This last year I read a book by Jordan Peterson called “The 12 Rules For Life”. It’s an interesting read on many levels but one of the rules that he espouses has really stuck with me. That is: Always Tell The Truth Or At Least Don’t Lie.
I think that this rule or idea has enormous implications. For everyone in every context.
Now, it seems simple enough. After all as a Christian am I not to always be honest as it were? Well yes. In fact “don’t lie” is one of the ten commandments. It’s one of the basic rules for almost any moral code, scriptural or otherwise. But for something so simple we aren’t very good at it.
I’ve been thinking about this for months. There are all sorts of questions. Why do we lie? Is there a difference between always telling the truth and not lying? Is it ever ok to lie? What if my life, or someone else’s life is on the line? Do I have to tell everyone the truth . . . at all times? Who lies to me? What lies to I believe? Why is it that we can’t follow this simple straightforward command?
As I said, I think the implications of this are everywhere so let me offer here and in a couple of upcoming posts, a few thoughts and conclusions I’ve come to.
First, we all lie and we’ve all been lied to. Every.Single.One.Of.Us.
I don’t care what your context is. Your age. Your marital status. Your career. I’ve been lied to at one time or another by friends, family, people I worked for, people that worked for me, pastors, women, men, kids, you name it. And I’ve probably lied to all of those groups at one point or another.
But why do we lie? There are obviously many motivations for lying. But here is the one that has been most in my thoughts. We lie to either protect or justify ourselves. We made a decision. We need a reason. We know the actual reason, but we know the reason won’t help us. So we make one up. We don’t want to get in trouble. We don’t want to deal with something. We don’t want to own something. We don’t like the consequences. So we lie.
You know another word for lying? Rationalizing. If this whole time you’ve been thinking, “well not me. . . I don’t lie”, now I’ve got you.
All of us lie to at least two people. We lie to God and we lie to ourselves. And in that is where, if I want to grow and be virtuous, I have to start not lying first. We think it’s an easy commandment. But it’s not. None of them are easy. That’s why none of us can keep them in our natural state.
Why didn’t I do what I said I would? Why don’t I work out? Why didn’t I go to that ministry event? Why didn’t I go up and talk to the girl? Why didn’t I pray today? Why didn’t I get that assignment done? Why is my dating life or marriage not what I want it to be? Why do I never get promoted? I could go on and on.
We lie so easily to ourselves that we don’t even realize we are doing it half the time. It happens so fast, without much consideration as we move effortlessly onto the next subject, event, or task. But that doesn’t make it not a lie.
The worst part is that because lying is a sin it has consequences. Every time. Even when I lie to myself. That’s right, lying to myself is a sin. Seriously. Think about it.
So the challenge is this: Stop Lying. Or at least try to stop lying. Lie less.
I would suggest most important is to stop lying to God and then start trying to not lie to yourself.
Stop lying to God. All it does is keep distance between you and Him. Lies always do that – they create separation. I mean He knows you’re lying, even if you don’t. If you want to grow closer to God, one way to do that is stop lying or rationalizing to Him.
Stop lying to yourself. That’s probably not realistic. Maybe pick one thing you are going to stop lying to yourself about. That would be a good starting point. What’s one thing that if you really got down to it, you’re lying to yourself.
Now this can be scary. Because if I stop the lie that means that I’ll have to face the truth. But my encouragement is this: if you tell yourself the truth there is hope. Hope because once you acknowledge the truth you can do something about it. You can act on it. You can change it or at least deal with it. Especially if you take it honestly to God at the same time.
So for today let me leave you with this. What is one lie you keep telling yourself? What about the truth are you afraid of? What would it look like to engage the reality instead of the lie?