Read Zechariah 8:16
16 But this is what you must do: Tell the truth to each other. Render verdicts in your courts that are just and that lead to peace. (NLT)
This is one of many biblical passages which remind us that telling the truth is vital. If we lie in legal proceedings, we risk injustice. If we lie in our personal relationships, we damage community. If we lie in sharing our faith, we lead people astray. So truth-telling matters.
But it is not that simple. Can we legitimately withhold truth for a time? Can we decide to delay telling the truth? And how much of the truth do we tell? To whom do we tell it? Who has a right to hear my truth? And have I actually got the truth in the first place?
We need a heart focussed on truth-telling mixed with wise discernment as to when and where and how to speak the truth. Or even to decide whether to speak the truth or not. Do we really need to tell a person that their dress sense is poor even though it might be the truth? Or to tell someone who has given us a gift that we don’t like it while that is the truth?
Telling the truth is not just communicating factual information. It involves the state of our heart, not just the form of our words. The philosopher Aristotle said it was all about speaking the right truth to the right person at the right time in the right way. Little wonder we need help!