Saturday, September 30, 2006

Liar Liar, pants on fire!

Ephesians 4:25 “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.”

Why do so many Christians lie? I guess the better question might be, why do so many Christians justify lying? Besides the obvious reason: sin. Why blog about this today? Well, it’s on my mind so, here goes. If you are somebody who actually cares about reading my blog today I encourage you to get a snickers bar and a coffee to last you through this one. You'll need it!

My sister is getting married in a few weeks. Yesterday I was talking to her about everything from her gown, to her guest list. When going over the guest list we discussed that someone very important to us is not coming. The gave a whole bunch of reasons…timing not good…money, etc. but the real fact is, none of that is true. The reason they are not coming is that there will be certain people at the wedding they are not comfortable with. They would rather not attend because those people will be there. But they did not want to say that. So they made up a bunch of excuses, which hurt my sister worse than if they would have just stated the truth. It’s hard because this is coming from a person who has been saved for many years. And I understand why she is hurt.

I can’t think of anything more fundamental that we Christians need to focus on than being honest. I mean, even the world says, “honesty is the best policy.” Then why don’t so many veteran Christians make a point to be honest? I’m not talking about those who are new, still learning the ropes of Christianity – I’m speaking of those who have been in this thing for a while! I believe most Christians do think there are such a thing as “little white lies” and they don’t think they are any big deal, especially if they feel they had a “reason” to lie. I will give a few examples here that stand out in my mind - all names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Case one. Years ago in a church we pastored, we sensed a family was unhappy with the church. Their attendance started flagging. But they were not honest about it. They told untruths about the issue at every turn, although these folks had been saved and even active in church ministry for quite some time. One week I gave the wife a call and asked how things were going and asked where they were the previous Sunday. She told me their little boy, Bart, was sick. I got a strange feeling right there in my spirit that Bart was not sick, but didn’t argue the point. The next Sunday morning came and they were in church. The moment they walked through the doors, I threw my arms around little Bart and said, “Bart!!! It’s so good to see you! Are you feeling okay? I’m so sorry you were sick! I missed you!” He looked at me like I was a martian from outer space and said, “Pastor Deanna, I wasn’t sick. What are you talking about?” To which his Mom looked like she had just swallowed a cat.

Case two. A woman who was in my previous women’s ministries group, Mary, began to get critical of the women’s ministry. She had been involved previously in various areas of leadership, but was influenced negatively by someone and began to have a terrible attitude. When some ladies approached her about helping at our upcoming Princess Luncheon outreach which was our most important of the year, she said, “I can’t come that day or help. I have a yard sale at the house.” Again, I knew in my spirit that wasn’t true. She was no longer supportive of the ministry and this was the reason she would not be there, however, I left it at that. Saturday was the outreach. Sunday morning came and I approached Mary’s next door neighbor who also attended the church, and I said, “How did Mary’s yard sale go yesterday? Did she sell a lot?” The neighbor said, “What are you talking about? Mary hasn’t had a yard sale in years!”

Case three. Years ago, my husband once had a staff member tell him that they were so incredibly happy in ministry with us, they thought they would be with us forever. They said, “I’m so committed to you, Pastor. I’m with you for the long haul. I’ve got your heart.” Not even a month later, they resigned. They gave some mumbo jumbo about God speaking to them about finding out who they really were. They felt they needed to leave and “find themselves.” Okay, that sounded like something off of Oprah or Dr. Phil. No, actually even those two wouldn’t believe that bunk. But anyway, the bottom line was, the decision had nothing to do with the staff member. I could have saved him all the trouble of making this trip to find out who he was. I would have been glad to tell him, “You are a hen-pecked man.” You see, his wife made the entire decision for him. But he didn’t want to come into the office and tell my husband, “My wife just made me resign.”

Case four. Every year we ministers in the A/G fill out and sign a credential renewal form in which we are asked if we still believe and proclaim certain doctrinal truths. We are also asked if we have tithed the full amount the previous year. (Note – tithing doesn’t mean giving a regular offering, it means 10% of your income. While the average person may not know this, I assure you, ministers do have this knowledge.) I have no problem filling mine out and signing it. I am definitely 100% in agreement with the doctrines of the A/G, I proclaim them from the pulpit, and I definitely tithe. But I know others who don’t. They fill the thing out, sign it and do not disclose things they have issue with that they discuss secretly among themselves but do not admit to the leadership they are accountable to. Why do they do it? To keep a job. To remain in the same ministerial network they have been in for years. And probably for many other reasons I can’t even think of, being that I’ve never been in this situation. But the fact remains, it’s wrong. They should do the honorable thing, make it right, come into agreement, or turn in their license.

What’s my point of all of this? Well, we find Christians lying to each other about practically anything large or small. It could be something as simple as whether a friend looks good in a dress or not, or who you went to the movies with. The funny thing is, many things people lie about are so stupid…it’s not really a big deal, so why even feel you have to lie about it? I know, some of you are thinking, “this is an issue for the deliverance ministry…” and perhaps you are right.

