Sunday, January 11, 2009

honest pact and lies...

The sixth chapter of Proverbs provides a list of seven things The Lord hates according to Solomon. The second and sixth ones specifically deal with honesty. #2 says he hates a lying tongue and #6 warns that he detests a false witness who lies.

Today's passage, Job 24-28, includes Job's final speech, where in chapter 27 he made this proclamation:

3 As long as I live, while I have breath from God, 4 my lips will speak no evil, and my tongue will speak no lies. NLT

Several years ago one of my favorite musicians, Billy Joel, penned these lyrics:

Honesty is such a lonely word.
Everyone is so untrue.
Honesty is hardly ever heard.
And mostly what I need from you.

Why is honesty hardly ever heard? Or to quote another fave of mine, Kenny Loggins, Why do people lie? What is it that makes lying such a big deal to God and why was Job so committed to being honest?

Anyone who has ever been lied to can answer the question. There is a breach of trust that happens when you find yourself on the believing/receiving end of a lie. Some lies are easy to detect. Chocolate on a child's face is a pretty sure sign that he did steal the missing candy from your Whitman's Sampler even though he adamantly denies it. Other lies can be more easily concealed--take for instance, exaggeration of the truth.

Some have asked if exaggeration is actually the same as lying. I cannot answer that question with authority, but I do know this--you can lie without exaggerating, but you cannot exaggerate without deceiving.

I confessed at the outset that I would be writing these daily posts with the hope that one day my words will benefit my grandchildren. At the same time, I made a decision to record whatever God impressed upon my heart as I read through the Bible, even if it hurt or was hard for me. They say that confession is good for the soul. I hope that is true, because I tell you this, it's terrible for the ego. Taking an honest look at myself, my flaws, failures, and weaknesses is difficult-- especially when it comes to then admitting these things publicly.

Despite that, here goes--I am a recovering exaggerator. I would absolutely hate to have to say I am a recovering liar because that sounds worse than terrible, but if I am going to be completely honest, might that be necessary? Thankfully (and I mean this) several years ago members of my sweet family started calling me out when I fell off the "no exaggeration" wagon, and I think I am finally almost "clean". No longer do I regularly succumb to the temptation to tell a better story by exaggerating the details. Instead, I'm revolted if I feel my words are less than factual.

I have known people who are so accustomed to truth stretching they do not seem to have even a minimal conscience prick when they do it. In contrast, awareness of my own tendency to exaggerate for effect disgusted me. As a result, I went to extremes as a parent to teach my children the importance of honesty and I am so gratified as their mother that I believe them to be two of the most genuinely truthful people I know.

As a society, we've become desensitized to all manner of evil behaviors and character failures. Job understood the importance of honesty, determining that no evil speech or lying words would be spoken by his lips. Hopefully and prayerfully, Job's determination will serve as a reminder to me if I'm ever tempted to conceal or stretch the truth, and I will find strength in Christ my Lord to keep this honest pact with my mouth.

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