I think, at least to some extent, that we all value honesty. In fact, I would venture to say that even compulsive liars value honesty. That is to say we all value honesty in those who interact with us. We want others to tell us the truth.
And a large percent of us value honesty on our own part when we interact with others. We recognize that love, integrity, and trust are all built upon a well-laid foundation of honesty. But if I were a betting man I’d stake the farm on it that even the most honest among us have situations in which they circumvent the truth.
Perhaps we tell “little white lies” to spare another’s feelings. Sometimes we lie to avoid a long, drawn-out argument. We may even lie to placate someone who is angry with us for some reason.
Is it okay to lie sometimes?
Is failing to tell the whole truth the same as lying?
What about if no one gets hurt? Is that lie okay?
If we promise to do something, even if we fully intended to do it, and fail to get it done, is that a lie?
Is there a line in the sand that delineates a “bad lie” from a good one?
Does it matter to whom we lie? Are there some lies that are okay because of the person to whom we’re lying?
The standard in most societies would allow for some lying. In fact, it seems that we reward lying with time in public office. We reward it with promotions at the expense of those about whom we have lied. We reward it with relationships that never would have begun if the truth had been known.
We lie in church when we tell someone we’ll pray for them, knowing full well that we won’t. We excuse ourselves from helping others by telling them that we “just don’t feel led.” Churches and movements have been founded upon lies, and destroyed by lies.
People have committed crimes and committed suicide all because of lies.
Of course, people also lie to God. No one on earth will ever know if we lie to God. It’s not like lying to a person, right? There aren’t any consequences for being dishonest or disingenuous with Him, are there? We can always just ask for forgiveness, can’t we?
And despite the fact that lying to God can have eternal consequences, I believe that it may be worse, yet, to lie to ourselves. The fact is that we rarely give it a second thought when we do so. It started with one little lie so long ago that you can’t even remember it. Maybe it was as simple as “I deserve the toy the other child has more than he does.” And it really doesn’t much matter what the lie was. It was like pouring water down a slippery slope. Over time your conscience stops believing anything you say. “I’ll start that diet tomorrow.” “I’m going to put that gym membership to use… tomorrow.” “I’m going to read my Bible every day.”
You see, if we can’t even tell ourselves the truth, how can we possibly be honest with others? How can we make commitments and keep them?
We have to rewire our brains. We have to start with ourselves, because until we have rebuilt the trust that we once had between our hearts and our brains, we will never be able to truly value the truth.
Jesus said, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6, ESV). If we continue to live in the darkness of dishonesty–with ourselves, with others, and with God–we will never experience the freedom that we are promised in the scriptures. “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32, ESV).
On this Mindful Monday, I encourage you to take a good, hard look at yourself. Identify areas where you might be lying to yourself, and make a change. Only once you are honest with yourself can you be honest with God and with others.
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