The Whole Truth
O LORD, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy mountain? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart...(Ps. 15:1-2).
Human beings have trouble telling the truth even when they say (and sometimes believe) they are telling the truth. Obvious, I know.
My point is that people have learned many devious ways to shade, twist, and otherwise avoid truth. "Half-truths" are a favorite device of Satan and his followers.
The father of lies told a half-truth in the beginning did he not? "For God knows that on the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5).
Eve's eyes were opened, alright. But her experience of "knowing good and evil" did not make her "like God"; quite the opposite, she was unmade, separated from God, and spiritual as well as physical death came into the world.
Half-truth tellers deliberately withhold some (but not all) facts to create the impression of truth to accomplish their hidden agendas.
Take Abram as an example. When he sojourned in Egypt, he convinced his wife, Sarai, to join him in telling the Egyptians that she was his sister (they were half-siblings) so that he would not be put to death when others desired to take her (Gen. 12:10-20).
Pharaoh takes Sarai to be his own wife, lavishes Abram with gifts, and then God brings plagues upon the king and his household for taking another man's wife.
Pharaoh's response? "Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for myself as a wife?" (Gen. 12:18-19)
Sure Abram could've raised his index finger and said, "Well, technically..." or "I NEVER said she wasn't my wife, so it's kind of YOUR fault for not asking"––ludicrous, empty defenses. Clearly Abram intended for Pharaoh to believe Sarai was his sister and nothing else. Plagues ensue. Not to mention the danger to Sarai, and the self-inflicted dishonor Abram wrought for letting another man take his wife.
Half-truths thrive on technicalities and the selective withholding of facts, but make no mistake, my friends, half-truths are an enemy of honesty––hated by God, and wielded by Satan.
Take a look at Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5). They brought the proceeds from the sale of their land to relieve Christians in need. They were more than happy to let their brethren believe they had given the full amount when in fact "kept some back for themselves" (v. 3). This was their sin: not that they didn't give the full amount, but led others to believe they did (Acts 5:4, 8).
Peter says they LIED to God (v. 5); for their deception they die by God's hand (vv. 9-11).
Slivers of truth can be persuasive (Col. 2:4), but they are still empty, deceptive, and provoke the wrath of God (Eph. 5:6).
It seems like a contradiction, I know, but it is possible to use portions of truth to deceive (see Matt. 4:1-11). Truth isn’t really truth when we embellish, exaggerate, or flat out omit information, pretending ignorance.
There may be times when silence is appropriate (Jn.19:9), if the silence itself is not deceptive. When Truth is spoken, it should be forthright, plainly stated, the product of an honest heart––"Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart" (Ps. 51:6).
We need ask ourselves:
“Did I just tell the whole truth, or only part of it?”
“Am I hiding a portion of the truth to make myself look good or to escape something?”
"Did I just use the truth in a deceitful way, and did I make sure that my words had no hidden agenda or ulterior motive?”
We need to honestly examine what we say for sure, but also how and why we say it! We can easily deceive ourselves like the "good ol' boy" who said, "I'd tell the truth five or six different ways before I'd tell a lie."
Well, at least he was...honest?