Those Hidden, Seemingly Innocuous Sins

Man with fingers crossed behind his backWhen do you find it most difficult to live with integrity? And where’s the line? Do you view some behaviors, like “borrowing” a hand towel from the hotel room or perhaps snatching a few boxes of staples from work, as being harmless? What if the drive through cashier accidentally gave you $10 extra change? Would you count that a blessing, or would your heart prick, motivating you to turn back and around and rectify the error?

My guest today shares a time when she was confronted with just such an instance, one that, depending on her response, challenged her convenience. Read on to see what God showed her through this experience.

Are Half-truths Really a Big Deal?

by Lori Closter

Maybe no one’s watching … but small sins matter.

We’re loading groceries into our car in the parking lot and, as the cart empties, see a small bar of soap. Or a jar of salsa or bag of M&M’s. Something small and alone, unbagged, that we unknowingly smuggled out of the store. And it’s pouring out or freezing or a heat wave, Baby cryingand our toddler’s still screaming for an Oreo or, if we’re older, our bad hip is whining because we did all that raking this morning when we knew better.

Whatever the circumstance, the store looks a mile away, and a molehill resembles a mountain.

What to do? Leave it in the cart, in the cart-return “garage”? Hand it off to the employee conflating those carts into a train to trundle back to the store, and hope s/he’s honest? Or—do the right thing, because God is always watching?

We all know the answer: Do not steal is one of The Ten Commandments. But does honesty really matter in trivial things?

A pastor was once given far too much change from his bus fare and, after some internal struggle due to the inconvenience involved, returned the correct amount to the driver. To his astonishment, the driver grinned and said something like, “Thanks, pastor. I’ll see you at church on Sunday. I just wanted to know if you were for real.” A soul saved?

The rewards for honesty aren’t always so clear-cut. My husband and I once drove back to a home improvement store to correct a $1,100 mistake. Somehow, we’d gotten a free generator. When we pointed out the error, the salesclerk completed the transaction without batting an eye. We were indignant afterward. Shouldn’t our honesty have been acknowledged, maybe even rewarded, as people are who turn in lost wallets to the police? At the very least, we felt we deserved a letter of appreciation from the store headquarters.

Image of woman looking out the window with the text of Luke 17:10Scripture addresses this too, in an illustration of an employer who’d assigned his servant a task. “Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’” (Luke 17:9-10, ESV).

No one may seem to be watching. But God is. The day I found the unbagged item in my cart, I did go back. I received no discount or reward (unless you count the surprised look on the face of the customer service employee), but knew I’d kept a “clean slate” or more accurately, heart, before the Lord. “Virtue is its own reward,” John Henry Newman said, and each step on our faith walk strengthens us for the challenges ahead.

If we search our hearts, do we find tiny sins whose unanticipated consequences could damage others? Do half-truths or unkind words tarnish our “light”? Do we drive as if a two-foot high Christian fish symbol were glued to our car? (Ouch!)

Your turn …

Get to Know Lori!

Lori Closter's author photoLori Closter is an assistant pastor’s wife in the spiritually dark Northeast, a mom, and a grammy. Educated at Cornell and Temple Universities, early on Lori wrote non-fiction and worked on educational films made for National Geographic. She then became a Christian, married, and homeschooled her children for many years. During that time, she felt led to study fiction writing and published three stories (one in the teen mag Brio) and a humorous poem that appeared without her knowledge under the byline of the narrator—a goat. Lori kept writing until she dreamed she was showing a film without a take-up reel, and film was spooling all over the floor. She felt God was making a point and is currently (finally) seeking an agent for her mature YA novel, a 2017 Genesis semi-finalist. Her story collection, Riding the Elephant, is also entered in several contests. Lori prays her writing will not only bless Christians, but find its way, like the Apostle Paul, to beyond “where Christ has already been named” (Rom 15:20), bringing hope to the lost. Contact her at Lori@LoriCloster.com or on Facebook if you’d like to be kept posted!

(Note: the novel title is withheld to comply with 2018 Genesis rules. Any YA judges, please do not visit the website now.)

 

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Lying and Integrity–What We Say Matters

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

by Michael Ehret

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 timeis 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.

Book excerpt:

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:

In the Absence of Integrity

What Do Your Actions Say About Integrity

Obedience in the Mundane

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire 

 

 

What Do Your Actions Say About Your Integrity

johnstudy1

Integrity speaks. Loudly, and most often, when we’re completely oblivious as to who’s watching. But the truth is, someone is always watching, and if you’re a follower of Christ, this is a big deal because we are Christ’s representatives. This means, others will catch a glimpse of who Christ is by what we do and say. More so what we do. Our actions either back up and strengthen our words, or they contradict them.

