Daily Devotions: Handling the Truth

1 Samuel 3:17 “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.”

Did you ever see the movie ‘A Few Good Men?’ it stars Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson. It’s a courtroom drama and its gripping climax comes when Tom Cruise is cross examining Nicholson near the end. In a battle of words, Cruise passionately insists that he wants to hear the truth, to which Nicholson aggressively replies: “You can’t handle the truth!”

When old Eli insists that the boy Samuel tells him what God has spoken to him, he wants to hear the truth, no matter what it is. Samuel is reluctant to tell him because it is a prophetic curse upon Eli and his sons. But Eli persists and even curses Samuel with the same fate if he does not tell him what God has said.

I wonder if moments later Eli had wished he hadn’t been given the message. The truth was ruthless and full of judgment upon Eli and his family. Would he have been better off being ignorant of God’s wrathful message?

I try to preach the Gospel from the pulpit on Sunday mornings. Sometimes when I’m looking over a chosen passage, I wish that Jesus hadn’t said what He did. I know that when I start preaching the truth, it is sometimes too much for people in the pews to handle. So I’m left with a dilemma, do I please the people by diluting the Gospel, or do I please Jesus by not mincing His words?

The truth about the Gospel is this: some people can’t handle it, so they shape it into something that makes them comfortable and spiritually cozy. But they ignore this truth – how cozy is the Cross? How comfortable are the calls that Christ makes to us to repent, challenge our ways, and change our lives? A Gospel that is comfortable makes us all spiritual couch potatoes; Christ’s Gospel, which is awkward and challenging, makes us who God calls us to be.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we’ve let society become our Savior and allowed the world to become the Word. We’ve surrendered our souls to coziness and peacefulness, instead of aligning our spirits to the Gospel and You. We honestly can’t handle the Truth and so we make up our own Way, which leads us to no Life. Forgive us and rebuke us; direct us and renew us. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to pastor@erinpresbyterian.org.

If you want to watch the courtroom clip, you can see it at the following location: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5j2F4VcBmeo

About Stushie

I'm originally from Scotland and have been a Presbyterian pastor for over thirty years. I live in Knoxville, TN. I enjoy art as a means of therapy, but also as a creative way to strengthen my spiritual connection to God.
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2 Responses to Daily Devotions: Handling the Truth

  1. Cass Wessel says:

    The hard words of Jesus are always a challenge to those of us who preach the Word, whether in season or out of season. I agree. We always have the hard choice to make to be faithful to the total message of the Gospel. Usually, I opt for grace, but for grace to be understandable, we really need to understand why we need grace at all! Thus the need for truth. Thanks for the reminder. Blessings, Sandy

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