We live in a society where truthfulness is no longer a prevailing principle that guides our lives. Stories are embellished, facts are changed, watered down, and even fabricated in order to make a point, win an argument, or stay out of trouble. Last year, an evening news anchor found himself in hot water for false reporting. Who would have thought that being in the vicinity of a helicopter that was shot down is not the same thing as being in a helicopter that was fired upon by the enemy? In this presidential election season it is sometimes hard to know what is fact, fiction, or a downright misstatement of the truth.
We know that lying is wrong and also sinful. One of the Ten Commandments is very clear on this issue – “Do not lie.” (Lev. 19:11). But what about little white lies; you know, those ever-so-slight stretches of the truth? We have been conditioned to believe that this kind of lying, in certain situations, is justified. As long as nobody gets hurt, we are told, no harm, no foul. A job applicant pads, ever so slightly, his resume. The staff accountant “covers” for the CFO who does not want to be disturbed by telling the person on the phone, “Mr. Smith is not in the office today.” Have you ever been asked, “Do I look fat in this dress?” Or have you ever misstated your age in order to gain some advantage? 50 is the new 40 anyway, right!? We all have been guilty at one time or another of a “fish that got away” story.
While the culture, and often we as part of the culture, rate lies in order to justify our engaging in them, God does not have a ranking scale. To Him, a lie is a lie, and they are all sins. Proverbs 6:16-19 makes it clear that there are no exception clauses; God condemns all lying.
Telling the truth is not always easy, and we may sometimes “lose” something by telling the truth. In the broken world we live in, there is sometimes a “cost” to honesty. You might not get your dream job because someone padded their resume and you did not. In Scripture, in another context, but also relevant to today’s post about lying, Jesus asks this question – “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36)
We are called to be truth tellers. Not only does telling the truth disarm Satan, called the “father of lies” in Mark 8:44, it also honors God. In Proverbs 12:22 we see these words –‘The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.”
We will end with a quote from Mark Twain – “Always tell the truth. That way, you don’t have to remember what you said.”
New Bern, North Carolina