In the early 1960s, I was serving in a small, gracious church in West Tennessee when we learned our first child was on the way. Though we were elated by this news, it presented a significant financial problem. Fresh out of seminary, I still had college and seminary debts. My church salary was small, and I had no insurance. Determined to meet this new challenge, I took a summer job as an ironworker, a rod buster.
On this job, I had a coworker, George. He was constantly jabbering about something. Worse, George had a problem with the truth. George lied a lot. Sometimes he reported incidents I knew were not true. “George,” I would say, “I was there; that did not happen.” He would smile and start another tale. I have met a few others who, like George, have trouble telling the truth.
The June 2017 National Geographic included an article about lying: “Why We Lie.” The article listed 11 reasons why people lie: cover up, avoidance, unknown, pathological, malicious, social/polite, altruistic, humor, self-impression, personal, and economic advantage. Their conclusion: “Honesty may be the best policy, but deception and dishonesty are part of being human.”
Unfortunately, their conclusion is all too true. The problem is compounded when liars become our heroes, or worse our leaders. The German populace allowed Hitler to lead them astray. One can only wonder why. They had to know the truth. Was it fear or intimidation or greed Truth be hanged; they believed the big lie, and the world went to war. Millions died.
It is said there are two people to whom you must not lie — your attorney and your doctor. I would like to add a third. You must not lie to God. When you think about it, it is useless to lie to God. You can lie to your attorney or your doctor, and they will not know; but when you lie to God, he knows.
You may pray, “God, I really wanted to do this, but…” Then, you make some excuse. Truth to tell, you didn’t really want to, and the excuse was just a convenience. When you lie to God, you are trying to fool yourself. Given the fact that God is ever forgiving, why can’t we admit our wrongdoing to him? Confession, “fessing up,” is the first step in course correction.
When we lie, we tell things as we want them to be or wish they were. When we tell the truth, we can face shortcomings and overcome them. Jesus said it this way, ”When you know the truth, it sets you free.”
Wade Paris writes a weekly syndicated column, “The Shepherd Calls.”