The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9 ESV
When you take an oath to tell the truth in a court of law, you don’t get to pick and choose which parts of the story you tell. It’s not just the truth that’s needed, it’s the WHOLE truth and ONLY the truth. The oath used by most courts says: “I promise to tell the TRUTH, the WHOLE TRUTH, and NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH.” But why is this oath so tightly worded?
When we are faced with a situation that might put us in a bad light, or show us up in the eyes of family and friends, we choose the easy way of telling only a part of the story, and it may well be true. That also goes as we recount and retell someone else’s account of events, and perhaps even more so. Telling the whole story can be a hazard to our perceived integrity and reputation, so we speak the parts that only go our way, and leave out the damaging parts. You become very vulnerable when you decide to tell the whole truth, and our human nature doesn’t like it when our pride takes a hit.
When Scripture says the heart is deceitful and sick, it does not overstate or sugar coat the problem. In truth, if we look at our own lives, we don’t always tell the whole truth, and we take the chance no one will notice so that we get away with it, again especially as we retell someone else’s story. And anyway we think, the other person who has a different view, is doing the same thing, so we are equal. Yes, we have hearts that are desperately wicked.
We all know that someone who will only answer the part of the question you put to them, and they hold back the rest. The result is that you must ask the correct questions to get closer to the truth, assuming that you do eventually believe you got the full story. How do I know this? Firstly, the Bible tells me, and secondly, I do recognise that heart and at times, it is mine. Sadly, I can get away with only telling a part of the whole truth that I know, and only seldom get caught out. What about you? Are you open and honest enough, when faced with a real question, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Tough ask, isn’t it? So who is the only one who can be trusted with the whole truth? We must leave that answer in the words of the next verse and be open to the Lord’s searching and testing.
“I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:10 ESV