Words of Worth

Just the Facts, Ma’am

August 18, 2011

American author and humorist, Mark Twain, is well known for his pithy sayings that still capture the heart of American culture even by today’s standards. Consider this quote: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Let that sink in for a minute. What are the implications of that statement? Telling the truth guarantees no need to remember what you might have said because you only utter the facts of the situation.

Fast forward from the 1800’s when Twain was alive to May 2011 where one of the lead articles in the ethics section of the magazine Christianity Today was entitled “Lying is Bad”. Really? Do we, as Christians, need to be reminded that to tell a lie exhibits unacceptable behavior?

What exactly is a lie? An online dictionary defines it as, “a false statement made with the deliberate intent to deceive”. That hardly fits with our idea of what might be considered “little white lies”. But have we strayed so far from Truth we have trouble even recognizing it? No one wants to be considered a “liar” but the fact is we are all susceptible to exaggerating, avoiding certain details, or couching our words so we don’t offend. All these examples are deceit. Why then do we mislead others with our words when we are called to speak truth in love?

Consider this example from the article in Christianity Today. The author asserts that telling her husband she can accomplish something in a time frame that she knows is unrealistic which then causes her to be late in meeting him, is in fact, a lie. Now that’s cutting deep but recognizing this trait as a lie, she has taken measures to correct it.

If we really stopped, as commanded by that first gatekeeper we mentioned last week, “Is this true?”, and examined our words to others (or even to ourselves) how many of them would ring with the clear sound of truth? John 8:44 says, “Satan is the father of lies.” I don’t want my speech to be patterned after his. Instead, I want to “sound like” Jesus who is the way, the Truth and the Life.

The book of Proverbs is filled with admonitions about our speech and we don’t have to look very hard to see how God feels about lying. In Proverbs 6:16-19 it is very clearly stated that He hates a lying tongue, false witnesses, and anyone who spreads strife among his brothers. Yet, somehow we have allowed deceit be become commonplace; we barely even notice it.

What does this say about our hearts? How have they become so calloused to what’s pure and holy? Returning to the verse in Luke, we can easily see the answer. Instead of storing true words, we have stored evil ones. The old adage is right – “What’s down in the well comes up in the bucket.” If our words have trouble getting past the first gatekeeper, we must check the condition of our hearts. A healthier heart would certainly make that gatekeeper’s job much easier!

Wise words are true words. Are your words true? (CT)

“My mouth will utter truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.” Proverbs 8:7

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