“Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own” (John 7:17).
“There’s a big difference between pressing the shutter release and pushing it,” my college photography instructor explained. “When you push down the button when taking a picture, you tend to overreact and move the camera. If you want to get a crisp picture, especially in low light, slowly squeeze the shutter release.”
Photography has changed significantly in the past 30 years, but the principle of getting a clear picture remains the same. It helps to have a steady hand. That’s also the case when trying to capture truth. Is finding truth purely a mental exercise? If we bend our intellectual energies toward uncovering objective realities, might we discover factual propositions that are trustworthy? Since we now “see in a mirror, dimly” and only “know in part” (1 Corinthians 13:12), can we be confident of reaching solid conclusions?
Like pushing the shutter release on a camera, we tend to overreact when it comes to finding or sharing truth. Our propensity to exaggerate makes a focused picture difficult to capture. A self-justifying spirit lies within us and runs through our veins. We naturally lean toward wanting others to not only know what is right, but to know we are right. Pushing this button blurs this image.
Welded to the Spirit
That’s why truth must be welded to the Spirit (John 4:23). It is never a table of facts or logical set of statements displayed in a flowchart. Though Scripture is certainly the foundation of truth (Isaiah 8:20), we fool ourselves if we think we can arrive at truth by our own efforts. Truth comes only through the Holy Spirit. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth)” (Ephesians 5:8, 9).
Sin narrows our vision. We see truth through our own little pinhole of light and miss the multidimensional depth of truth. We forget that truth is both objective and subjective; it is both logical and relational, intellectual and emotional. It stands on solid ground while reaching toward higher ground. It insists on protecting community while at the same time pushing toward progress. It is not something just found with our minds, but must include our hearts (Jeremiah 29:13).
A steady mind to arrive at truth, like a stable hand in photography, will not come through half-hearted efforts driven by self-centered motives. In proving ourselves right and others wrong, we distort the picture. Controversial spirits push the shutter release and promote unbalanced positions. But a meek attitude sets aside our desire to look good in print or in public, and uplifts Christ as the true focus of all truth.