The ninth commandment is found in Exodus 20:16, and it says “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.” A good paraphrase of this commandment is simply — don’t tell lies.
Dr. Leonard Keeler invented the lie detector machine. After conducting numerous tests, he concluded human beings are basically deceptive. Duh! I don’t think we don’t need a lie detector to figure that one out.
So, what’s lying? Well, the dictionary says lying is an intention to mislead — the dissemination of untruth. This includes falsifying information, as well as concealing information. When we deliberately hold back anything less than the truth, we’re being deceptive and we are lying. Even if we hold back one fact out of a hundred facts, that’s still lying.
In today’s blog I want to talk about developing the habit of telling the truth. The Bible says there three general requirements for telling the truth. They are (1) Tell the truth completely. (2) Tell the truth consistently. (3) Tell the truth lovingly.
Let’s start with the first one which is telling the truth completely.
Proverbs 10:10 says, “People who wink at wrong cause trouble, but a bold reproof promotes peace.”
People who wink at wrong are endorsing wrongdoing and thereby are causing trouble. The flip side is boldly confronting wrongdoing and thereby promoting peace.
When my wife and I were first married, I was reluctant to face certain issues with my son (I was a widower with three children). My son was getting in with the wrong crowd and was using drugs. I was blind to this. This was my sweet little baby boy, who could do no wrong. So, I wouldn’t acknowledge what was going on. I was winking at wrong — as the Proverb says. It wasn’t until my wife finally got me to see the truth, that I could honestly face the problem. She didn’t cover it up — she was bold — and she told me the truth completely and forthrightly. Thank the Lord she did, because we were able to do something about my son’s problems. And not only his problems, but the problem of resentment that was building up between us.
The second thing the Bible tells us to do is tell the truth consistently.
Being honest 60% or 70% or 80% of the time is not telling the truth consistently. It’s like the boy crying wolf. After a while people are not sure whether he’s telling the truth or not. He may be telling the truth 80% of the time and lying 20% of the time, but how would anyone know the difference?
Ephesians 4:15 says,
“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”
Speaking the truth in love means we do it consistently, because our motivation is love. If I truly love you, I am going to tell you the truth — and I am going to do it consistently. I am not going to hold back, and I’m not going to cover up anything. Proverbs 11:3 says
“Honesty guides good people; dishonesty destroys treacherous people.”
Notice the word “destroys”. That’s what dishonesty does. Dishonesty is lying, and lying always destroys relationships. How? Well, relationships must be built on trust, but deception destroys trust. After a while people who are consistently dishonest have no relationships, because nobody can trust them. Proverbs 13:16 says,
“Wise people think before they act; fools don’t—and even brag about their foolishness.”
Sometimes couples come to me for counseling and say, “We’ve been married for a long time, and we have the same old problems.” I usually ask a few questions. Are you guys doing the same things over and over? That’s usually the first symptom. If people keep doing the same thing over and over, they will always get the same result.
And then I ask them as second question. “Do you think before you act?” In other words, do you ask yourself —
Will what I’m about to do or say produce the same results? Or do I need to do or say something else?
That may sound simple to do, but let me tell you, it’s not. Thinking before acting is a new habit for most people, and forming new habits is very hard. It takes work and effort, but it must be done.
Well that’s it for now. Next week we will talk about how to tell the truth lovingly, and then we will summarize what we need to do. See you then …