The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth

There’s a holiday for just about everything. In July alone, we have Teddy Bears’ Picnic Day (July 10), National Carousel Day (July 25), and Yellow Pig Day (July 17).

But the one that gets me every year is the holiday that falls on July 7: National Tell the Truth Day. The one day all year when everyone is encouraged to tell the truth.

I first learned about this holiday (and I use the term loosely) last year. You may have read my blog about it then. One year later I’m still chewing on the ramifications of a culture that makes it possible for truth to have a designated day, even as a joke. My question this year is, Can we handle the truth?

The answer seems to depend on who we ask. Most politicians don’t think we can handle the truth. That’s why political campaigns are often filled with promises that are rarely fulfilled when the candidate becomes the incumbent.

Advertisements are another venue where the truth is often unrecognizable. Products are dressed up to look better than they are, as we often discover after we purchase them.

Surprisingly, one particular corporation has spent the past year bucking this trend. One of the most successful international pizza delivery companies thinks we can handle the truth. In fact, they staked their reputation on putting the “truth” back in “Truth in Advertising.” How’s that for an innovative marketing strategy?

Contrary to conventional marketing wisdom, Domino’s Pizza launched an advertising campaign acknowledging the subpar quality of their products. Focus groups discussed their disappointment. Corporate executives then rolled out the “new and improved” products, openly inviting feedback. They both gave and asked for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It was the smartest thing they could have done.

Consumers responded with an enthusiasm that surprised financial and marketing analysts. Domino’s experienced a major increase in income and was named the pizza chain of the year two consecutive years by industry leaders.

The Bible is right after all. Proverbs 16:13 says, “Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth.”

Looks like kings aren’t the only ones who value truth…and not just once a year.

National Tell the Truth Day

Many of us can remember chanting the childhood accusation, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.” Perhaps you’ve seen the movie, Liar, Liar, starring Jim Carey as an attorney who cannot tell a lie for 24 hours. Because of this one little impediment, his life is turned upside down and then right-side up again.

There was a time when a man’s reputation was as good as his word. Truth-telling seems to have lost its prestige. It’s so unusual to tell the truth in our culture that we now have one day set aside to do just that. Today, July 7th, is National Tell the Truth Day. On this day, every American is challenged to go a full day without telling a lie or saying something misleading or dishonest.

Imagine that. One day set aside out of 365 to tell the truth.

Before we cluck our tongues and shake our heads, perhaps we should start by being honest with ourselves. How often have we justified telling less than the absolute truth as a charitable act? We don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, so a lie becomes an easy way out, from our opinion of someone’s new haircut to our opinion of their singing talent.

Sometimes the truth is just plain inconvenient. How many times have we had a family member answer the phone with “He’s not here” while we stood three feet away? Or made a sick-call to work so we could spend the day at the beach? Perhaps we’ve been less than forthright about the reason for that missed contract deadline or failure to prepare for a class.

Lying is one of those sins in the Bible that has somehow worked its way to respectable status in our culture. A lie isn’t a lie anymore, it’s a fib, white lie, half-truth, untruth, falsehood, tale, story, or pretense – just to name a few synonyms. As if dressing it up with another name changes its nature.

Just think of all the terms we have for lying: tell untruths, equivocate, fib, mislead, misstate, misrepresent, tell stories, prevaricate, feign, pull the wool over your eyes, fake, pretend – and this isn’t even a complete list!

Sounds a lot like Israel in the days of Jeremiah. “‘Lies and not truth prevail in the land…they do not know Me’, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:3).

But the Bible tells us that God is a God of truth (Psalm 31:5). Truth goes before Him, and like Him, it is everlasting (Psalm 89:14; 117:2). Truth is what He desires for us in our innermost being (Psalm 51:6). And of course, Jesus is the truth (John 14:6).

Not only does He desire truth for us, He instructs us in the benefits of truth throughout the book of Proverbs. Truthful lips are established forever (Proverbs 12:19), and the one who listens to the truth will speak forever (Proverbs 21:28).

Surely we don’t have to wait for a National Tell the Truth Day to be honest. Let’s purpose to tell the truth…today, and every day.