Liar, Liar

Stop telling lies…

One of the most fascinating aspects of my communication study over the years has been the idea of perception. Perception is essentially a person’s point of view, how they take in information about their world. A lot goes into that point of view. It is how we interpret the world according to our sensory organs, our past experiences, and the context of the perception. The list can go on and on with factors that affect perception. The bottom line is none of us experience the world the same way.

One can make a case that we really don’t lie. We just report to others our unique perceptions. A simple illustration is two pedestrians seeing an auto accident as it occurs at an intersection. One pedestrian is an auto body repair person. When the accident occurs, this person sees the extent of the damage and immediately begins to assess the cost. Maybe they don’t even pay attention to the drivers. The other pedestrian is a pet person. They see a small cat that one driver has tried to dodge. That cat caused one driver to wreck but that is not their utmost concern. They are pet lovers and their heart goes out to the kitty and they look to see if it is ok. Police come onto the scene and question both pedestrians about the accident. What were the circumstances of the car movement? What about driver behavior? Truthfully, the auto body person can only comment on the cost of the damage. That person was not paying attention to the circumstances of the cars or drivers at all. Of course the pet lover did not even attend much at all to the wreck. They were really concentrating on the kitty cat.

When they respond to the questions of the police, are they lying or are they merely reporting their perceptions? Does each person have a different set of facts?

Truly we don’t all see the world the same way. Individuals can have different points of view, “alternative facts” if you will, but this is not really what James is talking about in James 3:14: “Don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying.” It is not what Paul is saying in Colossians 3:9 when he says “Don’t lie to each other.” These are New Testament “commands” to tell the truth. These are New Testament commands to not lie.

Lying is making up “facts” or telling people something that you know is untrue. This is not the gray area caused by your unique perception. It is speaking words to others to create a reality that is false.

Pastor Bevere in his book “Good or God?” states that contemporary ethics seems to allow for lying behavior. The idea today is that if lying leads to a desired end, then it is ok. He states lying occurs “in government, education, ministry and medicine and among family members and friends. We lie to save face, protect our reputations, propel ourselves to a desire position or expedite a desired end.”

Besides breaking the well-known Old Testament commandment, why is it still mentioned in the New Testament, a portion of the Bible that emphasizes grace? Doesn’t grace “cover” lying. The short answer is no. In this conception, grace becomes a tool to rid a liar of guilt. Maybe what the New Testament writers like James and Paul realized is that Christians can abuse grace when it comes to telling the truth. If we emphasize that we are serving the “greater good,” maybe lying can be justified and what the heck, grace will cover my sin anyhow.

The whole premise of Pastor Bevere’s book is based on getting us to understand that grace exists to empower us to a holier life, a closer relationship with God. Using grace to cover lying is definitely not part of his message.

Bevere also says that lying may just be people trying to speed up the process of getting something done instead of waiting for God to provide. We all know we live in a world that is filled with very impatient people.

More importantly, if lying is accepted as ok, what does this do to us when we are seeking the promise of His presence? I know Psalms is from the Old Testament but what does Psalm 15: 1, 4 mean when it says “Who may enter your [God’s] presence?…[those who] Keep your word even when it costs you.”

The whole book Good or God? is about the need for Christians to choose holiness over goodness. When a person lies it is a sin according to the Old Testament.

It is a sin in the New as well.

“Keep your word even when it costs you.”

Words to live by if you seek to live a holy life…

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