I’ll be honest with you: I’m a people-pleaser. I find it very difficult to speak up if I know that it might make others unhappy with me. But I’m also a teacher and coach, responsible to communicate truth to my students. That’s probably why I find this quote so challenging:
If I profess with loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is merely flight and disgrace if he flinches at THAT point.
– Martin Luther (1483 – 1546)
This makes me ask myself: Do I ever shy away from speaking or teaching the truth because I want to avoid interpersonal conflict? Do I ever keep silent because I place the opinions and feelings of others above God’s? Sadly, I must admit that at times I do. But I also know God’s antidote for my fear, and it’s found in His word:
Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.
– Proverbs 29:25 (NIV)
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can mortal man do to me?
– Psalm 56:4 (NIV)
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
– Matthew 10:28 (NIV)
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
-Proverbs 9:10 (NIV)
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe that I may understand: for this also I believe, that unless I believe, I will not understand.
– Anselm of Canterbury (1033 – 1109)
Anselm was a medieval archbishop of Canterbury, and a brilliant scholar, philosopher and theologian. Among other things, he is famous for devising a logical proof for the existence of God called “the ontological argument.” Yet this highly intelligent man realized that spiritual truth cannot be grasped by reason alone. Only the Holy Spirit can open our eyes to see and enable our hearts to understand the things of God. Anselm here reminds me to yield my intellect to God, for only then will I be able to use it to its fullest capacity, as He intended it to be used.
We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
– 1 Corinthians 2:12-16 (NIV)
Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.
When I first read this quote, it gripped me immediately. Our relativistic postmodern culture scorns the notion of truth, and condemns anyone who holds absolute values of right and wrong as intolerant. Only someone with a deep, God-given hunger for truth is willing to face that kind of rejection. Surprisingly, the words of wisdom quoted above were written in the 17th century by Blaise Pascal (1623 – 1662), a French mathematician, physicist and philosopher.
2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 (NIV) says this about those who will be deceived by Satan in the last days before Christ returns: “…They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” If I love wickedness I will be deceived and face the judgment of God; but if I love the truth I will be saved. God’s word is truth (John 17:17), and Jesus is the truth (John 14:6); may we all grow to love them more!