Summary: God hates a lying tongue. The 9th commandmant is amplified throughout the Bible as God warns against untruthfulness.

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.

Too much of our conversation is ugly gossip. One woman said, “I wouldn’t say anything about her but something good, and brother, is this good!” Another said, “There’s something I must tell you before I find out it isn’t true!” Too often a conversation begins, “Did you hear about…?”

God cannot be excluded from little compartments of our life. Truth is crucial in every situation. We try to put a pretty face on dishonesty by calling it a “white lie.” Lillian Carter, President Jimmy Carter’s mother, was once asked about the President’s truthfulness. The aggressive reporter said, “Your son, has been traveling the country, telling people not to vote for him if he ever lies to them. Can you, knowing a son as only a mother can, honestly say he’s never lied?”

“Well, perhaps a little white lie now and then,” the irascible elderly lady said.

“And what,” retorted the reporter, “is the difference between a white lie and any other? Define white lie for me.”

“I’m not sure I can define it,” Miss Lillian said sweetly, “but I can give you an example. Do you remember when you came in the door a few minutes ago and I told you how good you looked and how glad I was to see you?”

As much as I may like Miss Lillian’s retort, the white lie is dangerous. Lewis Smedes says:

The white lie as a way of life gradually creates cynicism in both liar and deceived. Gradually nobody trusts the other to tell the truth. When we have told ‘white lies’ often enough we assume that others do the same to us. The game of life, we assume, calls for both people in a conversation to be gentle liars. But does it stop there? Once you assume that I lie in polite circles, can you trust me in business or politics …? In the long run, truthfulness in social intercourse, occasionally painful as it may be, is better than the evils that heap up from our perpetual festival of the ‘white lie {Lewis B. Smedes, Mere Morality (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1983), 227].

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