Hater or Truth-Teller? 6 Ways to Tell the Difference

How can we tell the difference between a hater and a truth-teller? It’s not always easy. But our ability to discern the difference will be crucial to our future growth and success.

If we give too much credence to haters and naysayers, we will end up discouraged or confused as they tear down our identity and undercut our mission.

If we reject the input of genuine truth-tellers, we’re likely to end up full of pride, with dangerous blind spots as to our true condition.

Although it sure would be easier if the haters wore black hats and the truth-tellers wore white hats, it’s seldom so clear. I’ve never met a hater who doesn’t claim to simply be “telling the truth.”

Haters are on the rise today, and we want to make sure we aren’t among them. At the same time, truth-tellers seem to be increasingly rare, because the truth  is not politically correct or socially acceptable these days. Today’s culture considers being tolerant and non-judgmental to be the paramount human virtues, and this is problematic for truth-telling. Anyone who has a strong opinion is considered a hater, whether they are one or not.

So how do we distinguish between speaking the truth and being a hater? Here are six telltale differences:

1. Truth-tellers are interested in dialogue and relationship, but haters typically “fire bomb” their opponents in hit-and-run style.

2. Truth-tellers have an ultimate objective of help and healing, but haters want to silence and destroy their adversaries.

3. Truth-tellers have hope that people will acknowledge the truth and repent, but haters are convinced people will never change.

4. Truth-tellers are humble enough to admit they’re not always right about things, but haters have a smug, know-it-all attitude.

5. Truth-tellers have a track record of making positive contributions, but haters leave a trail of devastation wherever they go.

6. Truth-tellers demonstrate an ability to find the good in things whenever possible (Philippians 4:8), but haters typically are negative about everything.

One day King David was approached by a hater named Shimei (2 Samuel 16:5-13). This bitter man from Saul’s clan cursed at David, threw stones at him, and called him names like “murderer,” “scoundrel,” and “worthless man.” David’s men were outraged, and they wanted to cut off Shimei’s head. To their shock, David said to let Shimei alone, for perhaps the Lord had told him  to say those things!

David’s humility enabled him to realize a vital truth: Just because a person is a hater, that doesn’t mean they’re not also speaking the truth at times. However, rather than following Shimei’s example, Ephesians 4:15 says we’re to speak the truth in love.

If you’re a leader, you need to be careful how you handle haters and truth-tellers. Beware of the tendency to surround yourself with people who flatter you as if you can do no wrong. Make sure you have some people in your life who love you enough to tell you the truth—even when it hurts.

When you are criticized, don’t automatically conclude that the person is a hater. Take their critique to the Lord and ask Him to show you if any part of it is true.

When Nathan the prophet confronted David about his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah (2 Samuel 12), can you imagine what would have happened if David had branded Nathan as a hater and rejected his input? We need to make sure we love the truth  enough to find and embrace the truth-tellers around us.

What about you? Have you been too concerned about what the haters and naysayers think about you? Do you have a few faithful friends who can tell you the truth when you’ve been too blind to see it?


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The Power of Relinquishment

Rediscovering the Lost Secret to a Fulfilled Life

If you’re like me, there’s hardly anything in life more frustrating than when you lose something that’s important to you. The day is off to a bad start if you can’t remember where you put your car keys, your cell phone, or the computer file you’d worked on all day yesterday.

Everything else is put on hold until you find what you lost.

On the other hand, nothing is more exhilarating  than to find something you thought might be gone forever. Jesus tells three stories about this kind of experience in Luke 15, where a lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son all were regained with great joy.

Have you ever had this kind of experience?

Recently I uncovered a “lost” secret to having an adventurous, discovered-filled life. I feel like the man in Matthew 13:44 (MSG) who unexpectedly found “a treasure hidden in a field for years.”  How could I have missed or neglected this “treasure” for so long?

The secret is amazingly simple, found in a single word. It’s a word that probably sounds wimpy or even defeatist at first—yet it’s anything but that.

The word is filled with explosive power and potential, but this may not be obvious at first. It is a lot like nuclear energy—power hidden away for millennia inside of tiny atoms until activated.

Even though this word is never used in the Bible, the concept is found throughout. However, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard a sermon by this name.