Integrity doesn’t happen over night. And it doesn’t just happen. It’s developed choice by choice, thought by thought, until it’s just something we do. Until it’s almost organic to us.

For those of you who are following our study of John the Baptist:

John’s life was characterized by integrity. (I’ll share some suggested reading passages at the end of this post.) He continually did what was right–whatever God had called him to do–even when doing so was crazy hard, and ultimately cost him his life. That’s integrity, and man, did that speak.

sarah-ruutToday’s guest, my sweet friend and fellow ACFW member Sarah Ruut, shares a moment when a stranger caught a moment of integrity she wasn’t even aware of, and what she learned from it.

The Statement of Integrity by Sarah Ruut

During our trips to Costco, one of the highlights for my kids is the sample carts. On this particular morning, I had all four kids with me, and they had gone over to a particularly crowded cart. I stayed close enough to give my approval to the lady serving them, but far enough to avoid the jumble of carts and bodies.

It took a few minutes for them each to have a bite in hand and return. As they photo-1448131063153-f1e240f98a72stood next to our cart enjoying their little treat, another shopper approached.

“I just want to tell you how impressed I am with your son.”

Oh? My mind replayed the scene, wondering what had caught her attention.

“There weren’t enough samples for all of them, so he served his younger siblings first and waited for the next batch to get his own.”

I hadn’t even picked up on that, but the simple, quiet action had obviously made an impression.

We have opportunities to make impressions on those around us every day. Often we don’t even stop to think about it. How many people see what you do? The decisions you make, or the way you respond to a challenge?

Probably more than you think.

Sometimes it’s easy to think, “No one will ever know. No one will ever see.” We can use that as an excuse to get away with something we would not do in front of others, especially those we want to impress. But if no one will ever know…?

That very decision, though, defines your character. Do you have integrity? Will you do what’s right, no matter who is or isn’t looking?

I love this quote from Chuck Swindoll:

“Few things are more infectious than a godly lifestyle. The people you rub shoulders with everyday need that kind of challenge. Not prudish. Not preachy. Just cracker jack clean living. Just honest to goodness, bone – deep, non-hypocritical integrity.” ~ Chuck Swindoll

Doing what’s right. No matter who’s watching. No matter what the circumstances. Just doing the right thing. Do we?

***

Sarah Ruut is an avid reader of Christian fiction when she’s not busy homeschooling her four tweens and teens. She loves sharing about books and their authors on her blog, Fiction, Faith, and Fun, where you’ll find devotionals as well as reviews of Christian fiction, interviews with amazing authors, giveaways and more! You can also connect with Sarah on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads.

livingbygracepic-jpLet’s talk about this! Can you share a time when you were faced with a difficult choice, maybe when you worried doing the right thing would cost you something, and what the result was? Do you have any thoughts on Sarah’s post? Share your thoughts, stories, and examples here in the comments below, on Facebook at Living by Grace, or join our discussion in the For the Love Bible Study group.

Read the following Bible passages and consider how they reveal John’s integrity:

Luke 1:13-17, Matthew 3:4

John 1:19-27

Matthew 14:1-12

You may also enjoy: In the Absence of Integrity

The Little White Lie

Speaker Cynthia Spell; author, speaker and acquisitions editor Eva Marie Everson, and me.

Speaker Cynthia Spell; author, speaker and acquisitions editor Eva Marie Everson, and me.

Is there such a thing as a little white lie? What kind of weight do our words carry? And what’s at stake? Today prolific author and fellow ACFW member Darlene Franklin shares a challenging devotion on integrity. As you read her thoughts on Psalm 15:1-2, ask God to show you the areas in your heart in need of cleaning.

GIVE-AWAY ALERT! As a special bonus, Darlene is giving away free copies of her latest release, Christmas Mail Order Angels, one to every ten readers who leave a comment on today’s post.

But first, I wanted to encourage all of you who live in the Omaha area to make sure to scroll to the end of this post, because I’ve got some special announcements. 🙂 (Which may turn into their own post tomorrow, time permitting.)

The Little White Lie by author Darlene Franklin

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?. . . The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart;

(Psalm 15:1-2)

The Bible says “out of the heart come evil thoughts” (Matthew 15:9), and don’t I know it. Ask me how I’m doing, and I’m prone to list all of my complaints for the day. I didn’t sleep well, woke up stiff and sore, the nurse was late with my medicine, the kitchen sent the wrong breakfast. . .and those are only my top complaints.

