"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
Philippians 4:8 KJV
I want to write something that is close to me through personal experience, as well as observation of personal friends, as well as personal failure on my part in not living up to what I am about to write about. I have had to repent for this failure more than once. It is easy to fall short in this area as evidenced by the frequency that it happens. If we will be honest with ourselves we would all have to admit that we have been guilty of this at some point.
What I am about to write addresses the issue of truth: How do we determine it? How do we perceive it? More importantly, how do we speak it and why? This is the heart of the issue. I intend to suggest that merely settling for the content of our speech being true without the intent of our speech being truth is not sufficient.
This is many times the justification for malicious gossip and character assassination; but what I said is true. True alone is not sufficient; truth is the objective. The question is, how do you make what is true, truth. Is there a difference?
Our text says: "whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just" This verse indicates at least subtle distinctions between what is true and honest, and what is true and just.
TRUE VS. HONEST
Firstly, the distinction between what is true and honest. Just because something it true does not mean it is honest. The wilderness temptation of Matthew 4 is the perfect illustration. When Satan quotes scripture he is saying what is true, but no one can say that he was honest. While the Devil can speak things that are true, there is "no truth in him (John 8:44)."
The Devil was manipulating what was true for his dishonest agenda. What he said was true, but it was not honest. What is true, but not honest is not truth.
TRUE VS. JUST
The ways of the Lord God are "just and true (Revelation 15:3 ESV);" not only true, but also just. It is true that Jesus was crucified, but it was not just. Obviously what is true and what is just is not the same.
The only way for what is true to be truth, is when what is true is also honest and just. Let this serve as a model to us in what we say about others. I know that what you said may have been true, but was it honest and just. What was your motive for saying it? Did the true thing that you said have honest intent? Was the desired end result of the true thing that you said just? If not, then don't call it the truth.
Only when what is true is spoken honestly with the desire for a just outcome is what is said "truth." Let's endeavor to not only say what is true, but tell the truth!