So here it is, the forgotten key to a happy, impactful, and prosperous life:


Dictionaries define relinquishment as surrendering, releasing, letting go, or yielding. The closest Bible “proof text” I could find was an obscure marginal reference in Psalm 46:10 (NASB): LET GO and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

The secret to having God exalted in our lives is in simply letting go—relinquishing  something we treasure to Him. Or, as Jesus told us, we must lose  our life in order to find  it (Luke 17:33).

Relinquishment takes a person’s life from ordinary to extraordinary…from bland to blessed…from victim to victor…and from boring to bold. In contrast, nothing is duller or more depressing than trying hold on to what we already have.

Abraham’s son Isaac was just an ordinary young man until Abraham relinquished  him to the Lord and put him on the altar of sacrifice (Genesis 22).

Once Moses relinquished  his ordinary shepherd’s staff (Exodus 4:1-5), it was transformed into “the rod of God,” able to perform mighty miracles.

There was nothing extraordinary about the five loaves and two fish the disciples had on hand—until they relinquished  their supply to Jesus (Matthew 14).

The stone waterpots in John 2 contained only ordinary, colorless, tasteless water, until Jesus took the bland water and did a miracle—turning it into sparkling, tasty, intoxicating wine. You see, whenever RELINQUISMENT takes place, God does miracles and life gets exciting.

So why is it so easy to miss this? The answer is simple: Because of fear and unbelief, we tend to hang on to our meager resources rather than entrust them into the hands of God. How sad, for He has shown throughout history that He can do far more with the resources than we can.

The life of faith is never ordinary, bland, or unexciting. But the “religious” life is a completely different story. Religion always turns the wine back into water and removes the fizz from the adventurous life of discovery God planned for us.

Jesus relinquished the rights and privileges of His heavenly life in order to embark on the great adventure of redeeming humankind and giving us a right to enter the kingdom of heaven. Still today, He beckons us to a life of relinquishment, where it is “more blessed to give than to receive”  (Acts 20:35).

Instead of being a life of boredom or defeat, a life of relinquishment is a life of anticipation, success, and victory. What could God do with that “thing” you are holding in your hand? You’ll never know until you relinquish it to Him. That’s when the fun starts and the fizz returns.


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The Parable of the Lost Jetliner

In one of Jesus’ most famous sermons, He told three different parables about things that were lost: a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son (Luke 15). If He was giving the same sermon today, He probably would add the Parable of the Lost Jetliner.

The facts of the story would already be well known. A commercial Boeing 777 carrying 239 people suddenly vanished from the sky. Despite pervasive modern technology such as radar, communication satellites, and Google Earth, the simply plane could not be found. Debris sighted in the ocean turned out to be a false alarm, having nothing to do with the missing jetliner. Black box “pings” were heard at times, but then the batteries apparently went dead.

People all over the world were captivated by the story. Everyone loves a good mystery, after all.

Video clips of anguished family members were shown by cable news. Unbelievable pain, anger, and confusion fueled tears and tortured screams.

Oh, what love…what loss…what agony.

Meanwhile, TV pundits and aviation experts spouted never-ending theories on what could have happened. Was terrorism involved? Did one of the pilots take the plane on a suicide mission? Was there some kind of catastrophic electrical failure? Had the plane been hijacked and landed in some remote location? One CNN anchor even asked if a black hole might have been involved!

After more than a month of fruitless searching for the hapless jetliner, billions of dollars had been spent by countless countries and humanitarian organizations. But despite the focus of the entire world and a massive outlay of resources, the plane and its 239 people remained LOST.

At this point in the parable, Jesus would segue to some personal applications for His followers. In particular, He would note a strange fact: While people around the world devoted enormous time, money, and technology to recover a lost plane and 239 lost people—people who were already dead—there were hundreds of thousands of LOST people in every major city in the world. “Where is the passion, anguish, and commitment to find and rescue those  lost people?” He would ask.

Jesus then might remind us that when He stated HIS mission statement, He was also giving us OUR mission statement as His followers: “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost”  (Luke 19:10). I don’t think He was referring to lost jetliners. He meant people—sinners in need of a Savior.

Shouldn’t we be challenged to have the same kind of anguish for lost souls as the relatives have for their loved ones who were on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370? Shouldn’t our devotion to rescue the perishing surpass the energy and resources shown by the search teams combing the Indian Ocean? Where are our tears for the lost people all around us?

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