After watching the evening news, I wonder what the prophet Jeremiah would say about the world in which we live? In his own day, he summarized the condition of mankind by saying the heart of man was full of deceit and wickedness. I think the news confirms the prophet’s prognosis.
Like Jeremiah, Saint Augustine voiced his concerns regarding the plight of mankind. Even though he was a theologian, and not a heart doctor, he was concerned with healthy hearts. He thought a vibrant heart would manifest itself when a person showed love for:
- the right thing
- in the right degree
- in the right way
- with the right kind of love
Augustine’s focus on the importance of love may have come from his study of the Apostle Paul, who said: “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2).”
If your life is void of any expression of love, you have a zilch to zero chance of doing “the right thing, in the right degree in the right way, with the right kind of love.”
The “right kind of love,” is a genuine love of obedience: “Everyone who really believes that Jesus is the Christ proves himself one of God’s family. The man who loves the Father cannot help loving the Father’s own Son. The test of the genuineness of our love for God’s family lies in this question—do we love God himself and do we obey his commands? For loving God means obeying his commands, and these commands of his are not burdensome, for God’s “heredity” within us will always conquer the world outside us. In fact, this faith of ours is the only way in which the world has been conquered. For who could ever be said to conquer the world, in the true sense, except the man who really believes that Jesus is God’s Son (I John 5:1-5)?”
Have you gone from zilch to zero, or are you a conquering hero? The difference is the capacity to love.
As I watched the evening news last night and the skilled manner in which the politicians spun the truth, I thought of the words of Jesus and Solomon:
- John 8:32: You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
- Proverbs 12:17: Truthful witness by a good person clears the air, but liars lay down a smoke screen of deceit. ~ The Message
If the truth will make you free, can you make the assumption that a life of habitual deceitfulness leads to bondage? To be free, you need to have the courage to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Some people have lived a life characterized by manipulation and deceit to the point that they wouldn’t recognize truth if it appeared to them as their firstborn child. To help you recognize it and understand it, take note of a quote or two:
- G.K. Chesterton: “Right is right even if nobody does it. Wrong is wrong even if everybody is wrong about it.”
- George Orwell: “In a time of universal deceit — telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
- Albert Einstein: “Anyone who doesn’t take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either.”
- Augustine: “The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.”
I’m not sure if Billy Graham had Martin Luther King, Jr in mind when he made the statement above, or if King was thinking of Graham; but the two of them made complimentary statements:
- Billy Graham: “Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr: “Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency ask the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But, conscience ask the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”
I’ll close with Psalm 85:10 from The Message: “Love and Truth meet in the street, Right Living and Whole Living embrace and kiss! Truth sprouts green from the ground, Right Living pours down from the skies! Oh yes! God gives Goodness and Beauty; our land responds with Bounty and Blessing. Right Living strides out before him, and clears a path for his passage.”