There are other times I’m tempted to tell a white lie. Sometimes new writers send me a sample of their writing. “Is it good? Do you like it?”

I avoid a direct answer. “No.” Instead, I pick out good aspects of the story, be it grammar, creative story line, interesting character. If they push me, I might say, “This isn’t really my genre. Someone else might like it better.” A lie? Or a kind redirection?

ID-100112495

Photo by Marin taken from freedigitalphotos.net

What is the truth in my heart? I can go to my selfish, carnal self. The half empty glass quickly drains of anything good. I can dwell on my worries, my fears, my health, until I make myself sick.

Or. . .I can speak God’s truth, that the Holy Spirit whispers in my heart. God is good. He is faithful. He will provide for my needs.

Instead of complaining about other people, I can compliment them: a smile, a new blouse, a job well done. The more I appreciate them, the fewer reasons they give me to complain.

Instead of my list of complaints, I can focus on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, or admirable. (Phil. 4:8-9) In a word, think about anything that is excellent or praiseworthy.

The truth in my heart will depend on what I put into it.

FINAL MOA vol 1Darlene’s novel, Christmas Mail Order Angels:

A dying town populated by miners eager to settle down. . .but not a single marriageable woman lives in Angel Vale, Wyoming. The women of Merville, Maine, have lost too many men to the Civil War and to the sea. When the Ladies Aid Society receives the request for mail order brides, eleven matches are made. Enjoy the first six novellas in the collection by Darlene Franklin, Susan Page Davis, Cynthia Hickey, Brandi Boddie, Jennifer AlLee, and Teresa Ives Lilly.

Buy it HERE.

Best-selling author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a jan 21 15nursing home. She lives in Oklahoma, near her son and his family, and continues her interests in playing the piano and singing, books, good fellowship, and reality TV in addition to writing. She is an active member of Oklahoma City Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Christian Authors Network. She has written over fifty books and more than 250 devotionals. Her historical fiction ranges from the Revolutionary War to World War II, from Texas to Vermont.

Visit her online at her Website and blog, stay up to date at her Amazon Author Page, and connect with her on Facebook.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! How would you describe integrity? How do our words fit in with that? What are your views on those “little white lies”, and how might our credibility affect the gospel, or our attempts to share it?

Share your thoughts in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Before you go, I’ve got some fun news. First, today is the official release day of Intertwined. Yay! To celebrate, I’m doing a signing at the Oak View Mall Barnes and Nobles. If you’re in the Omaha area, pop in and say hi!

  • AND… Reality Church is hosting a hilariously fun, bejeweled event just for ladies next weekend. I hope you’ll come! We’ll start with dinner, a slightly-self-mortifying talk (embarrassing for me, not my listeners!) glittery shoes, cowboys, and piles of manure, followed by live worship led by the amazingly talented Shelly Conn and Angie Wayman. And on Saturday, speaker Lelia Chealy will fill our hearts with encouragement as she encourages us to shine like the cherished treasures we are.

Here’s the speaking topics:

Friday night:

Speaker: Me, with special guests Susan Aken and Trisha Baker

Embracing Our Identities in Christ
  1. We are cherished, redeemed women of grace, treasures to Christ and meant to shine with His brilliance. But so often, we allow past wounds, regrets, shame, and negative thinking to hold us back, hinder our relationships and our joy, and distort the radiant glow from within. In this 30 minute presentation, Jennifer uses humor and personal stories to remind women of who they are in Christ and to embrace their God-given identity.
Saturday brunch and lunch:
Speaker: Lelia Chealy
Making of a Treasure
So often as women we don’t see ourselves the same way God sees us…as a treasure. In this session Lelia shares a story from the Bible where God sees someone as valuable, unique and usable. (1Samuel 9, 10)
Making Beautiful Shine

Just as a brides’ sparkly diamond ring, God wants us to shine. Lelia shares from her own life as

Photo by digitalart taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by digitalart taken from freedigitalphotos.net

well as a story from the Bible of a woman who felt unnoticed in every area of her life, until she crossed paths with Jesus. (Mark 5)

Find out more and register online HERE. And bring a friend, because we can all use more meaningful connections in our lives and the reminder that we’re radiant and cherished and more than enough.

(If you’d like to book me, Lelia, and Shelly for your next women’s event, you can email me at jenniferaslattery(at)gmail(dot)com.)

Now, as promised last week, where I’ve been.

