I was watching an interview the other day on YouTube that I found quite interesting. The man being interviewed was a Dr. of Clinical Psychology and Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto. The piece was almost over when the interviewer asked him what he struggled with the most. He looked down for a few seconds then raising his head slowly he said, “To tell the truth or, at least, to not lie.” I thought that this was an interesting observation concerning oneself. That led me to wonder what he meant by it because I was pretty sure he wasn’t saying that he was struggling with being a perpetual liar. I know there are individuals who are pathological liars however I did not feel this was what he was implying. I really felt like his statement to ‘tell the truth or, at least, to not lie’ was about a journey he was on and the sincerity I saw in his mannerisms as he made his statement caused me to want to really understand what he was meaning by it.
The more I studied the more I came to understand that what he was saying was quite profound and a journey that each one of us is on. There are two kinds of people, those who know they are on a journey and those who act as if they are not. As a Christian I need to acknowledge that to God telling the truth is a really big thing. In fact it is right up there with the mandate we have to love. And if we are told to love even those who do us wrong, (Matthew 5:43-48) then telling the truth means we cannot stretch the truth to fit our perception of what that truth should be.
Jesus wasn’t afraid to call Satan what he is: a liar and the father of lies. Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. 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.” (John 8:44). The first time that mankind had to make a choice between God’s truth and the devil’s lie, they chose the devil’s lie. When Adam and Eve rejected God’s truth and chose the devil’s lie that was the moment that all the troubles plaguing the world began. Stretching the truth to fit a situation is the sin natures desire to side with the devil’s lie instead of God’s truth.
For most of us our trouble comes not from our saying a blatant lie but in our flirting around with the truth. The realization that there are degrees in which we stray from the truth is something we each need to be wary of. An untruth, however well-meant, can produce unintended consequences. Most of us are not as truthful as we might think. We subconsciously stretch the truth to self-justify our actions so we can live with ourselves. The problem is that over time compromising the truth leads to a callous approach of taking facts and bending them to fit our view of reality or to fit our inner-ideal.
We can get really good at spinning little ‘white lies’ in fact we can get so good at it that it becomes second nature to us and our speech and actions become so filled with these white lies that they become ‘life-lies’. A white lie is defined as being a harmless or trivial lie, especially told to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Sounds almost honorable but I wonder just who are we really protecting? Is to avoid speaking the truth just a cop-out to get ourselves out of a difficult situation? If pride comes before the fall then thinking that telling a lie is really the best course of action is the height of being prideful. We distort reality setting ourselves up as satan did in the garden proclaiming our being ‘god-like’ when we do this.
Most of us have learned that one lie leads to another, then to another, continuing on till it defines who we have become. A lie has the same effect as a tiny drop of sewage would have when put in a bottle of pristine water. Even the biggest lies are a composition of smaller lies. When you follow the big lie back to its source you will find the little lie that started it all. A white-lie becomes Satan’s undiluted power to deceive and when we enter into that lie we begin to see truth as a lie and the lie as the truth.
To understand the motives I have behind my words perhaps I need to divide myself into two parts. One that speaks and the other part that rightly discerns what I am saying. I need to watch carefully what words I choose and the intent those words will have on the person I am speaking with. To walk hand in hand with the Holy Spirit and be a co-laborer with Christ should be the intent of every Christian. To be careless about the words we use can easily lead us into being an unwilling co-laborer with the father of lies. I need to listen intently, choose my words carefully and not offer anything that is not ‘true’ or at least, not a ‘lie’.
Where does stretching the truth lead us? If we have a lifestyle of flippantly speaking loosely with the truth it really shows us just what an arrogant individual we have become because down deep inside we see ourselves as someone who believes they are superior to everyone else. How much better it would be if we focused on being truthful in speech and action? Taking the time to weigh our words carefully and in love speak what God has put on our hearts so that we both can benefit from being involved in a healthy conversation. If we do not do this we hold the person back from being who God intended them to be and we hinder ourselves from entering the place God has destined for us to enter into. Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in your sight, O Lord,”
If we are not careful with the truth it will not be long till our lives begin to mirror our Facebook page where everything we do or say hinges on how many likes or dislikes we have accumulated. If we are dogmatic, people may think we are intolerant. If our goal is to be seen as virtuous then we have to be careful or everything we do or say can become self-promoting. If you have never met the person nor talked to them in years I question whether you really have 3,000 ‘friends’ on Facebook. People want to meet an authentic person, someone who isn’t looking past them to see if there is a better conversation in the room but someone who genuinely cares about them. One who listens and can help them make sense of their lives. And they don’t mind you using more than 140 characters to do so.
What is truth? Truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God. Even more to the point: Truth is the self-expression of God. Truth defines good and evil, right and wrong, beauty and ugliness, even honor and dishonor cannot be defined apart from God. God embodies the very definition of truth and without God there is no truth or understanding. 2 Timothy 2:15, says “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
If our heart is to be as one who ‘tells the truth, or at least, to not lie’ then we need to put in place a pattern of being conscious that God is with us in every situation we find ourselves in. Luke 6:45 says, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
We pray that the Holy Spirit will fill us afresh with His unfathomable love and that we will live and abide in His truth as our hearts are transformed and our character is molded by Him. Most of all may we be known as those who love and are a safe place for others because we live and speak in truth.