Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why I Lie

This year I'm spending a portion of my private worship in the Psalms. So far it's been rich and challenging.

The other day I came across a Psalm where the writer condemned dishonesty and "flattering tongues". In my mind I quickly dismissed it. You see, I learned "that shalt not lie" at an early age. Everyone knows that dishonesty is a sin and surely all of us are mature enough not to lie.

But after I sat and thought for a while it became clear that I can have a tendency for dishonesty. Sure, my dishonesty is more refined than a 3rd grader saying he didn't take the cookie from the cookie jar, but I still have a tendency towards dishonesty.

So here are a couple of questions I'm asking myself to make sure my life is filled with integrity not dishonesty.

Do you ever exaggerate?

It's really easy to make statements that put ourselves in a little better light. This can be done when talking about how much we work or how tired we are or how many people showed up at something. This is dishonesty. When tempted to get others to think well of us it's easy use hyperbole.

Do you ever withhold the truth so someone might feel better about themselves?

Have you ever had a friend or coworker come to you and ask you, "what do you think"? Now, this doesn't apply to 4 year olds who come to their dad and ask if he thinks the picture is a great work of art. Of course it is, a 4 year old did it. It does apply to coworkers or friends who ask about performance. If we love people we will tell them the truth, gently, but tell them the truth even if our opinion might hurt.

Do you ever misrepresent what is going on in your heart?

I'm not sure all this questions means, but sometimes I believe I act more passionate about something than I really am. In words I express great passion for something but in my heart I may feel moderate or even disinterested. For those of us who speak and preach we have to really be careful with this. We can quickly become inauthentic and trust me, people can tell the difference.

Here's the bottom line. I don't typically lie to get out of trouble, if I struggle with dishonesty it's about the intense effort of getting people to like and respect me. It almost always comes back to the battle against pride.

So here's my challenge to you, think about the words you have used over the last 48 hours. Were your words totally honest? May we be people who are careful to have integrity before God and others.

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