Clear Out the Lies To Live By the Truth

Written by
Carrie Poling

Have you ever heard of the word ‘presupposition’? I hadn’t before my freshman year at Indiana Wesleyan University. My highly revered professor, Dr. Glenn Richard Martin, had a vast vocabulary full of ‘new-to-me’ words that had me questioning if I was smart enough to sit in his classes.

Big Words and Lasting Lessons

Dr. Martin knew he was on borrowed time – I only got one year with him before his body gave in to brain cancer. He taught until the very near end; until his body wouldn’t let him continue. He was visibly physically uncomfortable and struggling, but somehow, he faithfully showed up to class (assisted at times by an aide at his side.) He may not have followed the pre-formed syllabus too tightly, (tangents and soap boxes were the norm), but he was ‘on a mission’, and he was impassioned to teach us to ask the big questions to form our foundation of ‘absolutes’ (another one of those big words I had to look up) from which to form our ‘worldview’.

I really didn’t get his wisdom at the time. I’m ashamed to admit it, but back then I was annoyed we weren’t learning the course material as I had expected, and I’m guilty of judging him to be a bit on the eccentric side. I was unaware of the significance of the gifts I was receiving. But thankfully wisdom can age well -- just like a fine wine, and in this case, I can trace back some seeds of wisdom that were instilled and are now hopefully maturing well and bearing fruit.

Why This Matters

Dr. Martin believed in the sovereignty of the one Almighty and personal God. The creator and the very origin of life, truth, light, and love. Doc knew the secret nugget of wisdom that our belief in God is the most important thing about us. It’s the essence of who we are and who we are becoming. Our identity at its very core is at stake. How we see ourselves in relationship to God forms us. We have a creator and are defined by who He says we are -- not by our own cloudy and fickle standards. If we see God as distant and uninvolved – perhaps we’re apathetic to seeking him or searching issues and questioning values or good vs. bad. If we believe God knows us better than we know ourselves and loves us deeply and unconditionally and longs for an intimate relationship with us, perhaps we’ll be compelled to dig deeper and welcome His involvement in our daily life. I try to hold my view of God as that of the latter.

My absolute is the truth of God’s sovereignty, which forms my presuppositions: aiming to base my values on God’s values – this shapes and interprets how I see the world around me (my ‘worldview’); accordingly impacting my thoughts and actions. I ‘suppose’ or ‘assume’ that the most important aspects of living my life are: my relationship with God, followed by my relationship with others and myself. God cares deeply about people and relationships – this is clearly demonstrated throughout the entire Bible and in the way Jesus conducted Himself. God is involved and God cares – He did then, and He does now.

God knows us and loves us and desires a relationship with us. Each individual person matters to God. So how can we respond to this truth and live in it? Our best response to God’s values is best explained by Jesus when he was asked what the greatest commandment was. He replied simply: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

It’s the first commandment that makes doing the second commandment possible. We are first loved by God and even though it’s not always easy, when we see ourselves as lovable (through God’s eyes), we can see others as lovable. I trust that if I live my life surrendered to these values –and do my best to live by them, I’m submitted to God’s will for me, and I know I’ll be living life to the full - to my best and highest use and potential: for God’s glory and His purposes. Of course, I’ve faltered and stumbled (and still will) – but God has never left my side.

Find and Dispel the Lies

Lies pervert and twist the truth. If we haven’t given the truth the space it needs to take up permanent residence in our minds and lives, we’ll fall for anything. We’re all desperate to find the truth – we’re hungry for it, so we’ll fill that void and yearning with anything we can access. Matthew Perry speculates in his memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing: A Memoir: “But magic never lasts; whatever holes you’re filling seem to keep opening back up. (It’s like Whac-A-Mole.) Maybe it was because I was always trying to fill a spiritual hole with a material thing… I don’t know.” Later on, Perry ponders: “I figured being famous would fill the great hole that was endlessly growing inside me.”, and later: “now all these years later, I’m certain that I got famous so I would not waste my entire life trying to get famous. You have to get famous to know that it’s not the answer. And nobody who is not famous will ever truly believe that.” I appreciate Matthew’s candid and deep insights.

There’s a reason the first commandment in Exodus 20:3 is to “have no other Gods before me” and then again in the New Testament as the greatest commandment, Matthew 22:37-38: “to Love God first with all our heart, soul, and mind.”   God doesn’t give us this command because He’s a narcissistic egomaniac that has to be first. He did it out of love because He knew to love anything else more than Him causes us suffering. We’ll simply continue carrying on in our oblivious emptiness, trying to fill our holes. To put anything before God separates us from Him – the very source of life and gets in the way of our ability to become the best version of ourselves and our ability to live our best life with God’s help.

The Dangerous Lie

The most fatal lie of the world comes in attractive packages, is eloquently stated, and appeals to us as the cure for our inner fears and insecurities. It twists and turns our dependence away from God and places it in our own hands or the hands of another. This is the lie of self-sufficiency -- reliance on ourselves (humanism) to solve all of our problems. We want full control of our destiny. Of course, this naturally results in relativism which is the opposite of the existence of any absolutes (absolute truth). Relativism conveys that “your truth is your truth, and my truth is my truth. There is no ONE truth.” As mentioned by our very own pastor, Rob Yonan, it was the late Francis Schaeffer who warned us that this worldview will render us to the fate of the arbitrary values of ‘personal peace and affluence’.

