Some time back, I heard an interview with Brian Williams, the news anchor who exaggerated his adventures as an embedded journalist in the Middle East. I don’t know much about the story. I haven’t followed it, so I don’t know the details. But he did lie. He told stories that weren’t true about things that happened to him. And in the interview he gave, he tried to justify his actions by claiming he didn’t mean to mislead anyone.
Seems kind of weird though, to tell a lie yet claim that you didn’t mean to mislead people. But that’s part of the rationalization we all do when we tell a half-true. I mean, it’s not like you’re even lying. You’re just not sharing the whole truth, and you’re only doing it because the whole story is too complicated. Or it’s too painful. Or it will upset too many people.
No, it’s better to just tell half the facts and let others infer what they want, right? It’s not like you’re willfully deceiving anyone. They’re the ones making up their minds about what you’re saying.
There’s something in our brains that tells us this sort of thinking is okay, but one thing I’ve learned about lies and half-truths, both: You can’t stop with just one.
For the Scriptures say,
“If you want to enjoy life
and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies.
Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
against those who do evil.”
Lying is easy, especially when you’re trying to cover up something you’ve done that you don’t want to admit. Telling the truth is hard. Telling the truth requires humility, the willingness to accept the fact that you screwed up.
Let’s face it. We all screw up. And the more we try to be perfect, the more we screw up because we’re depending on our own strength rather than God’s. When you lie, you’re trusting yourself to find the answer for your problems. When you choose to lie, you’re telling God you don’t want His help, and He’ll honor that. If you’re intent on doing things your own way, He’ll let you.
I love the Bible. It’s practical and simple. Want to know the secret to a happy life you can enjoy? Don’t speak evil, don’t lie, and do good. Notice it says to turn away from evil, meaning that you have a choice. When you encounter evil, regardless of what it may be, you have the option to not give into it. You can seek peace. You can do right. You can look for the Lord.
And that also tells me that even if you’ve done evil in the past, if you turn away from it today, God will hear you. It doesn’t say that God watches over people who’ve never done wrong. It says God watched over people who do right. Present tense. Yesterday doesn’t matter.
We live in a culture of blame and semantics. We point fingers like it’s an Olympic sport. It’s never my fault. It’s always someone else’s. And it may feel easier to let a little white lie slip, thinking you’ll get away with it, but you won’t. Lies and half-truths have a way of coming back to bite you just when you least expect it. And when they come back around, they’re much bigger than the little white lie you let slip. And if you’re a Christ-follower? (Yes, Christ-followers lie sometimes too.) Oh, you know better than to choose to go against what God says is right.
And, yes, lying may be easier at first, but give it time. And a few years down the road, you’ll be in consequences so deep you’ll desperately wish for the chance to make a different choice.
Telling the truth today means you have to own up to your failures. It means you have to admit you’ve done wrong. It might even mean you have to disappoint someone you love. But honesty truly is always the best policy, because God can help an honest person. And other people can too.
No, it won’t be fun, but that’s the result when you screw up. There are consequences. Better to face them now rather than ten years down the road when they’ve turned into a tidal wave threatening to pound you into a pulp.
And the good news? God knows. He knows your heart. And He’s never turned anyone who came to Him seeking away.