Summary: Our integrity demands that we have to be careful about making and keeping promises.
“How to Increase in Your Integrity” James 5:12 (03.02.2003)
Have you ever lied? For those of you who might not be quite so sure, let me remind you of Miriam-Webster’s definition of a lie. To lie is either “to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive”; or “to create a false or misleading impression.”
I don’t know about you, but I would have been a lot more comfortable with this definition if the second part of it wasn’t there! It’s bad enough to consider those times when we have said something that wasn’t true, but to then have to think about those times when we created a misleading impression by perhaps, not saying anything, or by being intentionally vague... That adds to the percentages doesn’t it?
If there ever was a sin for which the phrase, “everybody does it” was true, it has to be the sin of lying. John MacArthur, the preacher with Grace Community Church in California, has this to say about the prevalence and popularity of lying in our society today. He said, “Our society is built on a framework of lies, leading one to wonder whether our social structure would survive if everyone were forced to speak the truth for even one day.”
Interestingly enough, a few years ago Jim Carry stared in a movie that considered this very idea. In the movie “Liar, Liar”, Jim Carry plays a lawyer who is particularly good at stretching the truth. After promising, and then breaking his promise, to show up at his five-year-old son’s birthday party, the son wishes that his dad would be able to only say the truth for one day. The promise comes true and Jim’s character wakes up not being able to tell even the smallest of lies. Needless to say, this turns his world upside down—both personally and professionally. Let’s look at a clip from the movie. Jim’s character has just found out that it was his son’s wish that was behind his inability to lie. [SHOW CLIP]
Carry’s character says, “No one can survive in the adult world if they have to stick to the truth.” Do you think that’s true? Do you think that is a typical attitude in our world today? You bet it is! Last year I had several conversations with a man who was lonely and afraid. He felt like his life was cursed and he began to see that God might be the answer to his problems. I had a few Bible studies with him and shared the fact that Jesus loved Him. He was interested, but ultimately, what kept him from making any firm commitment to Christ was the fact that he believe he couldn’t do his job if he had to be honest. He felt like he couldn’t compete with everyone else if he didn’t lie. To his credit he knew that a serious commitment to Christ meant that his life would change, but he wasn’t willing to entrust that change to God. For many people lying is a way of life. It is a necessary skill. But the question is why do people feel the need to lie?
1. Self-Protection—first of all, people lie because they’re afraid. We’re motivated by fear and we want to protect ourselves. We’re afraid that we’re going to get in trouble. Or that we’ll be rejected. Or that we’ll be in the middle of a confrontation. Or we will hurt someone’s feelings. Or we’ll lose our job. We lie because we’re afraid.
2. Self-Centeredness—secondly, people lie because they benefit from their lies. They lie because they are selfish or self-centered. We might get recognition, or a promotion, or a job, or a date, or a credit card, or sympathy. How many people lie on their income tax for that very reason? How many people call in sick when we really aren’t? How many people willingly lie for their employer as long as it benefits them as well?
3. Self-Importance—thirdly, people lie because of their pride. Somehow the lies of this kind feed our self-importance. Either we lie to save face, or to cover our mistakes, or to be liked, or to appear more important, or more successful than we really are.
We have all kinds of reason to lie. We may lie because of fear or selfishness, or pride, but the truth is, when it comes right down to it, we lie because it is the easiest thing to do. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but the wrong thing is always seems to be the easiest thing. Satan is always tempting us with the easy way. The way of least resistance is usually a slippery slop to sin. Eventually our lies will catch up with us and our integrity will suffer. C. S. Lewis once said, “A little lie is like a little pregnancy it doesn’t take long before everyone knows.”