Little white lies. Fibs. Untruths. Exaggeration. Manipulation. Spinning the truth. Cover-ups. Half-truth. Slight stretches.
Are you a liar? Most of us would say no. Liars are people who perjure themselves in court, who deceive their spouses to cover up affairs, who commit tax fraud. Most of us don’t do those things, so we consider ourselves truthful. Yet, the truth about lying is that even its euphemisms are lies. They sound nicer, and we can all give examples of when we think they would be justifiable, but at the core, they really are still lies. Our motivation doesn’t matter – only our actions do. And if we tell an untruth, in any way, shape, or form, we are liars.
I’ve noticed an alarming trend in the Christian community of people claiming to be Jesus-followers, yet “spinning the truth” to suit their agendas. Meanwhile, the rest of us sit idly by, nodding and smiling our way to complicit agreement with these lies. Well, friends, I’m not willing to call a spade anything other than what it is – a spade.
People of God, we are more deeply entrenching ourselves in the muck of the hypocrisy of which the world accuses us every day. When we allow “little white lies” to come out of our mouths and call them the truth, we perjure ourselves in the court of public opinion. Well meaning though the lies may have been, all anyone outside the church will hear is another hypocrite Christian when the “exaggerated truth” is found out. And those in the church will feel manipulated and betrayed. Whether it’s in or out of church is irrelevant; if we call ourselves Jesus-followers, we have to walk the difficult path of complete truth. That means telling the truth even when it’s inconvenient, uncomfortable, or to our own detriment.
Being truthful sounds nice when packaged in the wrapping of good feelings and positive outcomes, yet telling the truth rarely ends in a kumbaya moment. In reality, honesty can lose you friends, jobs, money, comfort, and status. Notice the distinct lack of good feelings involved. But when God commands us to tell the truth, it doesn’t come with the caveat of “if it feels good.” We have to tell the truth, in love, no matter what it costs us.
How many times every week do lies easily cross our lips? What lies are we telling that we don’t even think twice about because they’ve become so commonplace?
“No, officer, I had no idea how fast I was going.” “I really wish I could be there but I have plans that night.” “Sorry, buddy, I don’t have any change.” “No, honey, I didn’t even notice that woman.”
The way I see it, when it comes to lying, I have two responsibilities as a member of the body of Christ. First, I have to tell the truth in my life, no matter how difficult or costly it is. Second, I cannot listen to a lie told by another Christ-follower with whom I have a relationship without holding him accountable for it. If I sit by, listen to his lie, and try to pretend it’s not my problem or explain it away, I am not living the life that Jesus has called me to live. We have to hold each other to the high standard that Jesus has set for us.
We will all inevitably fall short. It’s not a matter of if we will find ourselves “stretching the truth,” but when, and when I fall into that trap, I want friends around me who love me enough to speak the hard truth to me, and confront me with my lie. It’s hard to hear, but it will only make me a better person. And if the people I surround myself with won’t do that for me, if they would look the other way and say nothing, they are no true friends of mine.
So who do you surround yourself with? Would the people in your life speak the truth in love to you? Or, have you only allowed people in your life who make you feel good?
It’s uncomfortable to allow others to see the ugly parts of ourselves and give them permission to speak the hard truth to us when we need to hear it. But we ought to be more uncomfortable with the idea of not having those people in our lives. If we don’t, then the worst lie of all is the one we tell ourselves when we believe that those with whom we share our lives are true friends.