Truth the Touchstone

There is an anecdote about a smug tourist who stepped out onto the sidewalk after going through one of Europe's greatest art galleries. Loudly he boasted to the doorman, "Well, I don't see what's so great about all those pictures." The doorman answered politely but pointedly, "But sir, don't you wish you could see what's great about them?" Sometimes the offhanded comments we make say more about us than they do about the things we pass judgment upon. Standing in the presence of greatness, we often lack the experience and discernment to appreciate what’s before us, and when we give out ill-considered evaluations, we frequently find ourselves to have been weighed in the balance and found wanting. We thought we were doing the judging, only to find out we have been judged.

In the past, the quality of gold or silver samples was determined by the use of a "touchstone," a hard, black stone such as jasper or basalt. The sample was rubbed against this touchstone and the resultant streak was compared to that made by a standard alloy. The sample's "encounter" with the touchstone said nothing about the touchstone -- its qualities were well known -- but it said a great deal about the sample. So it is with some of the most significant things in life: they assay us by our reaction to them. What we truly are is made clear by our contact with these things.

Truth is such a touchstone. You can tell a lot about a person by the way he reacts when confronted with reality. What a person does when he stands face to face with truth says volumes about his character and the kind of human being he has chosen to be. If we will not accept truth and adapt ourselves to it, we not only demonstrate our character to be inferior; we doom ourselves to the suffering that inevitably comes from living on the basis of illusion and error. A life built on unreality is not the "good life," however good it may seem outwardly. Truth is what it is, with or without a right response to it on our part. But our reaction makes all the difference for us.

The most telling events in life occur when we are faced with facts that are unpleasant. How do we respond to truths that have hard consequences? Do we accept them and determine to do what is right? Or do we rationalize, shift the blame, and dodge the issue? Each of these confrontations with truth tests us and shows what we are made of. And if we mean what we say when we claim to "love the truth," we will welcome these tests, knowing that the final reward of truth is far greater than the short term ease that comes from denial and defensiveness.

The ultimate truth, of course, is the truth about Jesus Christ. When we choose how to deal with that truth, we are choosing our eternal destiny, simply because that choice is proof of our character at its deepest level. Jesus Himself said, "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him -- the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day" (Jn. 12:48). It would be extremely foolish for anyone to brag; "Well I don't see what’s so impressive about the teachings of Jesus Christ." At this point in history, the real question is not about Jesus. That He was God in the flesh was established once and for all by the resurrection. No, the only question is what kind of people we are. The truth about Jesus is the most marvelous of touchstones because it gives us the opportunity to deal with the most important of facts. Our integrity, or the lack of it, is manifested by our reaction to the Son of God.