Nobody likes to be lied to; not even a habitual liar. People who are lied to feel betrayed. Truth is defined as fidelity to an established standard. So far so good, but this definition raises an important question: What is the established standard used to determine truth? If you begin with the wrong standard, you will never find the truth. This is precisely what has happened in today’s self-serving, secular society.
Truth is being supplanted by political spin, marketing hype, doubletalk, and selfish shading. Too many people think the truth is a flexible concept that can be bent, twisted, and molded to suit their purposes. Those who play fast and loose with the truth reject the concept of absolute truth. This is because the world has begun to apply the wrong standard in determining what is true or false as well as what is right or wrong. It is not uncommon these days to hear people say, “That may be your truth, but it’s not mine” or “You have your truth and I have mine.”
People who say these things believe they are the final arbiters of truth. Defining truth is viewed as their personal prerogative, and truth is viewed as something they can mold and shape to fit their personal agendas. Their standard for determining truth is a flexible notion based on whatever serves their purpose at any given time. Anything that validates their desires or supports their agenda is considered true.
Take this point of view to its logical conclusion and you can see the obvious problem with it. If you can have your truth and I can have mine, there can be as many truths in the world as there are people. In such a scenario, it is never long before your truth conflicts with mine. If you can have your truth and I can have mine, there is no truth.
This dilemma—which should be obvious to any thinking person—is why it is important for Christians to understand there can be only one established standard for determining the truth. That standard is God’s Word: Holy Scripture. God’s Word is the truth in all situations and on all occasions. Consequently, to walk in truth is to walk in accordance with God’s Word. It does not matter if the Word of God advances one’s personal agenda, accords with one’s desires, or supports one’s point of view. The Bible is the truth and anything that runs counter to it is false.
People who assume they can personally decide what is true or right are guilty of more than just arrogance; they are guilty of violating God’s First Commandment. They commit the sin of putting another god—themselves—before the true and living God of Scripture. They take on the role of God, assuming equality with him or, worse yet, superiority to him. Doing this is more than hubris; it’s blasphemy—an act of contempt for God.
In John 8:32, Jesus tells us we will know the truth and the truth will set us free. A lot of Christians take this verse to mean the truth will set us free from the trials, tribulations, and anti-Christian bias of the world. At the same time, a lot of unbelievers take this verse to mean the truth—as they see it—will set them free from the restrictive rules of Christianity. Both are wrong. When Jesus said the truth will set us free, he meant God’s Word will set us free from the destructive clutches of sin. He meant the truth as set forth in His Word would free us from the web of temptation spun by that most poisonous of spiders: Satan.
Daniel felt torn. As a marketing professional, his job was to put the best face on the pharmaceutical products his company produced, and he was good at it. He had been his company’s Marketing Professional of the Year three years in a row and was in the running for a fourth consecutive award. That’s why he had been assigned the task of rescuing a product that was dying in the marketplace. But Daniel wasn’t sure he wanted this assignment.
The company had invested a huge amount of time, money, and expertise in developing and testing a new drug to treat anxiety and help people sleep. Another member of Daniel’s team had been in charge of the introducing the product to the market. Everything went well at first. Sales outpaced even the most optimistic estimates. But then unexpected side effects began to crop up and people stopped buying the drug almost overnight. This is when Daniel was brought in to rescue the product.
His challenge was to develop a new marketing campaign that emphasized the product’s benefits while down playing the side effects. When Daniel expressed concerns about the truth of the new marketing campaign, his boss replied, “Daniel, what is true is whatever will make this drug sell. We’ve invested too much in developing this drug to let it die because of a few inconsequential side effects.” When Daniel countered that some of the side effects were hardly inconsequential, his boss said, “Your job is to make them appear inconsequential.”
Torn between the truth and rescuing his company’s bottom line, Daniel made an appointment with his pastor to discuss the issue. Pastor Edward listened as Daniel explained the problem. Then he said, “Daniel, walking in God’s truth can be a lonely endeavor at times. It is not uncommon for Christians to find themselves in these kinds of situations where people think the truth is whatever suits their purposes. If you are feeling isolated and alone because of your beliefs, don’t despair. Instead, take the long view.
“Think about the message in Proverbs 11:3 where we are assured the treacherous will be destroyed by their own perfidy. Let your faith guide you no matter how vocal and persistent the opposition to God’s truth might be. Your walk with the Lord is a marathon not a sprint and there will be challenges along the way. But Proverbs 10:2 provides all the assurance you need to faithfully run the good race in truth, honesty, and integrity. This verse assures us righteousness will deliver us and that the wickedness of the dishonest will not profit them.”
The next day at work, Daniel told his boss he could not in good conscience deliver the kind of marketing program he had been assigned. “What you are asking me to do is dishonest. In the long run it will hurt the company more than it will help us.” Daniel’s boss angrily dismissed him and reassigned the marketing campaign to another member of the team. Not only did Daniel not win his fourth consecutive Marketing Professional of the Year award, he was forced to take two weeks off from work without pay and given a written reprimand.
Daniel had to endure being the goat around the office for more than six months, but then things changed overnight. The side effects of the new drug that had been played down by the marketing campaign turned out to be even worse than thought. When people were hospitalized after taking the drug, the company was subjected to a huge class-action lawsuit and had to pay reparations to thousands of people.
An internal investigation revealed the truth that Daniel’s boss had purposefully ordered a marketing campaign that downplayed the drug’s side effects, and the only person who opposed the campaign was Daniel. The eventual outcome saw Daniel’s boss fired and Daniel promoted to take his place. From that point forward, the marketing team’s motto was “We will tell the truth.” As the new boss, Daniel wasn’t shy about explaining the source of truth.
If you have to deal with dishonesty in your family, at work, in school, or in any other setting—which is likely—remember what Pastor Edward told Daniel. Read Proverbs 11:3 and 10:2 to bolster your resolve. Then make clear to those who play fast and loose with the truth it has only one source: Holy Scripture. To use any other standard is to set yourself up for a fall.
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press and Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith, Salem Books, an imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2019: www.david-goetsch.com