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...they have stolen, they have lied… - Joshua 7:11 (NIV)
The final frontier of character is eroding in America these days—the frontier of honesty. Scott taught about that in his sermon Sunday. We’ll continue the theme in our devos this week. Ultimately, we are nothing without character, and few things negatively impact our character as much as playing fast and loose with the truth.
The ninth commandment explicitly forbids lying, yet we seem to embrace it more than denounce it in America these days. Rather than calling our mistruths “sin,” we tend to say things like: “Oh, I just misspoke,“ or “Everybody does it!” But what “everybody” does is a paltry measure of integrity. Is there anyone among us who doesn’t remember hearing a parent say, “If everyone else walked off a cliff, would you?” The point being that character is the sum of our own choices, and usually it’s best measured by what we are when we’re all alone and no one is looking.
It’s interesting how we use euphemisms to diminish our lies. We say, “It’s just a little white lie,” or “I told a little fib,” or “I might’ve embellished the truth just a tad,” or “I told a little story.” When was the last time you ever heard anyone say, “I admit it. I told a bold-faced lie!” I heard one wag say, “Well, if you know you’re lying and God knows you’re lying, it’s the same as telling the truth because two negatives make a positive, ha!” But friends, there's nothing positive about lying— ever.
Proverbs 6:16–19 begins thusly, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him.” We call these the “seven deadly sins.” Did you know that lying is mentioned twice in the list? Words matter, friends, especially truthful words. That’s what prompted Jesus to say, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” You can read that story here. It’s part of a really great sermon.
Oh, while you’re at it, check out the story of Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, in Acts 5. God struck both of them dead for one “little” lie about how much money they gave to the church. Peter rebuked them for it and the deacons toted two corpses out the door. It’s no wonder the next verse says, “...and great fear seized the whole church.” Yep, you betcha!