful not to mistake subjective truth (what I feel based on my perception) with universal truth (what is real despite how I may feel about it). Because while everyone’s subjective truth is valid—how something makes them feel or think—that doesn’t make it universally true. And we get in murky waters when we mistake one for the other.

What Does the Bible Say About Truth?

John 8:32 – And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

1 John 3:18 – Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Ephesians 4:15 – Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…

How Can I Find Deeper Truth?

One of, if not the #1 way to find Truth, is by searching God’s Word. Now, I know for some this is a daunting charge – like, where do I even start? Especially if you’ve been reading the Bible your whole life, it can feel like familiar passages go in one eye and out the other!

One thing I have found helpful is to shake up the style in which I’m reading. I’ll read the Gospels, then the Epistles; then I’ll reread some of my favorites, in a different version, discovering new truths among the pages. Currently I’m reading the Bible chronologically and learning so many new details about the timing and how God’s story weaves together in terms of timing!

Some other ways to find deeper truth and new revelations:

  • Read a commentary alongside the Bible
  • Watch/listen to Christian courses on specific subjects (I have personally found a lot of deep content and new truths by listening to Messenger International’s video courses!)
  • Read companion texts by the contemporaries of Scripture to learn more about the culture and life at that time.
  • Specifically research the manners and customs of the Bible times (a great resource for this is “Bible Manners and Customs” by Rev. G.M. Mackie, available at TruthOrTradition.com/books).
  • Pick a specific word, phrase, or topic and do a “deep dive” on it, looking deeply into its different uses and appearances in Scripture.

These are just a few ways to mine the deeper truths and learn more about the message of the Bible!

Take Action!

Take time this week to ask God to show you deeper truths about Him, His Son, and his wonderful purposes in Scripture—and to dive into researching and gleaning more from His Word!

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