Although our souls are intrinsically wired for the eternal and a spiritual relationship – we live in the temporary/temporal world and the name of its game is “survival of the fittest.” It’s a tale as old as time –  sacrificing long-term gain for short-term comfort.  We see it in the book of Genesis when Esau gave away his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew.  Survival of the fittest is a natural law here to serve for our protection, but we take it a little too far sometimes and we must recognize that we’re governed by a much higher law – God’s way of life and guidance.  

Although we’re no longer living in hand-to-mouth hunter/gatherer communities, we still have our survival needs and typically the underlying currency to meet those needs is monetary. Whether we realize it or not, money tends to bear on nearly every decision we make and we center our entire lives and civilization around it. Much like the proverbial tale featuring the frog’s slow demise in a pot of boiling water – our love of money is almost as ordinary as the air we breathe.

Jesus knew the love of money would be a danger to us and loved us enough to warn us. In Matthew 6:24, Jesus clearly says: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”  Money feeds the common vices with which we seek to fill our holes: vices named by the Greeks during the historical church timeframe in which the New Testament was authored: 1) Love of pleasure, 2) Love of possessions, and finally, 3) Love of personal glory. We can remember them as the three ‘P’s’.  Stray away from lies promoting these vices. Ask yourself: what’s the purpose of this message? Or, what is this message promoting?

At large, our culture fuels the need to control and protect (aka survival of the fittest)– again – via monetary gain. We fall for the lie of thinking, “if we just have more, we’ll finally have enough.” Sadly – enough never seems to be attained.  Be wary of our culture’s odes to money and what it will gain us. Here are some of the most common phrases that subconsciously place money in our mind as life’s highest priority: financial security, financial independence, financial peace, and the most insidious of them all have a healthy (positive) relationship with money.  

Money alone can’t buy these positions and feelings or truly protect us against the things it advertises, nor are they all ideals worthy of attaining. We’re not made to be independent – (humans have needs that can’t be independently met,) and we certainly cannot have a relationship with money. Relationships are dynamic and are a two-way connection. Money can’t love us back. We can merely form an opinion about money and its purpose.

I’m not saying money is good or evil – it’s neutral, just a tool. People direct money and its uses. Somehow, as a person whose formal collegiate education and career to date has been in the financial realm and industry, I believe God in his goodness has protected me from a love of money. I’ve needed His shield to continually inoculate me as my defense, and I trust he’s instilled a healthy fear of money in me when the world is begging me to be attracted to it. I’ve witnessed the harm of the alluring and intoxicating elixir that money offers, and I’ve learned to apprehend it with much caution.

Our opinion of money can be simply formed. At its worst, our opinion about money causes interference with our ability to be in healthy relationships. At its best – it strengthens relationships. If there’s one truth that aligns with both the world’s law and God’s law, it is this: we’re not meant to do this life alone. Loneliness is the danger to avoid and is a core fear all of us naturally carry. Money is not an authentic cure for loneliness, but living God’s way is.

The Truth

Living God’s way is to embrace relationships. Rooted in the first and second greatest commandments, we must Love God, love others, and love ourselves. I invite you to consider my simple triangle illustration below. Only relationships can fill our holes and give us wholeness. The head and the heart must align and work together through God’s gracious love and guidance to help us recognize wholeness. Wholeness is defined formally per the Oxford dictionary as: “the state of forming a complete and harmonious whole; unity. The state of being unbroken or undamaged. Wholeness enhances a sense of peace, fulfillment, satisfaction, meaning, and contentment.” I contend that wholeness is a state of being sourced from our regard for and care of our most important relationships. The relationships that are right in front of us – whomever that may happen to be at the time and season in which we find ourselves.

The triangle isn’t perfect and most often won’t be equilateral – but we’re always supported by our foundational relationship with God and it's our greatest privilege to bring others in that foundation with us and to lean on one another during this adventure called life. We’re obeying, loving, and honoring God when we honor others in healthy relationships. Draw near to God first and He will help us love others well. Only God can truly mend the brokenness inside us all. As the author of Ecclesiastes puts it, without God, we’re “chasing after the wind” always trying to fill the big empty. Our lives aren’t whole without God in it. Don’t try to fill the holes with a cheap substitute. Don’t fall for the lies. Only God can offer lasting satisfaction. How will you make space in your life to lean into your most important relationships this year?

To learn more, dive into our sermon series, Breathing Room. You can watch full services on our website or hear the message on our podcast. If you need help creating more financial breathing room in your life and life in the Fishers, Indiana area, you can make a financial care appointment.

Meet the Author

Carrie Poling is a mom of two, wife to Tyler, small business owner, budget coach in training, and aspiring writer and author seeking to promote contentment in our everyday living