Summary: God hates a lying tongue. The 9th commandmant is amplified throughout the Bible as God warns against untruthfulness.
Later, an unruly mob attacks Ugolin. Ruffians toss the poor cripple in the air while mocking, “The lovers of thy sister pay a franc apiece.” He is finally rescued by the village priest who takes him to his own home. The next day the cripple walks into the river and drowns himself, whereupon his sister kills herself with a gun. The old priest lamented, “Those children are not suicides. They have been murdered by a society without mercy.”
The day of the funeral arrives. The church fills with people, and the priest begins his sermon:
Christians, when the Lord of life and death shall ask me on the day of judgment, “Pastuer de la Roudaire, where are thy sheep?” I shall not answer him. When the Lord asks me a second time, “Pastuer de la Roudaire, where are thy sheep?” I will yet not answer him. But when the Lord shall ask me a third time, “Pastuer de la Roudaire, where are thy sheep?” I shall hang my head in shame and I will answer him, “They were not sheep, Lord, they were a pack of wolves!” [T. Cecil Myers, Thunder on the Mountain (Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1965), 134].
Our conversations reveal the moral grayness of our time. Lying and gossip are widespread. Slander and vicious criticism is heard everywhere.
Another form of dishonesty is the defensive lie. We seek to protect ourselves and talk our way out of compromising situations through defensive lying. When we do this, we merely increase our guilt, and we have very guilty consciences. Noel Coward, the playwright, once sent a note to twenty of the most prominent men in London. Each note said, “All is discovered. Escape while you can!” All twenty promptly left town!
Couples headed toward divorce are often guilty of defensive rationalizing. Usually they wait too long to seek marriage counseling. A counselor listening to both parties may decide that someone has to be lying. Both can’t be telling the truth. Usually they have not intentionally lied. He (or she) really believes the lies. Each has lied to themselves. They refuse to face reality.
A desert nomad once awoke in the middle of the night. Hungry, he lit a candle and began eating dates from a bowl beside his bed. He took a bite from one and saw a worm in it; so he threw it out of the tent. He bit into a second date, found another worm, and threw it away also. Then, reasoning that he would have nothing to eat if this continued, he blew out the candle and quickly ate the rest of the dates. Many prefer darkness and denial to the light of reality about themselves.
The most common form of lying is the defective lie. This is the lie of carelessness, silence, or half-truth. Few of us will never be called to witness in a court of law. The false witness we must guard against is the general untruthfulness that blackens character, misrepresents motives, and ruins reputations. We establish our reputation for wit by the ability to put down another person. We can do irreparable damage by our silence. A shrug of the shoulders, or a raised eyebrow will often do the trick.