I think that most of us grew up with parents and teachers who warned us about telling lies to others. And we learned quickly that when we did tell a lie (and were caught) we got in trouble.
One time I disobeyed my parents and went to the house of a friend of a friend, knowing that I didn’t have permission. Sure enough, at that house we all misbehaved, and then I tried lying to my parents to cover it up.
They found out, and I got in double trouble!
I did learn, however, over time that honesty is the best policy. When I scratched my dad’s car with the lawnmower, I confessed during dinner that evening. I didn’t get in trouble, because it was an accident and my dad appreciated my honesty.
A bigger mistake
I also think that not many of us grew up learning that one of the biggest mistakes we can make is lying to ourselves.
But we do this every day, many times a day, and these lies get us in big, big trouble.
- The middle schooler believes her own lies that she’s worthless—a nobody.
- A man having an affair convinces himself that he deserves it and it’s not hurting anybody.
- Someone embezzling from the company to pay off big debt rationalizes that nobody will notice and they need it more desperately.
- Everyday incidents like interacting with others in traffic, getting stuck at the back of a slow moving line at the store, even our choices about entertainment, alcohol, social media and wherever else we click online.
We are so good at lying to ourselves that we have taught ourselves not to detect it. We rationalize dangerous and sinful behavior. We dismiss and minimize bad habits. We neglect hurting and broken relationships. And we’re okay with it.
A better way
When Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6), he gave us a promise, and also a prohibition. He is not allowing any kind of lying to get us closer to God. Including lying to ourselves. It only distances us from God, perhaps drifting slowly over time, or perhaps a downfall with a big crash.
But Jesus promises a better way. When we trust him, follow him, and live in the grace of his forgiveness we will strive for truth. We will repent of our lying tendencies.
And as we seek to conform to the way and truth and life of Jesus, he will give it freely. Even before we achieve perfect behavior. So replace lying to yourself with faith in Jesus, that loves him and his ways.
Instead of trouble, you will find the blessing of a better, richer, and more abundant life.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I desperately need you and your truth in my life, to keep me from lying to myself. More than that, to gain my trust that your truth and your ways promise me a better, richer life. In your mercy, help me conform my thinking to your divine truth and walk in it. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: The Bible describes those pursuing their own version of the truth (believing lies instead of God’s truth) in this way: “their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:20). Futile. Foolish. These are not the outcomes we hope for in life. To avoid these outcomes, we need to change our minds and hearts. This change is a gift from God!