Tuesday, my husband joined me for two radio interviews. In the morning, we visited with Dave and Kristen from the morning show at KGBI the FISH. You can listen to our interview HERE.

Later that morning, we visited with Dave again, this time on the Heartland Viewpoint, and Kathy Andersen, the mother of the teenager who went into kidney failure, and whom my husband donated a kidney on his behalf, joined us.  You can listen to the whole miraculous story HERE.

Yesterday I visited Genesis 5:20 to share where I get my story ideas, among other things. You can read that interview HERE.

On the 6th, Margaret Daley interviewed Tammy Kuhn, the main female character in Intertwined. You can read that interview HERE.

Also on the 6th, I visited friend and author Delia Latham’s blog to share some fun tips on how to have a successful book launch.  You can read that HERE.

65eef-whendawnbreaks_n154102_300dpirgbOh! And I almost forgot! Amazon has When Dawn Breaks listed for a crazy discount! You can get the print or kindle version for under $3! Buy it HERE.

On October 3rd I visited Salt and Light to tell about an older woman who opened her home to a bunch of barefoot, dirty-faced, squirmy kids, and how doing so changed my life for eternity. You can read that HERE.

Why it Matters What Others Think

Did my blog title cause your hackles to rise? With today’s appearance/performance centered culture, most of us must fight daily to bring everything back to surrendered obedience. Blog posts and Youtube videos abound countering our culture’s shallow and exhausting trend, and with good ID-100184427reason. So rest assured, I’m not going to tell you to jump back on that people-pleasing treadmill. To the contrary. I’m going to encourage you to center your whole heart, every thought and desire, in Christ.

Because if you do, your actions will follow, and people will notice.

Two, maybe three years ago, a dear friend approached me with a story idea. At first I told her “Absolutely not!”, because I felt completely ill-equipped to write it. But then one morning, I awoke with the story unfolding in my brain. Having walked with Christ on this writing journey for a while, I determined God had birthed the story within me. Therefore, He wanted me to write it. So, I called my friend, making sure she understood all this would entail.

I’d need help. A lot of help. You see, this novel would require a great deal of medical knowledge, which I lacked. It’s very difficult to plot something you don’t understand.

And so began our journey. Over the course of a year, Ami Koelliker and I met over lunch, coffee, at her house, talked by phone, and swapped documents as we ID-10023724eeked out the story. And I mean eeeeeeeeeeked out. This was the most difficult story I’ve written to date. It was frustrating, exhausting, and often, downright discouraging. To make matters worse, I kinda doubted we’d ever even sell it. So in essence, we were spending all this time, giving ourselves headaches, on a project that we knew would likely end up in our computer’s trash bin.

There were many times I wanted to call it quits. Many times. I even considered writing Ami a check to compensate her for her time then being done with the whole thing.

But I didn’t. I stuck with it. (As did she.)

And here’s why: I’d made a commitment, and I intended to honor it, regardless of the cost or the outcome.

Flash forward two years, and I receive an email from my editor. New Hope wanted to contract this novel. (Yes, I signed, and the story is going through the various editorial stages now and has a scheduled release date of October 2015.) A story I’d seriously considered bailing on. I’m so very glad I didn’t.

It’s not that I am or was highly spiritual or possessed incredible inner grit. But this is an area God is growing in me. Because our word matters. Consider the following verse:

“Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord: Who may enter Your presence on Your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts. Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends … and keep their promises even when it hurts” (Psalm 15:1-4 NLT)

Our actions reveal our heart. It’s one thing to say we’re transformed by grace; it’s another to reveal this with how we live our lives. For as Proverbs 20:11 says, “Even children are known by the way they act, whether their conduct is pure, and whether it is right” (NLT).

Christian character is a big deal. It adds credibility to our witness and forms a foundation of trust that lets others know we’re honest, reliable, and forthright. Conversely, lack of character is a big deal. It destroys our witness, hinders deep relationships, and ultimately leads to ever-increasing self-deception. And living in self-deception is a dangerous place to be.

As I read through Ruth, from the first chapter to the last, I was instantly struck with how honorable both Ruth and Boaz were. They worked hard, honored their commitments, were loyal to their loved ones. And everyone knew this.

In Ruth chapter 2, Boaz says to Ruth, “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers” (NLT).

Then, in chapter three, we begin to see Boaz’s character. He says, “Now don’t worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman” (3:11 NLT).

How does Naomi respond when she learns of Boaz’s statement? She says to Ruth in verse 18, “Just be patient, my daughter, until we hear what happens. The man won’t rest until he has settled things today” (3:18).

