Being truthful means swimming against the tide and refusing to compromise

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From “Growing in the character of a disciple”: Chapter 10 – How we can develop ‘the love of the truth’ and the character quality , and habit, of truthfulness?

If you seriously set out to become totally honest from now on then it will frequently mean swimming against the tide. You will stand out from the crowd and your honesty will not be liked or appreciated by everybody. That is putting it mildly. Many will actually hate and despise what you’re seeking to do. It will lead you into all sorts of conflict, trouble and costly choices.

Telling the truth all the time is not easy, and it never will be easy, until after Jesus returns. Until then, you will usually be the odd one out, not only at work, or school, or among your neighbours. You will even be the odd one out among many Christians, and even among some church leaders. That is how rare real truthfulness is. It is rare even within the church, where deception, and especially self-deception, are now commonplace.

Peer pressure is real and very powerful, both outside, in the world, and also inside the church. There is a strong pressure on all of us to fit in and not to rock the boat by objecting to things that those around us have decided are good. However, if you follow your conscience, or if you stand up for what the Bible says, then you will find that you regularly end up as the odd one out. It is inevitable, because the majority of people, even within churches (in the West) are not following either the Bible, or their consciences, but the standards of the world. (See Book seven)

You will find yourself in positions where you believe a certain thing is wrong. But all of the people around you, including leaders in the church, may agree unanimously that it’s right, or at least that is ‘acceptable’ or ‘can be justified’. However, you must always follow your conscience rather than following the crowd, even if it means that you stand alone:

“Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd,

Exodus 23:2 (NIV)

Such situations are very difficult and painful to deal with and they can also be costly to you. But you still need to brace yourself and insist on listening to your conscience and on following God’s Word, even if that puts you out on a limb as the only person who thinks as you do. That is very hard to handle, but the alternative is far worse. That is to fit in with current orthodoxy and to go along with whatever those around you are saying or doing.

The problem with just following the crowd and fitting in with the world’s standards is that you will then end up disobeying, or even opposing, God, simply to win the approval and acceptance of those around you. That is a tragically foolish bargain. Therefore, never be willing to call evil things good or good things evil. Always insist on staying true to what the Bible says. Also always obey what your conscience says about how to apply the Bible in practice:

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!

Isaiah 5: 20 (RSV)
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