Some statements are factually true, but they don’t tell the whole truth if you look at the bigger picture of what is being communicated. Witnesses in court swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Here are some examples from sports of how something can be true, but not totally true.
Alabama State University built a state-of-the-art college football stadium five years ago. I went over several times to speak with the coaches and football team. Let me give you a trivia question – Who coached the first Alabama State University football victory in the new Hornet stadium? People immediately answer, “Coach Reggie Barlow.” That is not true. People then have a puzzled look on their face. The first game played was the Turkey Day Classic with Tuskegee, and Tuskegee won. The next year, Alabama State did win, but it wasn’t their first win. Following the first game against Tuskegee, the next game played was the Black and Gold game ending Spring practice. I was invited to be the honorary coach for the Gold team. My assistant was Roger Schultz.
I had Isaiah Crowell on my team. As you may know, he has a great future with the Cleveland Browns in the NFL. We got the ball and let Isaiah run it. He made several large gains and scored. We got the ball back and we kept giving the ball to him. He scored again.
Coach Barlow came over to me and said, “John Ed, you can’t run Isaiah every play.” I asked him, “Why not? He’s making yardage and we’re winning. Unless you say differently, we are going to keep running him till the defense can stop him.” The Gold team, my team, won the Black and Gold game!
So I coached the first Alabama State victory in the new Hornet Stadium. As a coach, I am undefeated. I have a 1000% record. I don’t plan to coach anymore and am retiring with a perfect record!
To say that I coached the first victory for ASU in Hornet Stadium is the truth, but it doesn’t tell the whole truth about the bigger picture of Alabama State University football in the games that actually count on the books. I did get doused with Gatorade, and I did help Isaiah Crowell get to the NFL, but that wasn’t the whole truth.
One of the great basketball players of all time is Kobe Bryant. He is retiring at the end of this year. Any place that the Lakers visit is sold out because people want to see Kobe for the last time. He recently played in his last game in Phoenix. The Phoenix Suns won 119-107. The interesting thing is that the Suns have a 19-year old rookie guard who scored 28 points in his one and only game against the retiring Laker star Kobe Bryant, who played in his Desert Finale and scored 17 points. Devin Booker tweeted “I am 1-0 vs. Kobe. That is the memory I get to tell everybody, and there is going to be proof of it.” When Bryant started his NBA career, Booker was not even born!
Booker is 1-0 against Kobe and outscored him. That is a true statement, but it doesn’t tell the whole truth about the basketball accomplishments of Devin Booker and Kobe Bryant. It’s the truth, but not the whole truth.
Stacey King was a great college and NBA basketball player. Towards the end of his career, he played with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. In one of his last games, Michael Jordan scored 69 points and was taken out of the game with less than a minute to go. Stacey King replaced him.
With a half-minute left in the game, Stacey King was fouled and made two foul shots. He retired right after that, and at his retirement he was asked the question, “What is the greatest moment in your basketball history?” Stacey King replied, “The night Michael Jordan and I scored 71 points together!” That’s the truth, but it doesn’t communicate the whole truth.
Jesus begins many of his teachings with “I tell you the truth.” In John 8:32, Jesus says “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
Truth is not always absolute in our conversation, but it is in Jesus Christ!