Monday, July 9, 2018

More than a little white lie

Here are six things God hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion: eyes that are arrogant, a tongue that lies, hands that murder the innocent, a heart that hatches evil plots, feet that race down a wicked track, a mouth that lies under oath, a troublemaker in the family. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

As we look at the seven things that God actually tells us he hates or abhors (absolutely cannot tolerate), we have already explored that the proud or arrogant attitude of a man is a thing that turns God's stomach. Why? It affects the ability of others to see God in us and it ruins so many relationships when self is at the center of our focus. It should not catch us by surprise that God begins with pride or arrogance - for the eye directed toward self and self-interest all the time can seldom find time or place for others - even him. When self is at the center, everything is viewed by what it may benefit or hurt one's own self. While God doesn't want us walking into situations where we are hurt or left damaged, he also doesn't want us to be so 'myopic' that all we care about is how everything will affect 'me'.

Another attitude or behavior that God finds to be very repulsive in his sight is the lying tongue - coming on the heels of pride, we might just do well to consider why God listed this next. God finds a lying tongue a repugnant thing - it causes him extreme displeasure and he passionately pleads for us to avoid the destructiveness of lying. The effect of a lying tongue on both the one who is the believer or receiver of the lie, and the one who speaks the lie is what God is interested in here. God looks at outcomes - the steps by which those outcomes are produced are important - but he always keeps his eye on the outcome. Lies destroy others because they place trust in what was untrustworthy - it makes them skeptical about trusting again. Damaged relationships are the outcome of lies - both ours with others and with him; and those we could have had with others had those lies not built up walls of mistrust.

A person that tells lies is motivated by one of several reasons:
  • They do not feel the truth is grandiose enough - so they embellish it to make themselves look better. There you go - that pride thing again. The one who tells the lie actually believes that if the truth made him look good enough, he'd never find the need to embellish it so that others would see him or his involvement in a situation in a different light. The root of this type of lying is deeply seated in a man's own pride. He wants others to see him differently than he actually is - so he creates a "story". In God's economy, reality reigns - not a false image one tries to portray. Transparency and authenticity are two traits that are praised when they are exhibited.
  • They do not value the impact of the truth - so they used embellished truth or used misleading stories to "manage" the relational impact of what was shared. When we seek to cover-up the reality of our true feelings or desires within a relationship, we are creating a false sense of security for the other person - they are banking on something that really isn't there. This type of "protective lying" actually damages the relationship because trust is never fully established - we sometimes call this type of lying "white lies" - equally destructive to establishing trust as an outright, full-on lie of deception.
  • They desire to hurt others - so they manipulate another by the lies they tell. Some individuals actually set out to hurt by the words they choose to speak. An untruth used this way becomes a dagger in the hand of the one using it to "dig into" the character of another, bringing untold damage to that other person's character or reputation. 
I suppose we could think of other reasons a person uses lies, but it is pretty much the same underlying reasons. We either don't stand strong enough in our own virtue, or we don't want others to stand strong in theirs. God's attitude toward the lie is one of disgust - he hates it! He doesn't hate the liar - just the lying. Words have a powerful impact - truth can set us free, while lies can place us deeper into bondage. We are warned repeatedly in Scripture about the importance of managing our words. Something that is spoken of that many times should become a thing that we spend some time understanding. The warning to us is that God "abhors" (has extreme dislike, considers it to be passionately wrong) to use lying words. If God has that strong of a reaction to a lying word, it is time we consider the root of all untruthful words within our own lives. We may be the ones speaking the words - if so, it is time to ask God to temper our speech, revealing to us the TRUE reason we are compelled to use embellishments of the truth. We may be the ones hearing and believing the lies - if so, we need God to help us apply "filters" within our hearing to allow us to become aware of the lies we are receiving and believing. God will do both for us - we need only ask. Just sayin!