Summary: This passage uses Abraham’s deception as a chance to look at why we fudge the truth so often and what the consequences of our lies are.
- Lies are a common part of our everyday lives. In fact, some of us believe that we can’t function in society without telling our share of “little white lies.”
- Abraham here demonstrates aptly for us both the reasons we lie and the consequences of our untruths.
WHY WE LIE:
1. We get stuck in a tight spot.
- v. 11 - “surely the fear of God is not in this place”
- Abraham was in a difficult situation, so he presumed that the easiest way to deal with it was his little half-truth story.
- In our lives, we face the anger of our boss and, in that moment, a little lie seems like a good option because it’s an easy out. Our spouse is complaining about something we didn’t do even though we promised and a little fabrication makes the argument vanish. We find ourselves in messy situations and sometimes a little lie seems to be our ticket out.
2.We presume that the truth will bring a terrible response.
- v. 11 - “they will kill me on account of my wife”
- Abraham lied about Sarah because he was afraid if he told the truth that they would kill him because she was a beautiful woman.
- We presume that if we speak the truth that the wrath of other people will fall upon us.
3. They don’t need to know everything.
- v. 12.
- Abraham argues that he wasn’t really lying; he just didn’t share all the relevant facts.
- We tell ourselves, “It’s not like I’m really lying. I’m just carefully arranging the facts.” We leave off important facts and arrange what we say to color the situation in our favor. It’ll just make everything easier, right?
4. Our lies may not bite us the first time.
- v. 13.
- This was not the first time that Abraham and Sarah had tried this story. Apparently they used it regularly as they traveled. Obviously this deception had proven helpful in other situations.
- Sometimes we lie more and more because we get away with it a few times.
- In fact, Abraham had actually been caught in this lie before (Genesis 12:14-20), but he had apparently forgotten the pain of that situation and had started using this story again.
FACING THE CONSEQUENCES:
- Let’s acknowledge a truth that doesn’t sound right coming out of a preacher’s mouth: “Sometimes lies do make life easier.” Is it just easier to lie sometimes? Yes. But what we have to keep in mind is this: Even though it’s easier in the short-term, it is more costly in the long-term. (Not to mention being morally wrong.)
- Sometimes the costs show up as our little lie locks us into a position that then snowballs and we’re helpless to watch what was a small problem become bigger and bigger. (Abraham sees that here.) Sometimes we solve one problem with our lie, only to see our lie create a different fire that we have to put out. (Abraham sees that here too.) Those, though, are problems that usually raise their heads within the short-term. I want instead to focus on the long-term implications.
- What are the long-term consequences of living a life of regular lying?
- We lie and the instant relief from the pressure of the situation or the argument makes us forget that there are long-term consequences to our decisions to regularly bend the truth. What are those consequences?
1. You make God into a punch line.
- v. 7.
- This verse sounds strange to us. Abraham is the one who is wrong in this situation, yet he is the one who has to offer the prayer to redeem Abimelech. What we have to understand is that God had chosen Abraham as His representative and that didn’t change because of Abraham’s lying.
- We should not read v. 7 with the thought that God is saying, “Abraham’s lies are no big deal to me. I’m overlooking his actions. Ask him to pray for you because he’s being a faithful servant.” Rather, Abraham is the one God had put His power upon and I can almost see God cringing as He has to say, “See the guy over there. Yeah, the one named Abraham. Yeah, the one who made this whole mess. He’s the guy I’ve given My authority to, so you need to get him to pray for you.” God’s name is sullied because His authority is in the hands of a liar.
- In our lives, how many people are disinterested in Jesus because of the mouths of their Christian co-workers? How many people will not come to church because the disregard for the truth shown by a Christians neighbor?
- We bear the name of Christ. When we lie, we take the risk of making the name of Christ into a punch line for others to laugh at.