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Greg Brothers is an Adventist pastor in Oregon.

Monday, July 25, 2005

You CAN handle the truth

If Richard Nixon had told the truth, he’d still be President of the United States.

He’d be dead, but he’d still be President.

And that’s the point of this week’s lesson – that what you say you did can get you in more trouble than what you actually did.

Politicians know this. So do lawyers, used-car salesmen, and the people who used to run Enron. They all know how words can build trust – or break it.

More than that, they all know that our words show two things at one and the same time:

  • how much we trust other people.
  • how much we can be trusted.

Let’s say that I’m trying to sell you a car, for instance. It’s not a bad car – in fact, it belonged to my brother-in-law, who was meticulous in the way he took care of it. Then again, he did use it to tow a trailer . . . and that can be hard on a car.

So what do I do? Do I trust you with the information you need to make a good decision?

Or do I go with Jack Nicholson. Tell myself that “you can’t handle the truth.” And say that it was owned by a little old lady who only drove it to church?

The same is true of gossip, perjury, slander, and all the other ways that we get in trouble with the words that we use. Most of them boil down to the issue of trust – do they build it, or destroy it?

And that was the problem with Richard Nixon. For when all was said and done, Watergate really was nothing more than a third-rate burglary.

But when it came to what he said about Watergate . . . well, that is when people finally decided that Nixon might be smart. He might be hard-working. He might even have good ideas.

But there was just no way you would ever buy a used-car from that man.

Pastor Greg

And remember: “Truth is stranger than fiction, but not as popular" -- anonymous.

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