Responses to Truth

I have observed in my life and ministry that there are basically four responses to the declaration of truth (in the life of a believer).

Response #1 is affirmation.  This happens when the truth is declared (a Biblically-based sermon, a Christian song, a gospel-centered testimony, etc) regarding an area of my life in which I am walking in obedience.  When my heart is in tune with God on that subject, my spirit immediately begins to resonate like a stringed instrument resonates with "sympathetic vibrations" when a tuning fork is struck.  In such cases, the Scriptural proclamation causes my soul (and sometimes my mouth) to cry out "Amen!"  It serves as a confirmation of a previously-held and currently-practiced truth.

Response #2 is conviction.  This happens when truth is declared regarding an area of present disobedience in my life.  When I hear it, I immediately recognize it as truth and I immediately recognize the rebuking and correcting power of God's Word.  I don't argue with it.  I don't get upset with the messenger.  I just recognize that God is lovingly chastening me.  His loving discipline causes my soul to cry out, "Oh me."  Sometimes when people actually say, "amen" they really mean "oh me."  It's not that they have arrived at full obedience in that area of life but they are able to admit, "Amen.  That's right.  So be it."

Response #3 is hesitation.  This happens when truth is declared regarding an area of disobedience but I do not immediately recognize its truthfulness.  Desiring to continue in my present practice, I initially resist the work of God.  The general response of my heart in those moments is, "Either he is right and I am wrong...or I am right and he is wrong...and since I cannot be wrong...the messenger is."  Clearly the messenger is ill-informed on the subject.  Like a broken watch, he may occasionally be right.  But on this matter he is unquestionably in error.

In such situations I tend to seek out affirmation from other believers.  Let's face it.  We all do it.  We may send a text or an email.  We may pick up our cell phone and call a friend...usually someone that we already know will agree with us.  And we ask them, "What did you think about that sermon?"  Or we may say, "Were you listening to (insert favorite radio program) today?  Did you agree with what he said about (insert offensive statement)?"

I call this response hesitation because the resistance does not last long.  After wrestling with the aggravation, and perhaps the anger, we have what I call a "deer-stand moment."  I give such epiphanies that name because they happen to me very often in quiet moments where my heart is still and quiet.  In those moments, sometimes when I am "minding my own business," the Holy Spirit gently says, "You know he was right."

Part of me wants to say, "I hate it when that happens."  But the truth is, "I love it when that happens."  I wish it didn't have to happen as often as it does in my life, but when it does, I love it.  Or as the writer of Hebrews admonishes us, "Despise not the chastening of the Lord."

At its core, this initial response of hesitation is caused by pride and stubbornness.  Pride makes me think I could not possibly be wrong.  Stubbornness keeps me there...until the stubborn love of the Lord wins out.

Response #4 is rejection.  This is perhaps merely an extended form of #3 because in the end, the Lord will win.  Although in some cases, He may have to take a believer home to glory to accomplish their sanctification and obedience.  He is committed to that, you know.

This response occurs when the truth declared hits so close to home that we refuse to even consider the possibility that we may be in error.  With a stiff neck we reject the truth.  In my life, it happens sometimes when it involves a family member or close friend.  My child could not be wrong.  My wife could not be wrong.  My grandmother could not have taught me a lie.

But most often, it happens when it is directed toward me.  Sweet little me.  God-loving me.  Why if what the messenger said is true, that means I would be wrong!  And we all know that could not be.  Why, the messenger is no better than me!  His kids are no better than mine!  His life no holier than mine!  I am just as good as he is.

"...but they measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves among themselves, they are not wise."  (2 Corinthians 10:12b)

It would be presumptuous and prideful to think that I live in the world of affirmation.  No, when I hear truth declared, it has a greater tendency to bring conviction, because there are far more areas of life in which I have NOT arrived than those in which I have been brought to full submission.  But I pray when my response is hesitation that the resistance will not be long-lasting.  Because for a believer, rejection of truth is a tough place to live.