“Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23).
In the book Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan tells the story of Christian and Faithful as they travel through an ancient town named Vanity Fair, where, all year round, merchandise is bought and sold like “houses, lands, businesses, places, honors, promotions, titles, countries, kingdoms, desires, pleasures, and delights of all sorts such as prostitutes, brothels, wives, husbands, children, masters, servants, lives, blood, bodies, souls, silver, gold, pearls, precious stones, and so forth.” When they traveled through the town, they would see “jugglings, cheats, games, plays, fools, apes, rascals, and mischief makers,” as well as, “thefts, murders, adulteries, and those who perjure themselves by giving false testimonies.”
When they enter the town, Christian and Faithful cause a stir, because their clothes are different and they spoke a different language. But what really upset the citizens of Vanity Fair was the attitude of Christian and Faithful toward the goods displayed at the fair. They would look around to the items in the city for sale and begged God to help them turn their eyes away from worthless things.
Christian and Faithful were mocked for their distance from these meaningless things and they were asked, “What do you intend to buy?”
Their response: “We buy the truth.” Solomon and Bunyan don’t just recommend the truth or just listen to the truth or just know the truth or just wish the truth was theirs or just intend to buy the truth. They say “buy it and don’t sell it for any price!”
That sounds a little cliché; so, what does it mean?
First, it means that we buy only the truth. Too much is given to things that are passing or fading away. How much have you given to expand God’s kingdom this month vs. watching a few movies or eating at a few restaurants? How much time have you devoted to listening to those who speak falsely about God vs. those who speak His holy name and truth?
Second, it means you are willing to buy the truth at any price. If you lose your most precious commodity – life itself – for the truth, it is worth it. If you lose your home for heaven, it was a wise investment. Persecution is always worth it. Buying the truth means you will do whatever it takes – leaving friendships, leaving a career, losing the intimacy with your mate, etc. Only those things which are valuable will cost us greatly. If something does not cost you something, it just ain’t worth it.
Third, it means you buy all the truth. God doesn’t give us some divine buffet line where we can pick and choose which is His truths we want to embrace or not. When you come to the Bible, you cannot pick and choose. Do not try to believe half of it, and leave out the other half.
And, how do you know if you have sold the truth?
You know you have sold the truth if you put an easy life above taking up your cross. People who are always looking for the easy way out don’t understand the Christian life is supposed to be hard and challenging. And people who sell the truth cower when a difficult obstacle comes.
You know you have sold the truth if you love the pleasures of the world. If you think to yourself, “I need to have entertainment above spiritual communion.” If you put the enticements of the world above the affections of the Lord, you have sold the truth. Too much worldly luxury will lead to apathy and spiritual lethargy.
You have sold the truth if the outward is more important to you than the inward. If your sole focus is conforming to an image of Christianity so others won’t bother you or confront you or point their finger at you, you have sold the truth. If your primary motivation for living is so that people see your good works and proclaim, “What a Christian” you have sold the truth.
We cannot afford such a life. We cannot afford selling the truth. The truth is too dear.