Exodus 20:16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
Would anyone agree that telling lies is a good thing? Nobody wants to be called a “liar”. Those are fighting words for most people. I would assert even atheists think telling the truth, for the most part, is a good thing. Although why they think this I don’t know because without God’s command there is no basis for truth telling.
God’s Word tells us repeatedly to tell the truth, and in fact it’s such a serious matter that it’s one of the seven things that are an abomination to God.
Proverbs 6:16-17 These six thing the LORD hates, yes seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue…
Ephesians 4:29-31 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth… Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
Paul tells us that it is contrary to sound doctrine (1 Timothy 1:10). There is no doubt God hates lying.
Does anyone disagree?
I’m here to tell you today that we need to reform in this area of truth telling. I know most of you are probably thinking, “I don’t lie”, at least not on purpose. I think there is a very insidious way in which Satan deceives us into lying and allows us to wrap ourselves in our own righteous. It’s called exaggeration. It’s a subtle but evil form of speaking to your neighbor.
Here’s an example from my own life.
I return from a hard week of work and say, “Oh I’m so tired I put in 40 hours of work in 3 days”. In reality I did work hard and I am tired but the exaggeration comes in the form of the “stretch” of how many hours I actually worked. I might have been awake and actually doing something for 40 hours over the course of those 3 days but I wasn’t working the entire time.
In the business I work we get up early. I may actually have worked 38 hours but there is always the pull to exaggerate, even slightly, to the amount of time or the amount of effort that was exerted.
I want to seriously ask myself this question, why would I do that? If I’m telling someone about my long work days do they really care whether it was 40 hours or 38 hours; of course not, but in my mind that sounds more dramatic. I have the tendency to think of myself a higher opinion. “Boy I really did something this weekend!” “Aren’t I special?”
I’m a legend in my own mind…
Don’t we all do this? Tell the truth… You know you do this and so do I.
I have a good friend that is an extraordinarily hard working guy. I don’t distrust him when it comes to his work ethic or his ability to tell me the truth. Yet he’s an exaggerator. He has some liberty with the amount of emails sent in a day or the time he arises each morning and goes to bed each night to accomplish his tasks. Again, I don’t distrust his work ethic but why the embellishment?
I know he’s busy, I know he works hard. But did he really send out 100 emails today or was it more like 60? I’m easily impressed so whether it was 40, 60 or 800 in a day I’m going to think he’s pretty special at his job. He has my respect without the exaggeration.
God thought this was important enough to include this in the top 10 of Christianity (Exodus 20:1-17). This word “false” holds a very deep meaning.
From H8266; an untruth; by implication a sham (often adverbially): – without a cause, deceit (-ful), false (-hood, -ly), feignedly, liar, + lie, lying, vain (thing), wrongfully.
Notice how it says adverbially. I really like this because it shows us how we use “verbal exclamations” to spin our lies in the form of exaggerations and all along it’s meant to deceive. And then it goes on to tell us “without a cause”, there’s no reason for it. Please let that sink in for a moment. You have no reason to stretch that truth. It does not profit you. Ultimately it harms your credibility.
This article is meant to reform the minds and hearts of Bible believing Christians. I don’t expect it will have any effect on the unregenerate but if God wills it might show someone their sin. If you are a chronic liar you need to repent and turn from this abominable sin. If you are just an exaggerator you need to repent and turn from this abominable sin.
Although I’d like to develop some other thoughts, that might have to be another day, but some common expressions Believers should not utilize are verbal exclamations such “I swear to God” or “I swear”, see Matthew 5:33-36. You should never have to “convince” someone you are a truth teller.
We should also eliminate words like “honestly”, or “to be honest with you”… This would indicate at other times you are dishonest. As we begin to consider the meaning of our words and how important the words we use, we can become better communicators and better ambassadors for Christ.
Ephesians 4:14-15 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head Christ…
This is the ultimate goal, to no longer be children, we need to put aside the elementary principles of Christianity and “grow up”; for the glory of the One that deserves obedience and truth telling.
7 thoughts on “…Pants on fire”
Thanks for the challenge Kevin. There is certainly a temptation to exaggerate to make myself look better. Sometimes I can even tell the truth, but simply sharing the information was merely to boast about myself. This isn’t to condemn sharing with friends and loved ones what’s going on in your life to relate and build relationship, but we must always guard ourselves and keep a close watch on our life and doctrine.
Side question for you, do you see all exaggerations, and other forms of literary tools as wrong inherently, or more so the motive behind the usage of the literary tools which deem it right or not?
I had a couple goals when I first started writing this blog. The first goal was to write most of these posts to myself. To consistently preach the gospel to “me”. So I often include myself as the target audience but of course I’m hopeful others might benefit either through sanctification or possibly salvation should the Lord be willing.
Recently I was asked by our elders to define my audience. I really had to think about that for a while and as I thought through it I was directed back to my original goals. Preach to myself and edify the saints. I also want to consistently proclaim the gospel. So the challenges are always directed back to myself first and foremost.
As for all forms of exaggeration being wrong or sin, I don’t see that. I think a certain amount of hyperbole is permitted and can be very effective. I believe scripture utilizes hyperbole from time to time. Isaiah 55:12.
We can also use metaphors as a sort of verbal exclamations and I’m sure there are other forms that I’m not well versed in. Jesus used metaphors such as describing himself as the door of the sheep pen in John 10.
My main concern, as I expect you have discerned, is focused on the heart. When we consistently exaggerate to make a point or embellish to puff ourselves up then we’ve crossed the line into sinful behavior. Again, the heart is always the issue. Certainly not in a legalistic way, which says if I don’t do this I’m right with God, but out of loving obedience to honor Him by speaking concisely and accurately.
::KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK:: Are there any jews hiding in your attic?
What would your answer be?
A little paraphrasing from ecclesiastes:
Or will it be are there any Christians in your attic?
Luke 12:11-12 “Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
Way to miss the point.
Nope. Understood your point perfectly.