Painful Truths

by Zeke Flores

Sometimes, the truth hurts.

  • You’re losing your hair. (Ouch!)
  • You’re a little overweight. (Double ouch!)
  • You’re in sin. (OOOWWW!)

We’ve heard it said, “The truth hurts.” Who hasn’t been stung when the truth is critical to us personally or contradicts us in some way? The truth can tend to expose our deficiencies and pierce our souls. Sometimes, our reaction to constructive criticism is hurt feelings, which might morph into resistance to the critique, even though we know that if we changed, it would be better for us. But, stubborn people that we can be, we dig in and refuse. Somebody once said. "The truth will set you free, but first, it will make you mad." Yes, sometimes the truth hurts.

We can learn from some ancient priests and elders how they reacted to the truth when Jesus flatly brought them to a decision (Matthew 21:23-27). When they challenged Jesus’ authority, He simply asked them about John’s (the Baptist) baptism. Was it from God and thereby approved by Him, or was it simply a man-made ritual? They were between the proverbial rock and a hard place. They couldn’t say John’s baptism was from God because that would authenticate Jesus and His work since John endorsed Jesus. To agree that John’s baptism was from God would be to recognize the authority of Jesus. They couldn’t repudiate John because everyone else thought John was certainly a God-approved prophet. So they played dumb.

Do we do as these ancient religious leaders did? When we read or hear God’s word, and it flatly contradicts our beliefs, our inclinations, or our actions, do we just decide not to deal with it at all? Maybe we look for excuses (“I couldn’t help it!”), or even rationalizations (“Look at him over there! He does the same thing!”). But all the excuse-making and rationalizing doesn’t change the truth. As Winston Churchill once said, "The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is."

Jesus said we’ll be judged by truth, specifically the truth of His word (John 12:48). While the truth can hurt when it points out our flaws, ignoring it hurts worse. Yes, sometimes the truth hurts, but it always helps.

"He who rejects me and does not receive my word has one who judges him. The words I spoke will judge him on the last day" (John 12:48).

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