As we approach the New Year, many individuals take the opportunity to look back over their life and make decisions about what they could be doing better. While there is nothing inherently mystical nor magical about the changing over from one year to another, the practice of such resolutions is one that is worth keeping, for they are a reminder that we should always be trying to do better.
One resolution that each of us should be encouraged to make, whether at a New Year, or no, is that word of encouragement written about three thousand years ago, by the wise king Solomon, and included in that collection of wise sayings called the Book of Proverbs: “Buy the truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction and understanding.” (Proverbs 23:23; ESV)
Truth is a concept that many people in our day and age have a problem with. Relativism, post-modernism, and related philosophical movements have so equivocated on the concept of truth that there are a goodly number of people who will un-ironically, and seemingly oblivious to the inherent contradiction, declare that there is no truth.
God tells us there is such a thing as truth. Moreover, God has made it clear that men can possess the truth if they are willing to seek after it.
Our Lord Jesus believed in the truth. He prayed for God to sanctify His followers through the truth, boldly asserting, “Your Word is Truth!” (John 17:17) He also believed that men could be in actual possession of the truth. He tells us, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31b-32; NKJV)
The counsel, “buy the truth,” reminds us of the ability to gain the truth. The truth, as given to us by God, is not unobtainable, and the quest to obtain it is not quixotic. Each of us should be willing to pay the appropriate price for knowing the truth, whether it is an investment of time, or money, or simply attention. This doesn’t mean you can run down to the store and pick up a carton of truth, but time spent studying, money paid to teachers, tutors and the like, and an attentive attitude when knowledgeable people are talking are all worthy investments. Whether it is training for a job, learning life skills, or religious instruction in matters of divine truths, the better we allow ourselves to be educated, the better it is for us.
Obviously, we don’t start off instinctually knowing the truth. Neither is everything everyone claims truth; some people are more than happy to lie to us. A good part of our quest is in determining what is true and what is not. Happily, we have one advantage, a starting point from which to gauge all other things: God cannot lie. As Jesus said, His word is always truth.
But what of the second part of the admonition: “do not sell it?” What does that mean?
Sadly, there are some individuals, who, knowing the truth, are willing to compromise that truth, ignore the truth, or even contradict the truth, if it seems convenient for them to do so. In matters of religious doctrines, especially, the warning of the Bible, “do not sell it,” seems particularly powerful.
Some think that it is impossible to know the whole of the truth, and so any knowledge obtained can be readily jettisoned for shinier, newer ideas. This is sometimes called “progressive thinking,” when in fact, too often it simply means jettisoning what is known to work in favor of whatever appeals at the moment. But if what you know is true, while it is possible to learn more truth, new ideas will not undo the wisdom of what has already been gained.
But truth remains truth, even when new things are learned. And if the new ideas contradict the old ideas, they cannot both be true. Truth is, by its nature, unchanging, and inherently consistent. It is this unchanging nature, of both God and His word, which allows men today to have confidence, when they read the instructions of the Bible, to know that God’s word is just as true and powerful today as it has ever been. (cf. 1 Peter 1:22-25)
Resolve this year to spend more time in God’s word, “buying” the truth and incorporating that truth into your life. It will be time well spent.
If you would like a better understanding of God’s word the church of Christ invites you to study and worship with us during the coming year. We meet at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any questions, please share them with us through our website: chapelhillchurchofchrist.org.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.