Garry spoke this morning from Genesis 42:35-43:10 about the need to respond to truth correctly. Jacob, when confronted with the news that Simeon had been kept behind in Egypt and would only be released if Benjamin went there, refused to countenance that idea, effectively lamenting that he had been deprived of a second son (even though Simeon was still alive!) Reuben tried to persuade his father to let Benjamin go back and even put his two sons up as collateral for Benjamin, but Jacob refused point-blank. He was prepared to risk famine for all his family rather than take a risk.
Eventually, of course, Jacob came face-to-face with reality, as we all must at some point in our lives. The longer we avoid truth and reality, the bigger the crash can be when we face it. Truth can be unpleasant, painful and even devastating, but lies are worse. We cannot afford to ignore truth (or we will end up with eternal damnation; we have to accept God’s word as truth in order to be saved.)
If we build on anything but truth, we are building on a shaky foundation (Matt 7:26). Truth is reality. God is true. Jesus came ‘full of grace and truth’ (John 1:14); he was a man of integrity who taught the way of God in accordance with the truth. (Matt 22:16) He gives us the Spirit of truth (John 16:13) and we are told that God’s word is truth and that it has the power to sanctify us. (John 17:17) Ultimately, only the truth can set us free (John 8:32), because everything which is not true constrains and restricts us.
Truth is good for us, enabling us to grow (Eph 4:15).If we depart from the truth, we will end up departing from it (2 Tim 2:18).We must avoid distorting the truth (Acts 20:30-31) and refuse to suppress it. (Rom 1:18) Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize for literature, was exiled because of his criticism of Stalin in 1945. He was not released until 1974 and from this long period of imprisonment urged people to ‘live not by lies.’ Jordan Peterson, a Canadian psychologist whose book ‘12 Rules For Life’ includes the injunction to always tells the truth, says, ‘If you betray yourself, if you say untrue things, if you act out a lie, you weaken your character. If you have a weak character, then adversity will mow you down when it appears, as it will, inevitably. You will hide, but there will be no place left to hide. And then you will find yourself doing terrible things.’
In our country, there are many lies being propagated in our schools and in our society, and it will take courage to stand against these lies. God is willing to work with us as we face truth; He can redeem our mistakes and can restore in miraculous fashion, but He is demanding and insists that we face truth and repent of wrongdoing. Jacob tried to carry on regardless, but in the end, he had to let Benjamin go. Facing truth takes courage, but there is no peace without it. Once we have made the decision to live in and by truth, God will take us by the hand and walk with us. He will lead us into peace and joy, into abundant life. We avoid this at our peril. Short-term escapism does not work in the long-term.