In other words, she knew Boaz would take care of it, and that he would take care of it immediately. 

Their previous actions had revealed their character. Ours do as well. 

Let’s talk about this. If you haven’t had a chance to, read Ruth chapter 3 here. I know you likely read the first part of this chapter Friday but I encourage you to read it again. Actually, I encourage you to read chapters 2 and 3 again. You can do that here.

What stood out to you as read Ruth chapter 3?

What character traits impress you most in Ruth? What about in Boaz?

What areas might God long to help you grow in, in regard to your character?

How well do you honor your commitments? If you struggle in this area, what will you do differently, having studied this portion of Ruth?

Share your thoughts here in the comments below, on Facebook, or via our email loop. And make sure to visit Beth’s blog Friday for our next lesson.

Other posts and resources you might find helpful:

In Absence of Integrity

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

And as a teaser… for those curious about this book Ami helped me write, here’s what it’s about:

Abandoned by her husband, an organ procurement coordinator fighting to keep her job and her sanity encounters an old flame facing an unthinkable tragedy.

For Tammy Kuhn, being an organ procurement coordinator is more than a job. It’s a ministry. But when her husband of sixteen years leaves her for another woman, struggles with childcare, her absentee ex-husband, and an altercation with a doctor threaten her job. Embittered and overwhelmed, she fights to maintain her sanity when a late night encounter with an old flame stirs emotions long since buried but the ICU is no place for romance.

 

 

 

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!

GE DIGITAL CAMERAIntrinsically, we know lying’s wrong. I think that’s part of our inner compass. But then, we get older and socially “aware”, and somehow the lines become blurred. We might even be tempted to believe some lies are good–if they are told for a good reason, perhaps to protect someone’s feelings or create a positive, altruistic outcome. And what about deception by omission? Those times when, perhaps we don’t verbally lie, but we allow others to believe a half-truth? Today my sweet friend, Beth Farley digs into Proverbs 19:9, challenging us to honestly evaluate our honesty. 🙂

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire by Beth Farleyliar

Proverbs 19:9: NLT
A false witness will not go unpunished, and a liar will be destroyed.

What is a false witness? I looked up the definition and it read that it is a person who deliberately gives false testimony, someone who has lied or lies repeatedly. Why do you think people feel they have to lie? We see it so often; at least I do working with the public. I can’t tell you how many people are dishonest about library fines. You read that right. LIBRARY FINES. It shocks me.

You know, I’ve always thought about Proverbs 19:9 pertaining to telling lies all of the time as being a false witness, but just recently I had an opportunity to really think about it more. I began to monitor myself the other day and caught myself “stretching the truth” about something to a co-worker. I had to stop in mid-sentence and evaluate what I was saying and the worst part of all was that this co-worker is a Christian, so there was no need to do that. Do you ever do that? Do you allow things to fly out of your mouth before you even consider if you are about to bear false witness?

Look at what the following scriptures say about false witness: all taken from the KJV:

Proverbs 19:5: A false witness shall not be unpunished, and (he that) speaketh lies shall not escape. (ouch!)

Exodus 20:16: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. 1 John 2;4: he that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. Revelation 21:8: But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Ephesians 4:25: Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.

If we are members of one another, then why do we feel the need to tell those little white lies, bear false witness, say things and give ourselves the glory rather than give God the glory? I think we need to do an honest assessment of ourselves and see if we are really being truthful in who we are. It’s easy around the house with family, praying in safe environments, at church and with other Christians, but hey, maybe not. I almost fell into it amongst a fellow Cristian.

Look at the second half of the scripture: Liars will be destroyed. Let me say it again, BE DESTROYED. It doesn’t read, bad liars, huge liars, consistent liars; it reads LIARS…All sorts of liars, the little-white liars and the fibbers. I think in order to effectively mirror God with our whole self; we must find and use our authentic voices. We can reflect in unique and distinct ways, however, without our voice (telling the truth), then we are not walking in the image of God. I don’t know about you, but I really need to work on this. I don’t consider myself a liar; however, I see how easily I can get caught up in the snare of a lie.

Lord, we thank you so much for all that you do for us. We thank you that you loved us to send Christ to the cross for our sins. Please forgive us for falling short of walking in truth. Please forgive us when the little white lie rolls off the tip of our tongues. We long to be more like Christ. Have your way with us. In Jesus’ precious name; amen.

