A Surety of Truth- Matthew 7:4, Proverbs 21:1, John 18:38

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.

Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.

COMMENTARY

How wilt thou say, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes
I examined in my previous study how each of us is biased and flawed in our own way. Each of us has our personal way of making mistakes. But though this shortcoming applies to us all, we often refuse to see ourselves this way. Most of us tend to see our perspective as being perfectly right, even after receiving evidence to the contrary.
The truth is that we inevitably have limitations and errors in both our observation and our reason. The truth is that we will inevitably misconstrue some things. But instead of accept this, we still assume that we see rightly, and then we warp reality to try and make sense of the insensible.

Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?
Fortunately, we do not have to remain so deluded forever. Some are able to break out of their arrogance and admit their failings. For some of us this will only occur when our mistaken beliefs cause us serious harm, and we are forced to face the fact that we are blind guides, stumbling about in vain.
Having made this admission, we are somewhat enlightened. We are able to admit that we are biased, and unable to discern authentic truth on our own. But then there is a danger of entering another delusion. Like Pilate, we might then become cynical, doubting that there is any such thing as universal truth. If we cannot be entirely sure of what is perfectly right, it is tempting to soothe ourselves with the claim that there is no perfectly right.
Assuming that there is no truth is just as deluded as when we believed we had no fault. We have traded one extreme for another, and are still trying to project our own limited perspective on the rest of the world. There is still a better way.

A Surety of Truth- My Better Truth

The journey of discipleship is mostly a slow and gradual process. We make a sincere commitment to following our Savior, we make him the central force in our life, and then we incrementally become more aligned to his nature. Slowly our behavior pulls itself into harmony with our conscience, and one day we look back and are amazed at how far he has brought us.

But every now and again the changing of the heart is not so effortless or subtle. At some moments we come to a critical juncture, one that will make a dramatic impact one way or another. For now that we have become improved, and can see more clearly, we finally realize that a long-held pillar of our belief is deeply flawed. Where before it seemed a critical foundation of truth, we now see it as an attempt to shore up our childish misconceptions.

To topple it seems a terrifying prospect, though, as we are uncertain what else might break if we do. Is it possible to let go of a misconception without letting go of everything else along with it? If the rotting wood is a piece of your foundation, what happens when it is removed?

I once faced this very dilemma after I had been cleaning up my soul for nearly a year. With the Lord’s help many layers of grime had been cleaned from my windows, and I was finally starting to see a clearer view of reality. And through them I suddenly came to the realization that maybe God wasn’t the severe and condemning Father I had always made him out to be. I knew the scriptures said “God is love,” but I had always seen Him as “tough love.” He punished me for my own good, I believed. My default prayer always began with “I’m sorry for…”

But now, this image just wasn’t lining up anymore. It didn’t fit with the new God I was discovering, and I felt as though God was hurt that I continued to approach Him in that manner. I was actively becoming a better person, and it didn’t have anything to do with a God who punished me into it. He had been overflowing me with grace, not fear, and that had been what made the change in me.

Was it heresy to let go of the old image of God, to try approaching Him in a different way? A part of me insisted yes, but another part said it had to happen, or else I would be forever limited. And in between those two I was amazed that I simply got to choose. Truth is truth, no matter what, but to align with it is a personal choice.

In the end, I chose the reality that I felt was truer: that of a kind and loving God.

A Surety of Truth- Question

In my previous study I considered how each of us has our own personal beam or mote within the eye. As flawed humans we all have a bias, and as a result see patterns in the world that are not there. However we never see our own biases as biases, we see them as empirical truths, inseparable from the foundations of reality.

If we are lucky, one day we will have our perspective irreconcilably challenged, such that we cannot deny that we were wrong. There are few blessings as wonderful as realizing that we have been wrong. For knowing that we were wrong is a prerequisite to becoming better.

But in that effort to become better some confounding questions arise. Now we know that our personal truths were flawed…how can we have confidence that the next truths we settle on will be any better? If we humans are fundamentally flawed, then are we doomed to just always hold fractured philosophies?

With this study I want to consider how we go from a broken belief system to a sure one. How can be confident in our principles, after we were let down by our previous ones? How can we know when we know rightly? How can we not be paralyzed by the fear that we will still make mistakes even as we try our best? How can we accept the guidance of wise leaders, while also accepting that even wise leaders will have some opinions that are wrong?

I would be curious to see how you have dealt with these conundrums in your own life? How do you avoid crippling yourself with doubts? Have you ever had to reconstruct your beliefs after one of your pillars was toppled? What is the core foundation of your belief system now?

The Way That Things Are- John 18:37-38, Doctrine and Covenants 93:24, 30

Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.

And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;
All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.

COMMENTARY

For this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth
Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?

During the trial of Jesus he had philosophical discussions with Pilate, in which he testified of his role as the bearer of truth. Pilate’s response shows a cynical mindset, one that questions what truth even is. Thus we see that a “meh” attitude towards the eternal verities is not a modern invention at all, it has been around for millennia!
For as far back as philosophy extends, the question of absolute truth has been debated. Are there things that are eternal and constant, or is everything shifting and impermanent? And if everything on earth is shifting and impermanent, can there still exist a higher realm where things are eternal and constant?

Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come
All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it
I once heard a brother compare truth to a tool lost in the yard. If a family cannot find the tool, they might have all manner of opinions as to what became of it. The father doesn’t recall that the tool was ever actually owned. The mother knows that the tool was owned, she was the one who bought it for a specific project. The son who used the tool last knows that he must have been the one to lose it, and claims total ignorance of anything to do with the tool whatsoever! The sister hears all of these conflicting opinions and decides that there is just no definitive truth related to the tool.
But there is a truth. It is still sitting under the bush in the backyard, whether anyone knows that it is there or not. Because truth is not based upon opinion. It is simply “things as they are.” And so truth is independent, it does not have to be known or even accepted to exist. It just is.
Pilate didn’t know what the truth was. Not because the truth didn’t exist, but because he did not receive it. He delivered it up to the crucifixion instead. But even though he was ignorant, Jesus still was who he was, and the truth is what it is.

Finding Our Purpose- Question

Everyone knows in their heart that they are on this earth for a reason. Cynicism may eventually make some people doubt it, but all of us at least begin with that basic assumption. Furthermore, each of us know that it is a significant and specific purpose, too. It isn’t something vague or shallow, such as to just “make other people feel happy.”

But even with that knowledge we can still be lost as to what that something we are supposed to do is. Many of us are made quite anxious by feeling that we have a calling, but are not able to hear what it is. Tragically, there are many who never are able to figure it out.

That is not the fate that God intends for us, He does not wish for any of us to live a life without meaning. Each of us has a purpose and we are supposed to live it. When people ask “what is the meaning of life” there are general answers that apply to humanity as a whole, but there is also the more direct question of “what is the meaning of my life?”

With this study I would like to examine how we pursue answers to that question. How do we know when we have actually found our purpose, as opposed to a shallow hobby? In what ways will God communicate His will for us?

In the meantime I would love to hear about your own journey to find your part to play. How do you tell the difference between a divine calling and a vain wish? Have you ever doubted whether you had any higher purpose at all? What was the result of eventually finding your true vocation?