July 28, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Isaiah 5:20 (NIV)
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
In ancient Israel people lost touch with truth. They called evil good, and darkness light, and bitter sweet. The Lord judged them for their unwillingness to tell the truth. Of course we live in a world in which truth seems more and more elusive. But as people of God, we will be committed to telling – and living – the truth.
My dad died 36 years ago today after a valiant battle with cancer. So, every year on July 29, I find myself thinking about and missing my dad. I was just getting to know him in an adult-to-adult relationship when he was taken from my family and me. There is so much I wish I could ask my dad, so much about him I don’t know.
But I do know several things for sure. I know my dad loved the Lord. I know he loved my family and me. And I know he was a person of truth. When I think back on the 29 years in which I knew him, I have no memory of my dad ever being untruthful. (Well, except for a little white lie about Santa.) But I have plenty of memories of my dad’s insistence that I tell the truth. If I did something wrong, he would be annoyed, but fairly gracious. If I tried to cover up what I did with a lie, my dad would be furious. (Photo: my favorite photo of my dad and me, taken in 1958).
If my dad had lived in the time of Isaiah, he would not have been happy with Israel. At that time the people of Israel, especially her leaders and teachers, had forsaken the truth. They justified their own injustice in ways that turned truth on its head – calling evil, good; and dark, light; and bitter, sweet.
Sound familiar? The same happens so often today. Political leaders who invert truth and falsehood flourish. Pop culture bombards us with messages contradictory to God’s truth-telling us, for example, that putting ourselves first is laudable, that physical appearance means more than character, and that the purpose of life is our own individual happiness. Even our religious leaders can get into the act, twisting the truth to promote their own personal agendas. They can cover up grave injustices when they sense a threat to their institutional thriving.
Though we rightly bemoan our world’s disconnection from truth, we must acknowledge our own temptation to follow the ways of the world. We too can choose the comfortable lie over the uncomfortable truth. We too can pretend as if truthfulness really doesn’t matter.
Yet, the world’s confusion of truth and falsehood gives us an unprecedented opportunity to live distinctively as the people of God. If we who belong to Christ will be people of truth, then we will shine his light into our dark world. Being people of truth is a matter both of speech and action. It means knowing, saying, and living the truth in every sector of life, including our workplace. Such a life is centered in Christ, the one who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
Are you a person of truth?
Do you speak and live truthfully? Is your life full of truth?
When are you tempted to be less than truthful?
Which of the lies of our world snare your soul most easily?
The next time you are tempted to be less than truthful, choose the risky way of truth.
Gracious God, as we look at the world in which we live, we’re struck by how much it is like the world of Isaiah. All around us people are saying that good is evil, and dark is light, and sweet is bitter. We are also struck by how easy it is for us to become caught in this web of falsehood.
Forgive us, gracious Lord, for the times we fail to speak or to live the truth. Forgive us when we let the lies of this world blot out your timeless truth.
Help me to be a person of truth, not only in my words, but also in my mind, my heart, and my actions. Help me, especially in contexts where truthfulness is risky, where it seems so much easier simply to lie. Give me the wisdom to know when and how to speak the truth. May my whole life be anchored in truth because you are the truth. Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. An article on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Truthtelling in the Bible
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.