When authors James Patterson and Peter Kim set out to write their book, “The Day America Told the Truth,” they didn’t realize how much Americans lied. But their research found that a shocking 91 percent of Americans lie on a regular basis. In fact, they discovered that one in five Americans can’t get through a single day without lying.
Of course, we all have been in situations where we don’t want to tell someone the truth. They will say something like, “What do you think of this?” If you don’t like it, you don’t actually want to say you don’t like it. Maybe your wife or a friend puts on an outfit and asks, “Do I look fat in this?” At this point you are in trouble. So you look for a way around it: “Let me just say that it is an interesting outfit.”
Then there are those so-called little white lies that lead to bigger ones: “Just tell them I am not home,” when you don’t want to be bothered; “I forgot,” when you really didn’t; or “Good to see you,” when you are not happy to see them at all; or, “I was just going to call you,” when you actually weren’t.
Another way we lie is through gossip. Gossip is a powerful force. It topples governments. It wrecks marriages. It ruins careers. It destroys reputations. It causes nightmares. It spawns suspicion. It generates grief. If you have ever had someone gossip about you, then you know how painful it can be. Even the very word makes a hissing sound when it is spoken.
All too often, people will come to me with information about other people. “Did you hear the latest?” they ask. So I will try and find out how they know it is true. What is their source? Can I quote them? Have they gone to the person they are talking about and asked for their perspective? If the answer is no, then I don’t want to hear it.
The Bible warns, “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much” (Proverbs 20:19 NIV). Yet sometimes we try to rationalize gossip. We sneak it into conversations using phrases like, “Have you heard …” or “Did you know …” or “I don’t believe it is true, but I heard …” or “I wouldn’t tell you, but I know it won’t go any further …”
Another form of lying is flattery. Flattery has been defined as “saying certain things to a person’s face you would never say behind his or her back.” While backbiting is saying behind a person’s back what you would never say to his or her face, flattery is saying things to a person’s face that you would never say behind his or her back. It is tempting to flatter people when you want to get something from them. But it is a form of lying.
Exaggeration is a type of lying as well. For example, someone tells a story and begins to embellish it a little bit, and each time the story is told, it sounds a little more dramatic. Of course, we are always the hero of our own stories. Others exaggerate their skills on their résumé, stretching the facts a bit to get the job. That, too, is a form of lying.
It is even possible to lie without ever saying anything at all. This happens when we hear someone say something about another person that we know is not true, and yet we remain silent. It is slander by silence, complicity by passivity.
We have all lied in one way, shape or form. At the same time, if we are practicing deceit, if we are continuing to tell lies, then it is going to hinder our fellowship with God, because lying is offensive to God. Not only is he offended by it, he hates it. In the book of Proverbs, we find a list of seven things that God hates. Two of these have to do with deceit and dishonesty: “a lying tongue” and “a false witness who pours out lies” (Proverbs 6:17, 19 NIV).
From this we could safely conclude that God hates lying in any form. He hates it because he is the source of all truth. In fact, he uses that word to describe his very character. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6 NIV). When God chose a word to describe who he is, he chose “truth.” In dramatic contrast, Satan is identified as the Father of Lies. Therefore, when we lie, we are behaving more like the children of the devil than the children of God.
God says of the liar in Psalm 101:7, “He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house. He who tells lies shall not continue in my presence.” This means that the one who is telling lies is sinning against God.
If there are wrongs you have committed that you are not proud of, then I have some good news for you: God stands ready to forgive. But you must come to him and say you are sorry for your sins and put your complete faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Religion cannot change your heart; only God can change you on the inside. Only God can make you a different person than you were before.