Well, I’ve taken my own informal poll among some Christian friends I really respect and they tell me they think one reason so many Christians do these type of things is because they are uncomfortable…they are afraid to state the truth. They are scared to be open about how they really feel. They are afraid of what people think. They don’t want to face your response when they tell you the truth. In some cases it would affect their income if they told the truth. They don’t know how to come clean with their issues, large or small. They are not good communicators, etc. etc. But no matter how many of these excuses I hear, I never find any of them in the Bible. They are just that – fleshly excuses. They don’t have any justification in the Bible.

So, what are you saying, Deanna…that you never lie? No. Of course I’ve told a lie before, several of them in fact! We all have. (We’d be lying to say we haven’t!) But what I am telling you is that God has put a fire and a passion inside me since becoming a sold out Christian, that I should endeavor to always be truthful – even when it hurts. Gently truthful as much as possible, lovingly truthful, nevertheless, truthful. And when I am not – to go to the person I lied to, even if it’s a small thing – to apologize, to ask for forgiveness. Most of all to ask the Lord to forgive me. If we aren’t honest…if people can’t trust our word, just what can they trust? Absolutely nothing about us, that’s the answer.

It’s just like when we had a president in office who was getting busy with someone besides his wife in his office. I’m sure you all remember that stern finger wagging at the screen at all of us, proclaiming strongly, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman…” How ridiculous it seems now in light of the fact that we know the truth. If we can’t trust a president to tell the truth about that – we really can’t trust any other word that comes out of his mouth. Some say, “well, it was none of people’s business!” Perhaps they are right, but he could have just said, “I have no comment on this matter.” If you don’t want to answer a question, you always have that option. No one “HAS” to lie. They DECIDE to lie.

I will agree, it is sometimes extremely hard not to lie. I myself am faced on a daily basis with decisions as to whether I am going to lie or be truthful. I believe when we are faced with such, we either need to not comment at all, or think of something we can say that is neutral, yet truthful. To illustrate…

Someone approaches me wearing an absolutely hideous dress. They say, “how do you like my new dress?” I don’t like it, but I don’t want to hurt their feelings, so I say, “Wow. That is perhaps one of the most unique things I have ever seen.” Or… “Thank God, every day is another day to shop!” Or, “Where in the world did you ever find that?” If they press me on the issue, I just say something like this, “Well, to be perfectly honest, it’s not my favorite. It doesn’t accent your most beautiful features. But I sure do love the blue one you wore last week!”

Someone approaches me after a service in which they ministered in music and it sounded terrible. They say, “Pastor Deanna, did you like my song?” Not wanting to hurt their feelings, but be truthful yet encouraging I say, “Wow!!! You look fantastic!!!” (provided they really do, if not…I go to something else such as…) “The bible does say to make a joyful noise!” (emphasis on the word “noise”) Or, “Wowweee! I think those are some of the highest notes I’ve ever heard…”

There are things I’m asked all the time that would be very easy to lie about and for quite some time I might even get away with it. But the Bible says that eventually my sins would find me out. When someone asks me something and it is a matter that I do not wish to comment on openly, I simply say with a very gently, “I do not feel I can answer that question right now.” No one to this point has ever held a gun to my head and forced me to answer. They may not be happy about it. But at least I lay my head down on the pillow at night and know I was truthful. I have even said before, “I am uncomfortable with your question,” if I feel people are asking what I feel is none of their business.

I’m not perfect and I struggle with this issue as anyone else does. Sometimes I am put in very uncomfortable situations. Oh how easy it is just to make up something real quick so as to not have to face the music. But I’m simply saying, let’s make every effort to completely live an honest life before the Lord and before others. Our witness depends on it. It disheartens me when I encounter long term believers who tell me a lie about something. I wrestle with ever being able to believe anything they say anymore even if it started with something as stupid as a yard sale. I know you must feel the same way. There are some people that if they tell me the sun is shining, I get my umbrella out. Surely you have had these kind of things happen to you. Honest is not only the best policy – it’s THE WORD. It takes years to build trust back with people after they have lied to you, even if it’s about dumb things.

When we were little kids, we would catch a friend in a lie, or perhaps our little brother or sister and we would yell, “Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!” Little did we know, we were shouting the Word of God. Prophetic words out of the mouths of babes…

Revelation 21:8 “…and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Proverbs 12: 22 The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.


God takes lying really seriously. My question is…when does it start? Is there such a thing as a small lie? A big lie? How many lies do we have to tell without repenting in order to face eternal damnation? I have to be honest with you, I do not want to find out. I want to stay as far away from the danger as possible. I believe a lie is a lie, is a lie. The Bible says Satan is the father of lies. Do you want even one shred of dishonesty in your life? Would you purchase a bottle of water to drink if it said, “98% pure spring water – 2% raw sewage”?

I believe God is calling His people to radical honesty. Do I believe lying can be forgiven by God? Of course, it’s like any other sin. I believe we should ask forgiveness for it as soon as possible, and make things right with both God and man. It’s important that we live clean lives. My husband always talks about the value of being able to lay your head down on the pillow and sleep peacefully at night, knowing you are living an honest life. If you live an honest life, you don’t have to keep up with what you’ve said, or who you’ve said it to, or what you’ve done – you’re just living free, and it feels great. Try it!

Honestly…I’m really hungry right now, so I’m going to get off of here and eat a piece of
chocolate. Honest to God…I have only eaten 6 weight watcher points today, so I can afford it.

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