Mike Novotny - Whose Truth Do I Trust? Their Truth?
So back in grad school I had a professor use to say this one line again and again and again and again. The line that he wanted to plant very deeply into everyone of his students' hearts was this: "You are what you read". You are what you read. You have probably heard the phrase before, you are what you eat. Right? It is not literal. Does not mean you eat a tomato you are a tomato. It means when you put certain things in your body, they affect you physically. Have a sausage McMuffin for breakfast with a couple of donuts for a chaser and it will affect you. You are what you eat. What he wanted all of his students to know is the same thing is true with the voices that we expose ourselves to.
If you read this kind of book long enough you might not agree with all of it but eventually it will seep into your soul and it will affect you. Right if you did some quick math on all the minutes, if you think about the cable news network you watch the most, the daily podcast that pops into your feed, the friends that you listen to, the professors that you are in their class every day. Whether you love it, hate it, agree with it, disagree with it. Whose voice do you hear the most? Now if you have your list, here is my big question for the day.
Is that message a source of truth that you can trust? These two or three people who get more of your attention than anyone else, are they helping you to believe the things that Jesus believed, and to behave in the ways that Jesus behaved? Can you trust their truth? And if you still have your pen in your hand I would love for you to write this down. God would ask, their truth? Are they speaking the truth to you? This first answer just might be, maybe. Maybe. It might sound very spiritual to, you know, think if it is just me and my Bible, me and God. People can lie. People can deceive you. People can lead you astray but if it is just me and God doing life together I am going to get as close as possible to the truth. But God would say to that, no maybe you need people. Maybe my grand design was to surround you with people so that you could have not just a little bit of the truth but the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
In other words, if you are attempting to cross out all the names on your list so it is just you and the scriptures, God would say not so fast. Because if it is just you and me you are not going to hear everything that I want you to hear. You can see in your programs if you here, live in church, there is actually three points I want to make to prove that God wants to surround you with other people who can speak into your life, get your heart and shape your view of truth. That without them you will never become the kind of Christian that God wants you to be. So here is the first of the three points of that end. First of all God would say that they, friends, family, professors, podcasters, they sharpen you. They sharpen you.
There is a classic passage in Proverbs 27 that says this, "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another". This is God's way of saying that if it is just you kind of doing life your way eventually the day to day will kind of wear you down. You will lose your edge and you will end up as a dull disciple. You know that about the knives in your kitchen? Eventually after enough use they get a little bit dull. The same thing happens to people. And so God puts people into our lives, they. And they sharpen you. Right they have those conversations were there is a little bit of heat. Little bit of friction. It is not a smooth, you know, comfortable conversation that the sparks fly. You might get emotional and it is because of those relationships and those people that you stay sharp.
For example, let me talk to the husbands here for a second. Hands nice and high, where are my husbands at? Yeah, got a bunch of you. How about single guys here who hope to be a husband someday, where you at? Okay, a whole bunch of you. Sorry single guys if you are sitting next to your girlfriend that just got really awkward, didn't it? "I hope to be". Husbands, I think when we met the woman that we fell in love with we were probably very sharp. But then life happens. And the day to day with work and the boss and the emails and the promotion and the extra hours and maybe there is a kid and there is another kid. You are running here, you are running there.
And one of the worst things can start to happen in your heart. You assume. They assume that marriage is going to be amazing even if I have not put in amazing work into my marriage. They assume that I can be amazing at work. And I can be an amazing dad. And I can be an amazing friend. And I can pick an amazing fantasy football line up. I can be an amazing coach. An amazing whatever. And it is going to be amazing at home even if I just walk through the door. Which is so obviously dull. I mean God said if you try to pitch that to me in any other area of life... Man, I am really strong today. I use to lift weights in high school. No, no. I am feeling really good today. Six months ago I got a great nights sleep. You know the connection between today and today. And it is the same with marriage, right?
The same with any relationship. You have to work on it today. You have to keep your vows today. But before I pastor you, I have to be a rock star in my home. Today's affection is based off of today's effort. And sometimes, not intentionally, we lose sight of that. We are trying to juggle the responsibilities we forget the importance of the vows that we take. And so, guys do you know what you need? You need moments like right now. Right? You need someone to come with the word of God and keep you sharp. We need each other and these confrontational Christian conversations where the sparks fly, and we get a little bit defensive. But like iron sharpens iron, so one person can sharpen another. And it is obviously not just a husband. It is not just a marriage thing. It is a people thing.
We can get too used to and too comfortable with certain behaviors and sins. And sometimes it takes a group of friends, sometimes it takes a church family, sometimes it takes the right podcast, the right video that you see that kinda snaps you out of the dullness and gets you back to being a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ. Their truth. God would say for sure. We need other people to point out things that we simply do not see. So I am gonna give you a bunch of homework today. Here is the first thing on my list. I want you to find someone that lives in proximity to your life and give them permission to sharpen you. In other words, I want you to pick someone to help keep you accountable. But they cannot be the person you rarely see. They need to be someone up close, who sees you on a regular basis.
