Op-Ed: We Can't Lose This Virtue - The Fabric of Our Society Depends on It
I’m sure you have lived long enough, as I have, to experience the fact that time and truth run hand in hand. Truth wins out in the end.
Accordingly, the importance of truth in the Capitol community cannot be understated. In my Bible study “The Personal and Cultural Benefits of Truthfulness,” I quote verses from Proverbs that show the various benefits of being a man or a woman of truth. Understanding the benefits of being truthful versus the detriments of lying or bearing false witness proves motivational to say the least.
The Scriptures speak repeatedly of the importance of developing a truth habit. That is, working to become a man or woman who always thinks and responds truthfully in every situation — even when speaking the truth is not beneficial. Why? The maintenance and sustenance of truthfulness, exclaiming truth as a principle of life and a part of the moral fabric of our national culture, is far more important than any one individual.
Notice how the following proverb highlights the extreme importance of truth as a principle: “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart” (Proverbs 3:3).
Exodus 34:7a states that “hesed,” the Hebrew word for kindness, is a fundamental characteristic of God, “who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin.” Using the same Hebrew word as in Proverbs 3:3, this Exodus passage underscores the fact that God is literally abounding in kindness, or, as translated in other English Bibles, steadfast love.
To the point of this week’s study, Proverbs 3:3 states that we are to be characterized by truth as well — and it is to be associated with kindness.
The Hebrew word for truth is “emet.” In John 14:6, Jesus states that truth is also an inherent characteristic of God himself: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” God expects the same qualities that characterize him to be manifest in us; such is commensurate with being created in his image and becoming Christ-like. Furthermore, the metaphoric language and visceral picture of Proverbs 3:3, in speaking about the heart of an individual, depict the need for the habitual, simultaneous exhibition of both kindness and truth.
A Bible study on truth necessitates the preceding introduction — the importance and necessity of love and kindness as coequals. To have truth without love is to be a cacophonous noise, a harsh discordant sound, according to 1 Corinthians 13:1: “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” To have truth without love is to defy the broader principle of Proverbs 25:11: “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken at the proper time.”
Mature in Christ is the believer who possesses the virtues of kindness and truth. Poor is the witness of the believer who states biblical truth without incumbent sensitivities. God is abounding in kindness as well as truthfulness.
Truthfulness is part of God’s very nature. One among many illustrations of this and perhaps most applicable to the primary audience of these studies is this: Jesus will manifest a perfectly truthful governance when he returns to rule the world. It follows that to be Christ-like today as a public servant is to be uncompromisingly truthful. And even though we presently live in a fallen world, all leaders should be motivated by the fear of God and the benefits listed in this study to discipline themselves to be rigidly truthful in their thinking, speech and behavior.
The following proverb is a fitting summary of the introduction of this study: “Two things I asked of You, do not refuse me before I die: Keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion” (Proverbs 30:7-8).
Herein Solomon prays that God would protect him from himself, that he would not be void of the truth. All of us can easily be deceived. We often think we’re smarter than we are; we can be unaware of the craft and trickery of others.
May the virtue of truth remain a vital aspect of each of us personally and in the fabric of American culture! May we all learn to heed the instruction of Proverbs 3:3: Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.
Read “The Personal and Cultural Benefits of Truthfulness,” as taught in our House, Senate and former White House Cabinet member Bible studies.
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