Beth Ann Farley is a dear friend of mine and one of our Yahoo Bible Study group members. She is married with three grown children. She lives in Kansas City, MO where she serves as librarian. She loves to read, write, decorate and spend as much time as possible outside with her Peek-A-Poo. Beth is a lover of the Lord. “He is my-everything and I can’t start a day without visiting with Him.” Beth came to know the Lord when she was 30 years old and has served Him on committee’s such as Missions Outreach, Local Missions, Diaconate Committee, Youth Committee, and was a church secretary for several years. Beth loves Women’s Bible Studies, has hosted several in each one of her homes that she has lived in and has led a few as well. Beth is now taking time in life to move forward with her writing in whatever way God directs her.

Visit her online at: http://firsthalfday1.wordpress.com/

Share your thoughts. Do you believe white lies are ever okay and/or appropriate, and if so, why and when? If not, why?

Share a time when someone lied to you or deceived you. How did you feel? Did that affect your relationship? If so, how?

If you are a parent or grandparent, do you model integrity and honesty? Before you answer, pause to consider: Do you ever ask others to tell a caller you aren’t home when indeed you are?

Join the conversation here, in the comments below, or join our Yahoo Bible study group. (It’s not too late! We’d love to have you. 😉 )


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You might also enjoy: In Absence of Integrity

In Absence of Integrity

Yesterday as I skimmed through various facebook updates, I noticed a status post declaring an hour-long commitment to honesty. The person who posted it told their friends to message them a question–any question–because they couldn’t lie for the next hour.

As I reflected upon this post, I thought how starkly our generation contrasts biblical times. Throughout the Bible you hear mention of oaths–about 30 times. Deals could be sealed by removing your sandal and once you gave your word, you were bound. And Jesus Himself tells us our yes should be yes and our no should be no, meaning, our integrity should be such that people expect us to keep our word, whether we’ve made an oath or not.

Could that be said of you?

Today, an oath is a temporary statement of convenience. We almost expect promises and commitments to be broken. How easy those excuses come when our original agreement is deemed inconvenient! We’ve even found loop-holes to those set in legal stone. The result is an over all lack of trust.

Last fall I was asked to do some ghost writing for a ministry leader and as I spoke with others about this I was strongly warned to sign something upfront. Those I spoke with were concerned this person would weasel out at some point in the deal. (Which happened, unfortunately, two chapters before the end of the project.) A reminder that promises–commitments–have lost value even in the church. Instead of influencing our white-lie generation, we have allowed it to influence us.

But here’s the problem. If people can’t take us at our word, how can we expect them to believe the gospel we represent?

It’s time to raise the bar–to become people of integrity, in big and small matters. Because what we do harms our witness and impacts the next generation. Every time we break a commitment, we teach our children to do the same. Every time we find a loophole, we weaken the value of our spoken word.

Let me give an example. There’s a family we’ve been trying to minister to and after about six months of failed attempts, I’ve noticed a pattern. One that’s trickled down, invading the behavior of the children.

One day we invited the family to dinner. When the time for our engagement rolled around, we realized how inconvenient the engagement would be because we were in the midst of redoing our floors and had zero furniture in our house. But having had others make and break commitments, I knew the danger of backing out, so I arranged for a picnic instead and went to the grocery store to buy picnic foods. Then, the day of, I diced, chopped and sliced to get ready. About an hour before we were to meet, I received a phone call. Something came up and this family wouldn’t be able to meet us after all.

About a week later, after making arrangements for the girl to come home with us so we could take her to youth group, my daughter and I sat in the school parking lot wondering where she was. This was her fourth after school no-show. Fifteen  minutes later, we gave up and drove home only to get a text a short while later, saying, “Oh, I forgot!”

Which led to an indepth discussion between my daughter and I. The mother’s failure to keep commitments had trained her daughter to do the same.

So how can we reverse this trend?

Matthew 5:37 says, All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

I believe this is saying, let your word stand on its own. Be known for your integrity. To do that:

1. Keep your word. Whether verbally spoken or legally agreed upon. Determine to be a person of integrity who can be trusted to do what you say you’re going to do.

2. Resist the temptation to tell white lies. Contrary to popular opinion, white lies do hurt. They taint our character and damage our witness.

I loved this quote by John Piper:

“Telling the truth is evidence that we know God and have faith in Him, because faith in the goodness and sovereignty of God conquers the deceitful craving for esteem and safety and possessions that causes us to distort the truth in order to gain a worldly advantage. With faith in a God like ours, there is no need to be deceitful. He knows what is best for us, and He will always give it.” Read the rest of the article here.