And I want you to give them full permission to let the sparks fly. Ask them a dangerous question like, what do people think of me? What is it like to be my coworker? Hey, we are friends. What am I totally ignorant of? As iron sharpens iron, one person sharpens another. And if you will have the humility to do that, they will speak the truth and the truth will set you free. Why do you need another people? First of all, they sharpen you. Number two, if you are taking notes. They also comfort you. Jesus' half brother James said this in James 5:16, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed".
So here is my homework for you. Today I want all of you to preach the gospel to another Christian. There is time Christians think I should share the gospel with my non-Christian friends. I should tell them that Jesus lived, and he died, and he rose for the forgiveness of sins. And yes, that is a great thing to do. But you know who else needs the gospel? People who already believe it. And they lose sight of it. And they forget it. So as long as I am giving you tons of homework, I want you to ask someone to confront you, sharpen you. And then I want you to preach the gospel at someone who needs it.
Now maybe think of someone who really messed up in past six months. Someone whose relationship fell apart. Someone who cheated on their spouse. Someone who relapsed. I want you to find them as quickly as possible and just preach at them. Do not suggest, do not offer your opinion. You come with the authority of God because he is given it to you. All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me Jesus said. And so he sent his friends and said go, make disciples, preach the good news to all creation. Because you and I need them. We need their truth. To sharpen us. To comfort us. And here is my third point, because they might be the only ones in the room who see you. They see you.
Now you might think you know yourself pretty well, but there honestly are some things about you some beautiful God given things that you do not know without them. I think this classic passage from 1 Corinthians 12 the apostle said, "There are different kinds of gifts," spiritual gifts or talents, "but the same spirit distributes them". I mean your nose does not think wow I am amazing. It is just a nose, it does what it was created to do. But if you could talk to the ears, or the eyes, or the knees, or the toes they would say I do not know how he does it. And it is the same thing with people, right? It feels so natural. But sometimes it takes other people speaking into your life to say, how in the world do you do that? It is like the person who could make small talk with anyone. You know people like that?
It is like you go into the gas station for a donut and a coffee. Five minutes later they are still talking to the stranger they just met at the counter. Like how you do that? Small talk makes me feel uncomfortable and awkward. I hate it. But you seem to love it. How can you meet a perfect stranger and like have their phone number and be praying for their deepest darkest secret in seven minutes or less? That is incredible. How do you do that? Have you ever met someone who is so compassionate and empathetic that they just know who to talk to after the meeting is over? They can read the room. The decision gets made. We are going this direction. And they can just feel like no, she is not there yet. And while the rest of the team would move on and leave bodies in the wake of decision making, some people have that gift just to see it. To know it. To make sure we are united.
And you say how do you do that? I did not even notice that. I would not even thought of that. Like that is incredible. And so today I wanna add this to your list of homework. Point out someone's gift. And when they try to be humble and bashful, ignore them. "Oh, it is nothing. Anyone could do it". No, it is something, not nothing. And no everyone could not do it. There are different gifts and God has given you a gift and I honor it and I am grateful for you and we need you. There are simply things that you cannot see. There might be bad things like sins. They may be good things like the gospel. And you need people in your life to speak to you. God would say their truth.
Think about your list, should you keep listening to those voices? He would say, maybe. Well pick up your pens because you know what else God would say? Maybe not. Write that down too. Should we listen to their truth? Should we keep listening to those podcasts? Watching those Instagram videos? Those news stations, listening to those friends? God would say maybe not. That is actually what I learned from interviewing a professional journalist, a US attorney, a private investigator, two police officers and two preschool teachers. This past month I did seven interviews with those people. And I asked them all a single question. Do people tell you the truth?
I asked the journalist, the attorney, the cops, the preschool teachers. And you want to guess what they all said to me? When they pull someone over to the side of the road. When the preschool teacher has to have a hard talk with the children. When they are digging into a story or they are in a court room. Do people tell you, I mean we are all in favor of truth and against lies right. Do people tell you the truth? And they said, maybe not. One cop gave me the best example. He says I pull someone over on the side of the highway. They roll down the window. I say excuse me sir, do you know how fast you were going? And this guy says. Like come one. I asked the cop like how do you know if someone is lying to you? He says when they open their mouth.
And this is what I learned too. Like when there is obvious evidence in the case. It is like the hand is in the cookie jar. When my wife says who did not clean up their toys, as a preschool teacher, the chattiest kid in the world who left the mess behind him he suddenly becomes a mute, right? It is like you would think people would tell you the truth but they do not. Now the private investigator called this the self-preservation instinct. That people will tell the truth unless the truth hurts. Unless the truth causes trouble.
