Every morning I have a date with my bathroom scale. Some days it makes me smile. Other days, I’m sad. So I need comfort food. Like donuts.
But years ago, our son had an unusually uplifting scale. He was working in youth ministry on a reservation and living in a trailer. He urged Karen and me to weigh on his scale in the morning. Karen was thrilled – she’d lost 15 pounds in a day! And so had I! Of course, we got wildly different results every time we weighed.
Oh, how I wanted to believe that scale. But no matter how welcome the news is on a wacko scale, it won’t fool my heart; it sure won’t fool my hips. Or my doctor. You know, he’s got one of those “whole truth, however ugly” scales. And there, in numbers that will drive you to lunches of celery and water, is the truth. The inconvenient, but uncompromising, truth. And then there’s the Bible. The scale that doesn’t lie.
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Lying Scales and Twisted Scriptures.”
“All Scripture is inspired by God,” the Bible says. In the original language, it’s “God-breathed” and it says “is useful for teaching what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives” (2 Timothy 3:16). Here’s the problem. Many times God’s Book doesn’t tell us what we want to be true. It tells us what is true. Like it or not. Often, not.
I call it inconvenient truth. Now, where the “lying scales” often tell us what we’d like to be true. And Scripture tells us truth that means we need to (guess what?) change. It may be the inconvenient truth about marriage or divorce. About what it means to be a husband or a wife, a parent. About sex or forgiving or our money. About loving our enemy or blessing those who curse us. About Jesus being the only way to God. Our responsibility to the poor. Maybe our prejudice, or maybe about what God says about an unwanted pregnancy. About reconciling or loving our enemies or being unashamed of our Jesus. Or even about the very origins of us and of our world.
Somewhere in a list like that is going to be some divine truth that makes you squirm, and that may mean changing. That may mean paying a price. The temptation is to try to do an end run around what God has said. And all across the Christian landscape, people are twisting and turning, rationalizing and redefining to create a loophole that just isn’t there. “Times have changed.” “Well, if you understood the culture when that was written…” “God is love – He would never be like that.”
The idea is this: if you’re out of bounds, just move the boundaries. But God’s not moving. No, listen to our word for today from the Word of God in Psalm 119:89. “Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” Cultures change. Polls change. God’s Word does not. It’s just always the truth, whether millions believe it or no one believes it.
Telling someone the truth – especially if it’s unwelcome truth – is not unloving. Oh, it can be delivered unlovingly, as all too often it is these days. But parents know that loving your child sometimes means giving them the truth they don’t want to hear. But they need to hear. About playing in the street or bad friends or Internet relationships or texting while driving, sexual predators charmingly disguised. We love them enough to tell them the truth.
That’s how much God loves us. He sees the big picture, where certain choices will end up. His boundaries aren’t to deprive us, they’re to protect us. That’s why compromising His life instructions is patently unloving.
In a Roman prison, awaiting execution, in Paul’s final written words he gives us warning, and it’s about lying scales. “A time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.”
That’s convenient truth. Funny thing about the real truth, though. It will always be true. And one day, I’ll face the consequences for not believing it. So, as everything is changing and our culture, our friends, our mentors, and even some spiritual brothers and sisters find a scale that means we don’t have to change, remember the real truth is “all Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:23-24).
The stormy crosswinds of conflicting ideas and moralities, they’re going to intensify. Without an anchor, we’ll be blown out to sea. And there is one, the unchanging, forever true Word of Almighty God.