Before we look at what Max writes, let’s look at two verses:
Proverbs 23:7 (NIV) for he is the kind of person who is always thinking about the cost. "Eat and drink," he says to you, but his heart is not with you.
Proverbs 23:7 (NKJ) For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, But his heart is not with you.
Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
What is the meaning of “heart” ? Of course it’s not our physical heart. A compilation of commentators thinking is that’s the spiritual control center with the components of soul, mind, emotion, will and conscience. That’s why the Bible mentions the heart between 800-1,000 times. IT’S WHO WE REALLY ARE!
There are many views to the definition of truth and honesty. We have the ability to bend our own definition around the situation so that it fits our need at that time, situation ethics.
“There is no good reason to hurt his/her feelings so the situation calls for that “little white lie”. God understands there will be mitigating circumstances in which stretching the truth is necessary based on the situation so it’s not a sin. Really? Can you provide the scriptures that led you to that conclusion. But, it’s just good sense! Tell God about good sense. Intentions are the guiding factor. If your intentions are good and pure, you are OK. If your intentions are to deceive and gain from that white lie, then it’s not OK.” I’ve actually witnessed this debate in a Sunday school class. Neither side convinced the other. This article may or may not convince you either way.
Max writes about our legal system where we as witnesses are required to pledge to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If we do not tell the truth, the outcome of the trail will be tainted. More debate: “Yes, but there is no comparison between the two examples. In the above the situation, no one is hurt and the person is actually spared being emotionally hurt. At trail severe damage can happen. I completely understand your train of thought but aren’t we guilty of selective interpretation caused by situation ethics?”
Max points out that a witness in court eventually steps down from the witness chair but Christians never do: “For the Christian, deception is never an option. It wasn’t an option for Christ.” I Peter 2:22 "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth."
Look at Max’s points: “From Genesis to Revelation, the theme is the same: God loves the truth and hates deceit. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul lists the type of people who will not inherit the kingdom of God. The covey he portrays is a ragged assortment of those who sin sexually, worship idols, take part in adultery, sell their bodies, get drunk, rob people, and---there it is---lie about others.”
Max’s writes: “Such rigor may surprise you. You mean my fibbing and flattering stir the same heavenly anger as adultery and aggravated assault? Apparently so. God views fudging on income tax the same way he views kneeling before idols.”
The Lord hates those who tell lies but is pleased with those who keep their promises. Proverbs 12:22
The Lord hates…a lying tongue. Proverbs 6:16-17
Max continues: “Why? Why the hard line? Why the tough stance? Dishonesty is absolutely contrary to the character of God. According to Hebrews 16:18, it is impossible for God to lie. It’s not that God will not lie or that he has chosen not to lie---he cannot lie.”
“Satan, on the other hand, finds it impossible to tell the truth. According to Jesus, the devil is ‘the father of lies John 8:44” When we tell even a white lie, we are practicing the same ways of Satan.
The debate over whether telling white lies to save the feelings of another is a sin or not will live on forever. There are probably many husbands who saved their wives’ feelings by saying “ no, that brand new outfit does not make your rear end look big.” May have saved a marriage or two.
Let’s take a look at some more obvious examples of deceit from Max. “According to a Psychology Today survey, the devil is spinning webs, and we are still plucking fruit.
- More people say they have cheated on their marriage partner than on their tax returns or expense accounts
- More than half say that if their tax returns were audited, they would probably owe the government money.
- About one out of three people admits to deceiving a best friend about something within the last year; 96 percent of them feel guilty about it.
- Nearly half predict that if they scratched another car in the parking lot, they would drive away without leaving a note---although the vast majority (89 percent) agree that would be immoral.
Jeremiah 17:9 points out “The heart is deceitful above all things.”
Max says we do not always like the truth and backs that up with the story about a husband/wife phone conversation. The wife is about to board a plane home from Europe when she inquires about the cat. The husband bluntly replies that the cat is dead. The wife chastises the husband for being so honest and ruining her trip. She suggests he should have broken the news slowly. The initial response to the cat’s condition should be that he’s on the roof. When she called from Paris, tell her the cat is sluggish and then from London the cat is sick. Upon researching New York, the cat would be at the vet and finally when home, give her the bad news. The wife then asks how her mother is doing. After a long silence, the husband replies that her mom is on the roof.
Max believes that from an early age we found out that the truth will make us squirm. “Did you do that?” Pick whatever misdeed you want and our “heart” says tell them no and look like you mean it even if they saw you do it. Then we learn not to trust the truth because in Max’s words, “it seems inadequate to do what we need done.”
“We want our bosses to like us so flatter them which we call polishing the apple. We want people to admire us, so we exaggerate. We call it stretching the truth. We want people to respect us, so we live in houses we can’t afford and charge bills we can’t pay. We call it the American way. God calls all three a lie!”
Max writes about Ananias’ and Sapphira’s deceit. They told Peter and the apostles that they gave all the proceeds from a land sale to the church which in fact they gave only half the proceeds. They were struck dead not for withholding half the money but for their deceit. Deceit will not be punishable by death for us but can kill a marriage, kill a conscience by making the next lie easier to tell, or maybe even a career just ask the person who got fired for embezzlement. It can even kill our faith. “Those fluent in the language of falsehood find terms like confession and repentance hard to pronounce.”
Max writes: “Perhaps the most tragic death that occurs from deceit is our own witness. Do we think our coworkers will believe our words about Christ when they can’t even believe our words about how we handled our expense account?”
Max brings the study to a close with a challenge for us to examine our heart and ask our self some tough questions about our honesty in dealings. “Are you completely honest with everyone? Do you tell the truth…always?”
I want to ask one. You have a friend whose been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and has no family. Will he/she pick you as a conservator of their estate?
Just Like Jesus written by Max Lucado, Published by Word Publishing – 1998 – Used with permission
Have you ever willfully plan to commit a sin with the thought that later on you will confess and then ask for God’s forgiveness? How does God look at that? What do you think?