Our culture says certain lies are okay, that motive rather than content matters, and, well, everyone fibs once in a while. But God doesn’t take our words quite as lightly because truly, what we say matters. As believers, we’re telling some pretty outlandish stories. We know this Guy who died then rose again. This same Guy walked on water, gave sight to the blind, and brought the dead back to life. Oh, and yeah, this Guy, this God-became-man, He lives in us.
Truth, yes, but truth that may be hard for some to believe. So why muddy the waters by adding sometimes-fibs, sometimes-truth into the mix?
Lying and Integrity–What We Say Matters
I’ve never told a lie.
And that’s where my smile would give me away if we were face-to-face. Truthfully, I’m one of those guys who can never play poker, but not because of any theological aversion to cards or gambling. No, I can never play because it has become almost impossible for me to lie.
It hasn’t always been that way.
When I was young, I lied about everything.
“Did you go to the drugstore for gum?” Mom would ask.
“No, I was at Steve’s house,” I’d answer, while chewing gum I got from the store.
“Did you walk the dog?”
“Yes, to the park and back.”
“Then why is he still on his chain in the back yard?”
I’d lie even if there was zero risk of getting in trouble. It was my little boy sin nature—and, perhaps, an early manifestation of my ability to fabricate for entertainment value (writing fiction).
I don’t recall the creative punishments my parents used to break me of that bad habit, but I can tell you they worked. Really well. I even have trouble with “little white lies” and lies that would save someone else embarrassment or shame.
Therefore, it’s no surprise to me that personal integrity is important to me, whether in my friendships, family relationships, at work, or in the stories I write.
The male character in my novella “Big Love,” which is part of a seven-author collection called Coming Home: The Tiny House Collection has a lying problem. Nathan “Rafe” Rafferty thinks he has a good reason to lie—and even lies to cover up his lies when he realizes the trouble he’s in.
(Scroll down to read an example, pulled from Michael’s book.)
But like so many sins that plague our lives, once we’ve lied that first time and felt the rush of “getting away with it,” it becomes easier to lie again—and again.
Like the Lays potato chip ads from long ago, “I betcha can’t (tell) just one!” And that’s what gets Rafe in trouble.
A lying tongue is one of the six, no seven, things God hates. (Prov. 6:16-17) According to the website Got Questions, a lying tongue is “one that speaks falsehood, knowingly and willingly, with an intention to deceive others … It is a most detestable evil to God, who is a God of truth.”
I’m grateful my parents cured me of lying and that they considered it the problem that it was because they could see into the future. Little lies can be cute, especially if told by cute little guys like I was.
But even cute little guys can get in trouble from lying. One day they’ll “cry wolf” once too often and no one will believe them at all.
Michael Ehret has accepted God’s invitation to a new season of writing and is now the author of the novella, “Big Love,” from the collection, Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection (available for preorder on Amazon.com). In addition, he’s worked as editor-in-chief of the ACFW Journal magazine for the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), was editor-in-chief of the Christian Writers Guild, and he pays the bills as a marketing communications writer. Michael sharpened his writing and editing skills as a reporter for The Indianapolis News and The Indianapolis Star. Visit him at WritingOnTheFineLine.com.
“Big Love,” from the Coming Home: the Tiny House Collection:
Berly Charles remembers the days before her father was a successful business tycoon in Indianapolis. Growing up a razor’s edge from homelessness planted a tiny desire for home in her heart that she now, as the owner of Le Petite Maison, LLC, fills for others by building their tiny home ideals. Now she has the opportunity to take her tiny house company big time—is this the chance she’s been waiting for?
Nathan “Rafe” Rafferty is a writer for the nationally reputed architecture journal who is used to calling his own shots and covering the biggest and the best architectural accomplishments of the modern world. When his hipster, much younger, editor assigns him to cover a new trend—tiny houses—the idea makes him furious. Could it be because it reminds him of when he and his mother had to live in a lean-to shack under a railroad trestle in Indianapolis?
Buy it HERE.
For the second time in two days Rafe looked up from his coffee at the tinkle of the bell on the Starbuck’s entry door. This time, no Berly. Instead, a chattering mob of high school kids looking like they’d just left church poured into the coffee shop. They were dressed in their finest casual clothes. Jeans properly torn and faded in just the right places.
Geneva Stoddard would have had a cow.
Of course, she’d probably give birth to a whole herd of bovines if she found out what he’d been up to lately. His jeans were intact, but his mother would consider his integrity torn. The woman did not tolerate lies, white or black.
“I don’t care what you’ve done,” she’d always said. “But if I find out you lied to me about it, your punishment will be worse. And the truth always comes out, Nathan.”
The threat had not been enough to keep Rafe on the bright side of dark lies, let alone little white ones, but it did give him pause as he considered pursuing Berly Charles—and all that might mean.
If this was going to happen, he wanted it to start off on the right foot, and that meant coming clean—sort of—about who he was.
Let’s talk about this! Why do you think lying is such a big deal to God? Is this an area you struggle with? Why do you think people are most tempted to lie? Share your thoughts, examples, and questions with us, because we can all learn from each other!
You might also enjoy:
What Do Your Actions Say About Integrity
Jennifer, thanks for letting me share with your readers. Personal integrity is something that never becomes old hat. It’s always an issue. I appreciate you letting me tackle it on your pages.
Thanks for the great message and reminder!
Reblogged this on Writing On The Fine Line and commented:
Personal integrity is key for me. See what I mean with my guest post today on Jennifer Slattery’s blog, “Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud.”