Is there ever a good time to lie? If you ever want to spark an interesting conversation, this is the question to ask. If I’m honest with you, it’s a question I struggle with and if you’re honest, I think its something you struggle with too.
I always thought the 10 commandments had a “Do not lie” somewhere in there and it does BUT it only says something about not bearing false witness against your neighbor. In other words, “Don’t lie about something you witnessed your neighbor doing or not doing”. Kind of narrowing the context in which you must not lie. But then, lying is listed as one of the six things God HATES in Proverbs 6:16-18. If you lie, you are putting yourself in opposition to God. Ouch.
So I struggle. I struggle because there are some times where its really easy to be a truth teller. There are other times where its not that difficult to recognize the temptation to lie and resist it. But then there are the the times…
- when my wife has come through a grueling day of looking after the kids, doing laundry, cleaning the house AND has supper ready when I come home. It tastes awful. She asks me, “Do you like it?” I’m tempted to say, “Delicious”
- Someone asks me how I’m doing and although I feel cruddy and overextended I’m tempted to say “I’m fine”
- Or how about all the “polite” things we’ve been trained to say, things like “I’ll/We’ll miss you” when in reality we can’t wait for them to go; or “Sorry, I’m busy right now” when in reality you’ve got all the time in the world but just don’t want that person to know because you don’t want to help that person; or “I’m looking forward to meeting you” when the truth is you couldn’t care less if you meet them or not.
- What about answering the question, “so what’s new?”, “uhh, nothing”
- Oh and what about the message we leave on our answering machines, “Sorry I missed your call…” Really?
Are there any other lies that you think could be added to that list? If you were to count how many times you succumb to the temptation of one of these situations, how many times a day would you say you lie? I’m afraid to count.
But then, acknowledging this is a struggle helps me realize that it’s something that matters to me. It matters to me that I strive for honesty. It matters to me, that I recognize the temptation to be less than honest. It matters to me, that there are times where it would almost seem justifiable to tell one. little. white. lie.
It matters to me, because God matters to me.
And honesty matters to Him.
That’s why I’m grateful for His grace.
Darren, thanks for sharing. I think we all struggle in this area.
And sometimes we feel compelled to state the truth in a manner that is not conducive to peace (I have been guilty of this), forgetting that we are encouraged to "speak the truth in love".
Made me laugh, Darren! Although I wonder about telling a lie when it is a kindness to the other person, as in “Yes that dinner tasted good” and “Sure I don’t mind if you have another night out with your friend”. Giving them what they want without hurting anyone. Is there a place for “white lies”? If we were all brutally honest with each other, and said what was really on our minds, would there be any hope for good relations with people? Is stretching the truth sometimes an expression of social grace? Food for thought.
Thanks John for commenting! Yes, what you said point towards exactly why its an ongoing struggle and an interesting topic to discuss sometimes. For instance, was Rahab’s lie (Joshua 2:4) justified? Let’s qualify that a bit, would it be justified by God?