The phrase “moment of truth” first appeared in Earnest Hemingway’s 1932 bullfighting story “Death in the Afternoon,” from Spanish el momento de la verdad.(1) In a bullfight, the “moment of truth” is when
“to end a bullfight, the matador takes his sword and must get the bull to charge straight at him, so that he can lean over the bull’s horns and kill him by stabbing just behind the back of the head. Many matadors can do very graceful and artistic moves with the cape and the maleta (the red cloth-on-a stick used to lure the bull) but lack the nerve to do the final killing properly. The ‘moment of truth’ is when he and the audience find out if he really has what it takes.”(2)
The phrase has come to mean a decisive moment of a challenge or test in which one finds if they have the strength, integrity, and courage to do the right thing. For the one who follows God, the phrase as come to mean a time in which we are tested by a temptation or a situation in which we see how strong our faith is and how much we really depend on God.
Believers Standing in the Moment of Truth
In a time of trial or temptation, our character is revealed. The Bible is filled with examples of faithful men and women who stood strong in the face of severe trial.
When David faced the giant Goliath he had great confidence in God’s ability to bring a victory, 1 Samuel 17:31-27. David knew Goliath was defying the armies of Israel, 1 Samuel 17:23-24. Even though King Saul, the brothers of David, and Goliath had no faith in David, in the moment of truth, David’s faith in God brought about a victory.
The book of Daniel begins with Daniel and friends courageously requesting a special diet that would allow them not to violate their conscience though they were new captives under a conquering government. They rose to positions of power and were challenged with a test of faith: Nebuchadnezzar built a golden image and commanded others to worship it on a given time. Daniels friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, had a chance to give up and live or obey God with a chance to die. Though cast into the fiery furnace they were protected from the fire and Nebuchadnezzar was taught a lesson.
Before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed fervently in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was heavy with sorrow and struggled with the violent death He was about to face and the anguish His family and friends would endure. Matthew 26:36-46 tells how Jesus trusted the Father to strengthen Him in trial and take care of Him through death.
We could give many other examples: Abraham being commanded to offer Isaac, apostles being brought before the worldly powers and commanded to quit preaching Jesus, the Christians persecuted from town to town, etc. These examples demonstrate how God’s people will often find times in their lives when they face a test or a temptation, a “moment of truth”, where their faith and obedience is tested.
Our Moment of Truth
We will all face moments of truth. Our friends and family may not know we are facing the test: it may come when we are alone or around strangers away from home. Our loved ones may be going through a moment of truth and we do not realize it.
Our moment of truth may be a very public test with people we love, perhaps fellow Christians, watching to see how we will react when tested. We often do not know when these times will come. Sometimes they are disguised as small decisions about whether to do the right or wrong thing.
In high school, a friend of mine made what seemed like a small decision to hang out with some friends of poor moral character instead of the good friends that he used to hang out with. Soon they were involved in things like alcohol and drugs and, after being caught breaking into the school to steal some sound equipment, was sent away to live with his father in another state and to go down a different path.
Sometimes the test is obvious and you know that this decision will send you on a path closer to or farther away from God.
As a teenager I faced such a decision knowing that choosing one path would lead to a life of selfish and sinful living and the other path would lead to a devotion to Jesus and serving Him. I sat all afternoon on a mountain side contemplating my decision, counting the cost and examining my heart, with a determination that I would choose my path at sunset and live with it.
Many times the test will come when you are bruised, broken down, tired, abandoned, misunderstood, and feel that everyone has given up on you. At those times it is easy to give up on doing the right thing and giving into sin. It is when you are beat up and exhausted that you must dig deep and find the character to stand up, do the right thing, and prevail.
Revelation 2:10 – “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Don’t give up, don’t quit
The moment of victory is often disguised as defeat. Popular superhero movies often show the hero rejected by the public, misunderstood by his family and friends, confused about himself, and doubting his ability to achieve victory but, when it appears defeat is imminent, he finds the strength to gain a victory.
There are many real life examples of people who have been in the same position who, in the moment of truth, stood up to do the right thing amidst doubts from self and others and opposition and gained a victory for good.
We must fight diligently for if we are fighting to overcome sin, God is fighting on our side—but we must not give up the fight. If we are still fighting a long battle, it means that the enemy has not won. He may not be defeated yet, but he does not have the victory! We must not hand Satan a victory and must remember that he will not give up ground that he thinks he can win.
Preparing for the trial and temptation
How can we stand alone like young David on the plain facing the giant, courageous like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the face of the angry and powerful king, or determined like Jesus going to a violent death, or the early Christians facing persecution with great humility and resolve to do what is right?
- Wear your spiritual armor in the time of trial and temptation, Ephesians 6:10-18
- Study God’s word
- Teaches you what you should do, right and wrong, and how you should act
- Teaches you what Satan and his followers do and how they act (what not to do)
- Provides promises of God’s strength and heavenly reward to allow you to endure whatever trial knowing you have a greater reward that awaits you.
- Provides godly wisdom of how to act during the time of trial.
- Gives examples of great men and women of faith who endured great trials and overcame evil.
- Pray for God’s wisdom and strength to endure all trials
- You need God’s power to stand up under the time of trial.
- Consider Jesus’ example in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38)
- Colossians 1:9-11: “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,”
- Be courageous and stand firm in the power of God as David, Daniel and his friends, and many Bible examplesdemonstrate.
- 1 Timothy 6:11-12: “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
- James 4:7-8: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”
If you are living as a child of God every day, studying, praying, actively doing good, forsaking evil, and devoting your life to Christ, you will be ready when you find yourself in the moment of truth.