From what we gather, the not so truthful tale told by American Olympic swimmer, Ryan Lochte and friends, has proved to be an embarrassment both to themselves, their country, as well as to their families. By way of loss of commercial endorsements, they stand to lose millions. Admittedly, even though they were unwise, I kind of feel sorry for them but, then, I suppose that’s just the consequences of stretching the truth. Problem is, most of us have experienced stretching the truth at one time or another (maybe not quite to this extent).
Challenges with truth strike at the very heart of life and culture in all arenas and on all fronts. After church one Sunday morning, a mother commented, “The choir was awful this morning.” The father commented, “The sermon was too long.” Their 7-year-old daughter chimed in, “But you’ve got to admit it was a pretty good show for a dollar.”
There is something about this joke that smacks of truth. Albeit, in a twisted sort of way. Here is another thought concerning truth, “Beware of the half-truth—you may have gotten the wrong half.”
The greatest truth that we can know is the truth concerning Christ. The Christ of Christianity causes us to face the music, even when we don’t like the tune. Pontius Pilate discovered this.
Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose, I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”… (John 18:37-38)
Sadly, Pilate would soon come to know that he was staring right into the face of truth and, due to his rejection of it, he would one day have to face the music. It is a certainty that when he did, he did not like the tune.
Here is a curious thing. Truth can come from the most unsuspecting places.
There is a book that was published in 1937. It was authored by the famous writer of children’s books, Theodore Suess Geisel. better known as Dr. Seuss (1904-1991). Around the time that my two eldest children were 3 and 5, this was a very popular book in my home. The Title of the book is “And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street.” This is the Book about a little boy named Marco. The book begins like so:
When I leave home to walk to school, Dad always says to me, “Marco, keep your eyelids up and see what you can see.” But when I tell him where I’ve been and what I think I’ve seen, he looks at me and sternly says, “Your eyesight’s much too keen.”
Dad says this because Marco has a habit of using his “gift of exaggeration.” He loved to exaggerate the truth. As a result, Marco’s Dad admonishes, “Stop telling such outlandish tales. Stop turning minnows into whales.”
As the story reads, while on his way home from school, Marco sees only a plain wagon, being drawn by a horse. But this is simply not exciting enough. In contemplation, Marco asks himself, “Now what can I say when I get home today?” So Marco begins to stretch the truth, to make things a little more exciting.
And so: The horse becomes a Zebra and the wagon becomes a chariot.
- Then the Zebra becomes a reindeer and the wagon becomes a sleigh.
- Then the Reindeer becomes an Elephant and the wagon becomes a larger wagon, with a big brass band playing as they ride.
- Then the Elephant is joined by two giraffes.
- By the time he is done, the whole scene becomes a parade with a magician doing tricks, followed by a man with a ten-foot beard and an airplane dropping confetti.
- The entire parade is marching behind a police escort as they procession past the mayor and city council who are sitting in a grand stand.
- Oh yes, and Marco thought it appropriate to add that a little old man riding in a trailer brings up the rear of the parade.
Marco seems to have a little difficulty when it comes to telling the truth. Everybody wants to hear the truth. Don’t they? Or do they? It really depends upon what that truth is, doesn’t it?
Truth has been defined as: fact, reality, certainty, accuracy; genuineness, precision or exactness. The value of Truth can be learned in something as simple as a child’s story.
The Story of, “And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street” ends like this:
- “I swung round the corner and dashed through the gate, I ran up the steps and I felt simply great
- For I had a story that no one could beat, And to think that I saw it on mulberry street.
- But Dad said quite calmly “Just draw up your stool, And tell me the sights on the way home from school.”
- There was so much to tell, I just couldn’t begin. Dad looked at me sharply and pulled at his chin.
- He frowned at me sternly from there in his seat, “Was there nothing to look at…no people to greet? Did nothing excite you or make your heart beat?”
- “Nothing,” I said, growing red as a beet, but a plain horse and wagon on Mulberry Street.”
Marco may have come to realize that, truth is a valuable thing.
Truth is marked by honesty, uprightness and integrity. Any integrity that Marco may had lost in the past was suddenly made pale by his decision to tell the truth now.
What is truth? Well, for one thing, Truth is persistent. This was Dr. Suess’ first book. It was rejected twenty-seven times before it was published by Vanguard Press. Talk about persistence.
What is truth? For another thing, Truth will not be deterred by lies, vain philosophy, and endless question marks. We are reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul: “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)
What is truth? I love the words of D. L. Moody in response to this question. Quips Moody: “The best way to show that a stick is crooked is not to argue about it or to spend time denouncing it, but to lay a straight stick alongside it.”
By way of application, the straight stick is called Jesus. He is the standard by which critical truth must be judged. Lay the straight stick called Jesus beside the philosophy of man, and you will find that the philosophy of man is a very crooked stick, indeed. Perhaps this is somewhat what the psalmist had in mind when he proclaimed: “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” (Psalm 119:160)
I believe it is safe to say that it is God’s desire for all people to find the truth. Maybe you’ll find it in a church. Maybe you’ll find it in a conversation over lunch. Maybe you’ll find it on Mulberry Street. Wherever you find it, know that the most important truth that you can ever find is coming to know Christ.
Just some honest thoughts from the Heart and Mind of Victor.