Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Factual Truth

Proverbs 24:6 …. in the multitude of counselors there is wisdom.

I listened attentively to an acquaintance give a passionate speech on how he viewed a particular issue. While I agreed with his viewpoint, I grimaced as he provided his “proof” that his viewpoint was correct. He quoted several statistics that were very outdated. He gave numerous examples that have been proven by several different well known sources to be false. Though he spoke with great passion and incredible conviction, the factual inaccuracies of his speech took away all of his persuasive power. Finally, someone in the audience (who to the best of my knowledge also agreed with the speaker’s perspective) pointed out that his facts were out of date and that his examples were proven to be false. The audience member suggested the speaker update his presentation and then give it again at a later date. Instead of agreeing to look for new information to bolster his claims, the speaker doubled down on his presentation and said that that’s just the way he viewed the situation and he was sure that was how “everyone else who mattered” viewed it too. I left frustrated with my friend. I felt like he was wasting his passion and energy promoting the right idea in the wrong way. Clearly he would be much more persuasive if he listened to the advice of his audience and updated his facts and used accurate examples. But in his mind, since that was his viewpoint, then he was entitled to it and everyone else should just accept it. I doubt many people in the audience agreed with his conclusion.

Far too many of us are like my friend. We tend to have already decided what we believe before we do the research. We come up with our tweetable one liners and our quippy Facebook statuses and let them fly before we even hear what the facts are on any particular subject. And sometimes we keep using data that we know is outdated or incorrect just because it supports our perspective. This makes no sense to me. If something is the truth, then it will stand the test of facts, figures, illustrations and research. And if something is not true, I don’t want to be promoting it, even if it might bolster my opinion.

When we enter into a discussion with our minds made up before listening to anyone else’s thoughts or ideas, we court disaster. The Bible reminds us that in the multitude of counselors there is wisdom. That does not mean that we need a committee to vote on what is true. But it does mean that we might need other people to help us think through how that truth applies to our lives. No one person understands any single issue completely. We need each other to help us sort out the complex issues we face as a culture. That means we must listen with an open mind. It also means we have to use accurate facts and examples. We can’t make stuff up just to prove our point. We need honest open discussion and the hard work that goes along with that. But when we are willing to engage in that kind of hard work, the Holy Spirit can use our words to persuade many people to the cause of Christ.

Lord, help us to listen before we speak. When we do speak, help us be accurate in what we say, as well as persuasive in how we say it. Amen.


Dr. Terry W. Dorsett serves at the Executive Director of the Baptist Convention of New England. He has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

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