Makes me think of Ephesians 4 the apostle Paul said this, he said, "They," notice that word, "They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts". It is easy to talk about when dad gets too fired up. When mom's rules are too restrictive. The curfews, the screen time. All the extra rules. And you know what all of that might be true. But you know what the whole truth is? Honor your father, honor your mother, obey your parents, submit to their authority. And I just want to ask you an honest question teenagers. How often your friends speak that truth to you? Parents, how often do we speak the truth to each other? We get together. We vent. We are exhausted. It happens. The kids are crazy. You are raising little ones. You are changing diapers. You are running all over.
Then there is teenagers. Whole other stage. Whole other challenges. And you know sometimes we speak the truth of what is happening. The dishonor, the disrespect, the difficulty of it. How often though do we ask each other, are you exasperating your kid? Remember that passage, Ephesians 6, is it? Verses 4 and 5. "'Parents do not exasperate your children". Are your rules a bit too strict? A bit too much? Do we ever ask each other that? And the answer is probably no. We speak some of the truth but not the whole truth. If you are watching at home and you are not really a church person or you just caught this message on TV and like you do not have a pastor, you do not have a place. Because you know what sometimes the church is about money. And sometimes church people are hypocrites. And sometimes they have an agenda. And sometimes they are not really good people.
And you know what? That might be absolutely true. But is it the whole truth? You know the Jesus who knew that, the Bible that says let us not give up meeting together, the New Testament that constantly speaks of community, and authority, and shepherds, and pastors, and the body of Christ. Do you and your non-church going friends speak the whole truth? And church people, do we? And it is easy to be frustrated with the weekend sport schedules and our kids and grandkids who do not come to church anymore. But do we ever ask ourselves the question, are we a church that smells like Jesus? You see it, right?
I think it is super quiet right now because I am not making stuff up. When a bunch of women get together or men or pastors or teenagers or parents or republicans or democrats. It is so easy to speak half the truth because half the truth keeps us comfortable. But friends Jesus was not half the truth. He was the way, the truth, and the life. And so I need you to think very critically about the list that you wrote down a few minutes ago. Is your list diverse enough that you are not just getting convenient half truths but the whole truth? That will challenge you and comfort you. That will sharpen you and speak grace to you. If we are going to be a different sanctified kind of people, then we cannot pick and choose. We need to speak the whole truth to each other.
So what should we do? Are those people being honest with us? God would say maybe, maybe not. Which is why there is a passage I want to come back to. I spoke it to you last week. I am going to speak it to you next week. And the passage, some of you memorized, is this, John 17:17. Jesus was praying he said Father, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth". I love that fact. This is the source of truth that we can always trust. Your word is truth. Jesus the son of God believed. It is not biased. It is not convenience. This book will take you to the lowest lows and the highest highs. It will humble you. It will confront you. It will sharpen you. And it will take you by the hand and lift you up to a kind of peace and forgiveness and joy that this world simply cannot give. The word is truth.
But here is an amazing detail in Jesus' prayer. He said Father I want you to sanctify them. Sanctify them. He did not pray Father sanctify him or her or just one. What Jesus was praying the night before he bled was them. A group of people who would be sanctified. Set apart. Different. So shaped by the word that they would love not just pieces of it but all of it put together. And so here is my challenge for you today if you are taking notes. I want you to find them. As you think about your list for the next six months find them. Find people. Listen to people. Subscribe to people who are sanctified. Who are so shaped by the truth that they do not just say the easy things that are convenient, they start here with themselves.
If you find someone whose ideas and solutions will cost them personally, I can almost guarantee you are closer to the truth of God. If you find a political party or a single politician whose ideas will cost him or her personally, you are closer to the truth that will set people free. If you find a group of Christians, a Bible study or a church they should just vent and lament about the world, but it starts here with confession, lament, repentance and humility. You are one step closer to them. And if you find them, you will be surrounded by the truth. You are what you read, my professor said. You are what you listen to. You are what you binge. If he was right, then find them. So they can take you by the hand and lead you to Jesus who is the truth. Because Jesus once prayed, Father sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. Let us pray:
Dear God, I thank you so much for community. I thank you for this church. I thank you for Time of Grace. For all the people that have sharpened me, encouraged me, help me see my unique spiritual gifts and most importantly have reminded me of you. Honestly Father you know I feel so emotionally healthy right now in life. And it is because I do not have to fake it. And I am surrounded by people of faith who can hear my confessions and give me Jesus Christ. And Lord that is my prayer for everyone here, for everyone listening who is disconnected, for everyone who has yet to do life together with other sanctified people. We are tempted God to find people that make it easy. But really deep down we want people who will sharpen us, grow us, challenge us. And remind us by the blood of Christ that we are loved, we are forgiven, we are safe, and we are saved. And so I pray heavenly father in a thousand ways you will open doors. I pray that the people here who have found community will praise you for it today. And the people who would not would take a courageous step, would join a group, would make a confession, would do today's homework. And through it you will sanctify them and give them what Jesus prayed for. I thank you God for friends. I thank you for family. We thank you for church. And most importantly today we thank you for truth. We ask it all in Jesus' name, amen.