“Speak your truth.”
“You have your truth, and I have mine.”
We’ve all heard these phrases. At times, assertions of “my truth” and “your truth” can sway even the believer’s mind—we become so used to hearing them that we barely acknowledge their implications.
But the brisk epistle of Jude pierces through the foggy myth of “personal truth.” This letter is especially devoted to the theme of believers standing for the truth (see Jude 3). Examining Jude’s approach equips us with wisdom for affirming the existence of biblical truth beyond mere personal truth—within ourselves, in our interactions with unbelievers, and in our interactions with one another.
“My truth” could appeal to us when we feel diminished by others or wrongfully accused. In response to being hurt, we might think, What I believe about myself matters more than others’ opinions. Instead, believers can respond by knowing and believing God’s assessment of us. We can receive what he says as the final opinion.
The brisk epistle of Jude pierces through the foggy myth of ‘personal truth.’
In light of Jude, we can reject personal truth and accept that we are God’s own people, “called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ” (Jude 1). When Jude wrote a confrontational message (Jude 3), he risked being accused of argumentativeness or unnecessary severity. But he knew that his approach, concerns, and hopes for his recipients were grounded in the truth, so he took courage from his calling as a “servant of Jesus Christ” (Jude 1).
At other times, we turn to personal truth to assert our own strength and willpower. “This is my truth” makes us feel God-like. It produces the “good energy” of “creating one’s own destiny” through self-assertion and focused thinking. It thinks, What I will achieve in this life is my truth.
While believers sometimes feel unease about the future, about events beyond our control, we possess faith and hope about what is ultimately to come.
We need no ‘my truth’ for the future because we have ‘him who is able.’
Instead of needing to assert our own future goals, we take courage from the words that conclude Jude’s letter: “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 24). Wherever our earthly days lead, if we live in the promise of one day being with our Lord forever, then our aim—our joyful purpose—is secure. We don’t need “my truth” for the future because we have “him who is able.”
In Our Interactions with Unbelievers
Not only does “my truth” give us a false understanding of ourselves and our futures, it also affects how we relate to others. As we live and speak with unbelievers, subjective language can detract from scriptural truth—if we are not watchful.
We might be tempted to speak the gospel only as “my truth.” This approach can seem humble because we don’t want to appear like we believe we’re superior to others. Yet, we proclaim not ourselves, but the Way, the Truth, and the Life who surpasses this world (John 14:6) and whose salvation is received by the us, the needy.
Or, we could assume that speaking the gospel strictly as personal truth is helpful because it avoids being confrontational—demanding a response from others. But the gospel bears on all people. And only when we unapologetically present Christ’s claims do we portray him as God. There’s no salvation in a “my truth” gospel whose deity becomes god only to those who want him.
Subjective language can detract from scriptural truth—if we are not watchful.
For the unbeliever, “I have my truth” can become a way to preserve a familiar way of life, painlessly dismissing biblical claims. Yet, truth beyond our own perspective is entrusted to believers. Jude says we are to “contend for the faith that has been once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). We recognize that others’ personal “truth” is not sacred ground that deserves our reverence. Our call—“snatching them out of the fire” (Jude 23)—is sacred.
In Our Interactions with One Another
Perhaps for believers, using “my truth” and “your truth” also becomes tempting in relation not only to unbelievers, but also toward believers. With so many evangelical positions on any given topic, we might sigh, Why so many variations in interpretation? Where is the consensus? Exhausted and confused, we may go a faulty step beyond having charity toward one another: we may be tempted to believe that differences in interpretation—personal truth—is to be encouraged or valued.
Yet I think of Jude’s words of introduction, “Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it” (Jude 5), paired with a concluding thought, “Build yourselves up in your most holy faith” (Jude 20). In response to giving us his Word, God anticipates that we will learn and remember it—that we will exert effort toward building ourselves into the correct interpretation. And we take him at his Word that we can do so.
We trust that the life to come will resolve all differences that persist, but while here we don’t surrender to “my truth, your truth” disillusionment in biblical interpretation. Instead, we become all the more determined in study, submission, and prayer. We desire that we who believe in all of Scripture as God’s inerrant Word might together grow ever closer to what is right.
In an age of subjectivity, we can be known for standing wisely and compassionately for a biblical truth by “show[ing] mercy” (Jude 23), taking care in this world that we do so “with fear” (Jude 23), and seeking the glory of “the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Jude 25).