Rule #13: Speak the Truth

Truth is a silly word. It's nearly impossible to achieve and even if it is found it's even more impossible to understand. To be a priest in some denomination you have to claim that the definition of perfection is striving for perfection. I'm not really sure I agree but that is how I think of truth. Until the day all of humanity is omniscient we will not be able to speak the whole truth. So when I say speak the truth I don't mean be perfect. I mean speak the truth to the best of your ability. I didn't include that line in the rule because frankly it's kind of a sissy attitude. "Just do your best". Which means, It doesn't matter if you win, or if you even try as long as it look like your trying. As long as you put on a good show. Put on a good show and call it truth you are the biggest liar their is. Because you're lying to yourself.

I remember in grade school, 1st through 5th grade that is, It was never enough to tell someone you would do something. "I'm going to give you my candy bar if you let me have the swing." No child in his right mind would believe that. But then you sweeten the deal. "I'm promise you, on my mothers grave." "I'll pinky swear to you." You get older and it turns out this school-yard immaturity actually hasn't changed. Oh the names are different and the consequences more present but it's the same charade all over again. "I'll give you my car if I can't pay my loan." No one in their right mind would accept this deal. So you sweeten the deal. "I'll sign a contract saying the car is yours if I don't pay my loan." I'm not saying we shouldn't have contracts, remember Rule #6: Don't believe everything you hear? I'm just saying it's childish and immature that we can't just say what we are going to do and do it. Even in Jesus time this was an issue. Jews would swear to each other by heave, or by their hair, or by God's throne. Jesus said, Just let your "yes be yes, and your no be no" [Matt 5:37]. He even goes on to say swearing by anything you can't control is demonic and evil. 

So here is what it means to me to speak the truth

  1. Don't lie.
  2. Keep your commitments.
  3. Take responsibility for your actions.
  4. Check your facts before you share them.
  5. Don't answer a question until you are sure you understand it.

Don't lie. If someone asks a question that you don't want to answer, don't answer. But do not give them a false answer just to get them off your back especially if it involves someone else do not "...bear false witness against your neighbor." [Ex 20:16]. And don't make up answers to look smart. Both of these are lying. White lies are lies with an adjective in front of them. When I wife asks the inevitable question "Does this dress make me look fat?" I don't lie. I may not answer the question she asked but I will not lie. "Well baby you look great, but I don't like that dress on you." Or if you are unfortunate enough to have a wife that doesn't look great you can still answer a different question to divert the angry bull "I don't like that dress." Abraham Lincoln was known for performing just such technicalities and still has his honest reputation. You can be honest and tactful at the same time. Sometimes it just requires some work. In the Wheel of Time book series their is a wizard cast that is known to take a magical oath that will not allow them to lie. But it is said the "Truth [they] speak is not necessarily the truth you wanted." Worst case scenario offend, It is better to be honest and cause offense then to have your words doubted. The Gospel of Jesus is the truth and it has and will offend many [Rom 9:33]. Jesus is the only way to heaven. That is the truth. I don't care if that offends.

It's seems common sense that speaking the truth means not lying but simply not telling a lie isn't good enough to follow this rule. You also need to be reliable, you have to keep your commitments. If you say you're going to do something, do it. If you do not you are a liar and a cheat and you do not speak the truth. Ouch. This is the real truth. Fulfilling your commitments. I can't remember the number of commitments I've broken in my life. So many. It almost brings me to tears at times. When I realized the ties between truth and commitments my first response was to stop making commitments. It was honestly the best thing I could have done. Every time someone asked me to do something, if I could not do it right then and there I would refuse or give a strong maybe. It pissed people off. They wanted the commitment. But for a season of my life I broke very few commitments. Then something funny happened. I started committing again but I was picky about it. The whole time I spent not committing I was carefully watching, how did I feel about the offer, how did I respond, how did I ultimately act. I set aside time to rest and committed to that first. I then was able to commit to one thing at a time, not regular commitments one offs like parties or special events at church. But only the ones that didn't conflict with my committed times of rest, usually Friday night through Saturday. Then I found one long term commitment that I didn't just want to do to help but that I also had a passion for. It was miraculous the change in my attitude. And I'd like to think people can rely on me now. I may be a bit of a commitment snob, but when I do commit, it happens. I'm not there yet perhaps but I'm getting there. Turns out this exercise of being a commitment snob is actually a biblical idea. "It is a snare for a man to devote rashley..." [Prov 20:25].

I'd love to cover all five items but time has run out and this post is quite big enough. I'll have to hit the last 3 tomorrow. Starting with this post and thought of as I wrote this post I'm going to have to make a time limit to how long I can write. It will help me be more regular in writing and setting a scheduled time to write. It will also insure I don't push off my other commitments, like my job. I think it will be a good adjustment.