By: Jenni Walker
“The Lord is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” Psalm 145:17-18
“For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It penetrates even between the soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
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How many of you have tried to follow verbal driving directions of family members or friends? As they rode shotgun in the seat next to you, you may have experienced something like this:
“I turn left here, right?”
“Wait, go right?”
Or how about this scenario?
“When you pass the grocery store with the broken lamp post in front of it, turn left at the second gas station. Follow that road until you get to a U-turn only sign, then turn right at the third red house on the left.”
If confusion can occur this quickly even in somewhat simple, clearly defined areas of life such as turning the car left or right, or where to turn the car left or right, how much more so in areas of our lives of even greater complexity? Consider the following questions asked by many people, Christians and non-Christians alike, in today’s current culture:
“Should I date him?”
“A lot of church-goers I know lived together before they got married. Is that really okay?”
“What church should I attend?”
“How can I really know if something is right or wrong?”
“My childhood friend has been making some compromising life choices. Should I continue to spend time with her?”
“How do I love someone who intentionally wronged me?”
“Is Christianity the only true religion? How can I know for sure?”
“What is my purpose here on this earth?”
And this list of questions barely skims the surface of the multitude of serious questions we are faced with at any point and time in our lives. (Not to mention ones involving topics such as politics, the environment, finances, and many more!) Can we truly know if something is right or wrong? Can something be right for me but wrong for someone else? Or can something be an okay choice but not the best choice?
Clearly, we as humans can easily get off-course in determining what is true and right. Just look at the comment section of just about any online news article or blog: you will find a multitude of vastly different perspectives and ever-changing frameworks for the opinions and beliefs expressed in them! Arguments, biting criticism, and defensive responses run rampant in such contexts. Why are the people who are contributing comments seemingly not able to come to a general consensus and one point of view? While there are some rather complex answers to this question, the simple answer is that they often each adhere to a different framework of TRUTH. This quickly leads to different belief systems and sharp contrasts in their personal values.
We live today in what is called a “morally relative” society, where people’s belief systems are relative to what they as individuals feel is right and wrong. If someone believes what he or she is doing is right, who are we to say otherwise? Why should one individual have the right to judge another individual? Why should someone not do something if that “something” makes him or her happy? Is there really even such a thing as truth? As you can imagine, this quickly becomes a slippery slope.
The gist of the answers is not popular in our present culture, but it is simple: We do not get to decide what is true and what is not. It is not like a buffet where we pick and choose what we like and disregard what does not seem initially appealing to us. You have likely heard someone say something like, “That might be true for you, but it is not true for me.” That might be okay to say when it comes to things like expressing our favorite restaurant, preferred vacation spot, or even how many kids you want to have. But that kind of approach cannot be applied to many other areas of life.
When it comes to knowing if something is true or not, there must be a standard of truth that applies to everyone. By definition, truth is “that which has fidelity to the original.” And that “original” is God Himself, and the standard of truth comes from Him. The primary way He reveals Himself and His truth to us is through His Word. The Bible says in Hebrews 4:12, “For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It penetrates even between the soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” The following verse then proceeds to explain who the standards set for in God’s Word apply to by describing that “there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (verse 13).
Just like the people in the comment section of so many Internet articles, there is no way to arrive at the truth without a common system of measurement. Certain things may “sound good,” but how do we know if they really are good? And should I be looking for things that I feel are just good for me, or is there something bigger than me that I am a part of? As Hebrews 4:13 pointed out so simply yet powerfully for us, God’s standards apply to all of us – none of us are hidden from His sight. Through personal relationship with Jesus Christ, application of God’s Word to our lives and the body of Christ, and the help of the Holy Spirit, we can find answers that will bring honor to God and the light of His truth to our beliefs, our hearts, and our actions.
If you have struggled with some tough questions but are unsure about the answers, begin today by reading Psalm 119 and John 14. Pray for the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of truth” (John 14:17a), to illuminate your understanding as you read God’s Word. Talk and pray with a trusted and mature Christian, mentor, or pastor. Ask God to reveal Himself to you through His Word, to remove any doubt from your heart, and to draw you closer to Him (James 4:8). As Proverbs 3:5-6 exhorts, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” As you navigate the many questions, decisions, and belief systems that this life presents, listen to His voice of truth. Settle once and for all in your heart, as the old song says, “to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.” No matter where you are, it is the best place to be! “The Lord is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth” (Psalm 145:17-18).
TIME TO REFLECT
1. Take some time to reflect honestly with the Lord about today’s devotion topic. What is the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart?
2. Revisit today’s Scripture passages. What do these verses teach us? How do they change things? (i.e. The way that we live? What we live for? Our experience of God?)
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(This devotion contains excerpts from The Wholehearted Woman: Who She is and Why She Matters by Beth Doohan and Jenni Walker.)