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 

 

 

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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.