There are seven things that are an abomination to God (Proverbs 6:16). Among them are “a lying tongue” and “a false witness who speaks lies” (Proverbs 6:17, 19). This speaks to us clearly. God hates lying. It is contrary to His nature (He “cannot lie”, Titus 1:2), and contrary to His commands (Exodus 20:6; Ephesians 4:25; Colossians 3:9). This reality pervades Scripture, and is lent special emphasis at the end of Scripture where appears a three-fold reminder that no liar will enter into heaven (Revelation 21:8, 27; 22:15).
Like most sins, lying can become a habit. It can become the thing that we automatically turn to when we’re trying to get off the hook, or trying to impress, or even just trying to relate to others. It can become something we do even to ourselves (Galatians 6:3; 1 John 1:8), explaining away facts so that they won’t inconvenience us, or convincing ourselves of a falsehood because we want it to be true. Externally and/or internally, lying can become a deeply ingrained part of who we are, and thus a very hard habit to break. But it can be broken. It must be broken.
In undertaking the process of changing this bad habit (this sin), we can ask ourselves a few questions:
1. Am I willing to follow the truth wherever it leads?
In large measure, this is central to the issue of change, because following truth, like following the Lord, can take one to uncomfortable places. Knowing/acknowledging the truth about a situation, a person, or even oneself can lead to a great deal of personal pain (at least at first), not the least of which may be the loss of the “comfort” the lie gave. “[H]e who increases knowledge increases sorrow” (Ecclesiastes 1:18). Acting on truth can lead us away from a hobby, a profession, or even friends and family. Speaking the truth might keep them away from us. The gains of following truth will more than compensate for such losses, but this is the cost that must be counted.
2. Am I willing to value truth more than self?
This is really a sub-question to the one above, only slightly more focused. Lying is nearly always motivated by self-seeking: “But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth” (James 3:14). The desire to avoid shame, to acquire respect, to win companionship, to make a buck, these things drive the lies of the world. And all are self-centered. In this way, lying is at odds with loving: “Love…does not seek its own” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). When lying, liars are not loving the truth nor those they are lying to. They are loving only themselves. Am I willing to value truth more than self?
3. Am I willing to be honest with myself?
Though mentioned above, this bears repeating. God expects honesty in all quarters of our lives, and it may be harder in this area than in any other. But we must cultivate it. The man who pleases God is he “who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart” (Psalm 15:2). If I will not speak the truth to myself, I cannot be sure that I will always speak truth to others, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). Ultimately, the heart is at the heart of the matter (as usual). Am I willing to be honest even with myself?
Ironically, it takes some honesty to answer these questions. Yet it is hoped that if one’s heart is set on pursuing truth, in heart and in speech, they may be of some service.
Those are my thoughts. What are yours?