Do you ever lie? Even if you generally tell the truth, do you feel there are times when it is sometimes okay to be less than straightforward?
“Therefore, putting away, lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another.” (Ephesians 4:25)
Do you know what Jesus says about lying?
“He [the devil] was a murderer from the beginning and was against the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he shows what he is really like, because he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Jesus identifies Satan as the originator—the father—of lies and thus whenever we feel a desire to misrepresent the truth, we can be certain where this desire comes from. As the people of God, we should never reflect Satan, but rather be truthful as our heavenly Father is, always doing what is right regardless of cost. Yet in practice, this is sometimes harder than it appears.
Typically, whenever we calculate whether to obey God or not–rather than simply doing what we know is right–we have already crossed over into wrong territory. Our reasons may be for our own benefit or for the perceived benefit of another, but regardless of the motivation, lying is wrong.
Sometimes we lie because we are afraid, whether of another person, or of consequences. But being afraid is cowardice and lying is wrong:
“But cowards, those who refuse to believe, who do evil things, who kill, who sin sexually, who do evil magic, who worship idols, and who tells lies—all these will have a place in the lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelations 21:8) We must never be afraid to tell the truth, because lying is wicked in God’s eyes.
We must not lie because of greed:
“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5) God tells us that in His eyes, covetousness—wrongly wanting something He has not allowed us—is the same as idolatry. Instead of putting God first, when we are covetous we replace Him and put our desire first, which is another way of saying we have made it our idol.
Neither should we lie because we believe we are sparing someone’s feelings:
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Proverbs 27:6)
While we should make every effort to be tactful and encouraging, truth from someone who loves you and cares about you is better, ultimately, than dishonest or undeserved praise from others who don’t really care what happens to us.
We should “speak…the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15a) because knowing the truth is a special gift—even if it initially hurts—that empowers change. If your loved ones are afraid (of either your feelings or your anger) and withhold information you really should be confronted with, you will be none the wiser, and while it may be easier on them not having offended or angered you, you cannot make a change for the better because you are not aware of the problem. If, however, you are confronted with the truth—once you believe it and own it—you now have the opportunity to make a change.
Consider another situation. While some may differ, I believe telling a terminally ill person their true condition allows them time to prepare for their departure, tie up any loose ends, make amends, and take care of business matters. Even though the truth of the situation might eventually become obvious, withholding it may cause unnecessary delay or even leave unfinished serious matters that needed attending.
Ultimately it is Jesus who said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” (John 8:32) yet He is also “…the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) Just as lies originate with the father of lies, truth originates with the One who is truth Himself. When we are truthful, we reflect Him, and in lovingly sharing truth we open the door to healing for others.
Thank You that You Yourself are Truth. Help us to speak the truth in love, and reflect You better to a fallen world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.