“Honesty may not always be the best policy, as a policy, but dishonesty is always a miserable policy, even when it succeeds.” Iain Duguid
You just can’t make this stuff up. In a recent debate between New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his opponent, actress Cynthia Nixon, it became very heated as they battled for the Democratic primary nomination in the gubernatorial election. In one more contentious moments Cuomo demanded Nixon stop interrupting him, whereupon she said she would do so if he stopped lying. “Excuse me, can you stop interrupting?” Cuomo exclaimed. To which Nixon retorted, “Can you stop lying?” “Yeah, as soon as you do,” Cuomo responded as laughter erupted from the audience.
Are you like me? When I hear promises or see accusations about a political opponent, I’m very skeptical. Please don’t get me wrong. There are some elected officials with integrity and a true commitment to honesty. It’s just that they seem to be very rare. Usually, I find them more often on the local level, rather than the national one.
Much of it, I’m sure, is because I’m an adult child of an addict, but I have very little tolerance for lying. We survivors of an addicted parent were lied to so much in our formative years that it’s left a deep scar.
Then, our culture has lost any value for honesty or truth. We’ve developed a litany of terms to soften lying: White lies. Fibs. Exaggerations. Ideology trumps truth. Yet, they’re still lies. In a court of law, it’s called perjury. They are falsehoods, fabrications and deceptions.
As much as try, as much as we detest it – all of us have been guilty of lying. Lying is probably the most frequently committed sin. While we may put “degrees” on lying, it’s still a lie. We rationalize that “a little white lie” to save someone’s feelings isn’t that bad. After all, we’re just trying to make them feel good, right?
Parents lie to children, thinking little of it, “No, this doesn’t have onions in it.” We lie to cover failure, “I’d have been here on time but the traffic was terrible.” As innocent as a lie may seem, with a holy God, there are no degrees of lying. ALL lies are sinful and violate His standard of truth.
What many don’t realize is that lying is Satan’s native language. You and I are never more like the devil than when we lie. All that he does is lie. That should cause you to gasp! I know it does me. In John 8:44, Jesus is talking about Satan and states, “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
The first time Satan speaks in the Bible, he lies to Eve. When we lie, we intentionally deceive. There’s usually a conscious decision made each time we do it. Because God is truth, when we lie, we’re in direct opposition to His will. Just as it cost our first parents so much, lying has a high price tag.
Lying destroys relationships. After you’ve been lied to, you know how difficult it can be to trust that person again. You can’t help but wonder why a friend or family member would treat you so poorly. When you lie, even if you think others will never find out, you’ll create a chasm of hurt in your relationship. If the other person finds out about your lie, as they frequently do, it’s very difficult to regain trust. No one wants a relationship based on lies. Truth and trust are foundational to healthy relationships.
Lying destroys YOU. It throws you into a vicious cycle that’s extremely difficult to break free of. Once you lie, often you’ll lie again to cover up the first lie. Then, you feel worse. Lies are like weeds. They grow, rarely standing alone. If you don’t kill the first lie, it mutates, reproducing and becoming hard to stop. Lying is addictive. You so habitually lie, you have difficulty knowing what’s actually true as you begin to lie to yourself.
Liars become trapped in a cycle of lying controlled by fear. They’re anxious of not only being found out as a liar, but also being exposed and having the truth uncovered about themselves. And it always comes with a high price. Lying destroys lives. Relationships crumble. Others refuse to trust you. Ultimately, the one most hurt by lying is you.
Tragically, because lying is socially acceptable and even encouraged, it’s only through God’s grace, the God of truth, that we can be consistently honest. How can we be people of honesty and integrity?
Honesty must become a godly discipline, a spiritual habit. Each morning I pray that the Lord will give me wisdom for that day. Wisdom always includes honesty. As God gives me wisdom, I speak (and post) the truth.
When you lie, deal with it immediately. It’s embarrassing, yet a noxious weed is easier to kill while it’s small. More than once, I’ve had to call up a friend and apologize that I’d exaggerated or not been completely forthright. Healthy shame helps me in the future be more cautious with my words.
Be committed to speaking the truth in love. That’s the biblical command and control we find in Ephesians 4:15. Friends sometimes must say the tough things. Some speak the truth, yet wield it like a baseball bat. Others speak with love, yet love void of truth is worthless sentimentality. Like the Lord Jesus, we must commit to speaking both truth and love.
Please know that honesty will probably cost you. It certainly cost professional golfer, Brian Davis…perhaps up to $2 million. In 2010 at the Verizon Heritage Classic, Davis thought that he’d inadvertently ticked a reed in his backswing, so he called over rules officials to review the video. He had. It cost him the Masters and countless endorsement bonuses.
You can’t be a Christian and be a liar (Revelation 21:8). Jesus said, “I am the Truth.” To follow Him, we must live by His standard of truth telling.
In our culture tolerance is the norm. “Truth” is subjective. It’s purported that there are no absolutes. Being sincere is what really matters.
That’s all a lie. As the people of the God of absolute truth, we know truth is the norm. There is a right and there is a wrong. There are absolutes. One can be sincere and sincerely wrong. Truth is always truth, always has been and always will be. Truth never changes. As Christ-followers, we must commit to being people of truth, no matter what!
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