Summary: The world seems to agree that lying is not a good thing, but the believer in Christ has different reasons for that.
Lies, Lying and Liars
October 17, 2004
How many of you have ever received a gift you didn’t like? Maybe it was a really hideous tie. Maybe it was a fruitcake. I’ve heard of families where the same fruitcakes were passed along from member to member for years.
Nobody could bring themselves to eat it. Well, in the interest of helping you handle these situations without having to hurt someone’s feelings, I offer
The top 7 things to say about a gift you don’t like
7. Hey! There’s a gift!
6. This is perfect for wearing around the basement.
5. If the dog buries it, I’ll be furious!
4. I love it - but I fear the jealousy it will inspire.
3. Sadly, tomorrow I enter the Federal Witness Protection Program.
2. To think - I got this gift the same year I vowed to give all my gifts to charity.
And the Number One Thing to say about a gift you don’t like:
1. "I really don’t deserve this."
We’re all faced with such situations...and we can debate on what’s appropriate to say in protecting someone’s feelings in given situations. I don’t want to get bogged down this morning in these kinds of questions, these special cases, as much as I want to look at the bigger picture of what scripture has to say about Lies, Lying and Liars.
Maybe you agree with the little boy who was asked what a lie was and replied,
"A lie is an abomination to the Lord, but a very present help in time of trouble!"
But the truth is that there is a cost to lying. Those who lie, sometimes even once in a given situation, find it hard to win their way back to being trusted again.
I find it very interesting that in our culture of lying, which we’ll examine in depth this morning, it’s still one of the worse things you can say of someone...He or she is a liar.
Almost everybody does it, but no one wants to be labeled a liar. A look at secular bookshelves tells you that.
On the left these books include Al Franken’s Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. On the right of the political spectrum, you have Ann Coulter’s Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right.
If there’s anything in scripture that’s absolutely clear, even if only by the sheer force of the number of times it’s prohibited, or spoken about negatively, it would be lying.
Leviticus 19:11 " ’Do not lie. " ’Do not deceive one another”
As people who follow the One who said, I am the Truth, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the hallmark of our character, a mark of our integrity, should be that we are truth-tellers.
It’s interesting that, the admonition to tell the truth, and the corresponding injunction against lying, is something that is spoken of clearly in almost every major world religion.
It’s a standard on which most of the world seems to agree, even if, as we’ll see, that agreement doesn’t seem to affect behavior as it should.
Taoism says: Do not assert with your mouth what your heart denies.
Buddhism say: “Lying is the origin of all evils; it leads to rebirth in the miserable planes of existence, to breach of the pure precepts, and to corruption of the body.”
Oooh. Rebirth in the miserable planes of existence can’t be good.
Hinduism says: All things are determined by speech; speech is their root, and from speech they proceed. Therefore he who is dishonest with respect to speech is dishonest in everything.
Islam says “There are three characteristics of a hypocrite: when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he acts treacherously; and when he is trusted, he betrays.
Confucius says, "I do not see what use a man can be put to, whose word cannot be trusted.”
I believe the world agrees that lying is not a good thing for very practical reasons. Have you ever thought about what the world would be like if there wasn’t at least a general agreement that we should relate to one another on some level of truthfulness?
Nietzsche said: What upsets me is not that you lied to me, but that from now on, I can no longer believe you.
An author named Sissela Bok wrote a book called “Lying : Moral Choice in Public and Private Life.” She thought through this question:
“In such a world, you could never trust anything you were told or anything you read. You would have to find out everything for yourself, first-hand. You would have to invest enormous amounts of your time to find out the simplest matters. In fact, you probably couldn’t even find out the simplest matters: in a world without trust, you could never acquire the education you need to find out anything for yourself, since such an education depends upon your taking the word of what you read in your lesson books. A moment’s reflection of this sort, makes it crystal clear that you benefit enormously by living in a world in which a great deal of trust exists – a world in which the practice of truth-telling is widespread. All the important things you want to do in life are made possible by widespread trust.”