Following a romantic break up, you might listen to what the young woman says to her friends … and what the young man says. You would be forgiven for wondering if they were talking about the same incident! When listening to varying political commentators in this presidential election season, you might be forgiven for wondering if they were talking about the same debate.
The fact is that truth is a very rare commodity indeed. Why is it so hard to know the truth?
First, Satan throws well-concealed lies at us. He is a liar, and the father of lies (John 8:44). In addition, we don’t check the rest of the story. “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17). Third, we don’t listen well. “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13). We lose control of our temper because we fail to listen well. “Know this, my beloved brothers: Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19).
Please understand this: The listener bears a serious responsibility to get it right. You do not have the right to go off to dozens of people with what you thought someone said, or think that they think. We arrogantly assume we already know the truth, and therefore stop investigating.
Jesus struggled with people who had this attitude: “For judgment I came into the world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind” (John 9:39). Later he added: “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains” (John 9:41).
When we hear truth, however, it is usually from the lips of God. God is a God who communicates. “Sanctify them in the truth,” Jesus declared, “your word is truth” (John 17:17). Elsewhere he expresses the supreme value of God’s truth: “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). John spoke of the force of Scripture’s having been written: “I write these things to you who believe in the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).
We have some responsibility here. Be thoughtful about Satan’s lies. See through the smokescreen. Check the other side of the story. If you repeat something as if it is true, investigate first, ensure that it is, indeed, true! Develop listening skills. Do not assume you know it all already.
“He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:11).