The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth.
- Proverb 12:22
I am really good at lying. Not because I am an actress but because I only lie about 'small' things. For example, if something cost me $20, I might say it was only $15, because I think $15 sounds like a better deal. Or maybe I spent a little too long surfing the internet so I didn't get to a chore that I intended to do, and rather than own up to my waste of time, I say my errands took longer than expected.
I call these lies 'small', but really, they are stupid. A difference of $5 is a worthless amount to bother lying about. And, unless I was engaged in some illicit video watching, is it really so bad that I caught up on blog-reading instead of cleaned the kitchen?
The problem is, little lies are easy to tell. They seem harmless, even meaningless. But being willing to lie, at all, demonstrates something much bigger about my character. First, it proves that I do actually care what people think of me. I lie because I want to appear better than I really am. I lie to others because I have believed the lie that my true self is not good enough to be shared and instead, must be masked by some false 'better' image. Lying demonstrates that I fear not being accepted for who I am.
Second, when I lie, I intentionally deceive another person. I choose, for what I think will be to my personal advantage, to convince others to believe something that is untrue, This makes me selfish and untrustworthy. That is a big deal.
Most importantly, when I lie repeatedly about small things, I begin to persuade myself that I'm not doing anything wrong. This makes it easier to lie about bigger things until, eventually, I don't realize the error of those lies either. And then I open myself up to any kind of deception, any potential choice to hide truth and live a duplicitous lifestyle. That is frightening.
Most people do not wake up one morning and decide to enter into a sexual affair. It takes many daily small decisions, many daily small moral concessions, many daily small lies, to inch oneself closer to that one big bad action. Most of those daily 'small' choices are invisible but they build a foundation that makes it easy to cross over the visibility line. This is why it is ridiculous to ask someone who's had an affair, "what were you thinking?" Because the truth is, she needed to be asked that question 100 days earlier, when she received a flirtatious text message and responded in 'harmless' jest. By the time the 'innocent' conversations reached the point of physical consummation, the person isn't thinking like a rational moral being because she's long since convinced herself that she's not doing anything wrong.
This is what the author of the letter to the Hebrew church means when he writes, "You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God." When I lie, I not only deceive others, but I deceive myself. And that is the most dangerous deception of all because without a right perception of my self, without a true knowledge of the ethics of my choices, how can I be a responsible, reliable, rational and worthy wife? mother? friend? leader? How long will it take me, in my deceived state, to reject even God?
So I need to fight the lies. I need to reject the lie that I have to present something other than the truth about myself. I need to tell people that I struggle in this area so that they will warn me against it and call me out on it. I need to pray HARD that I will remember that telling a lie about $5 is a small step away from having an affair.
Consider this your invitation, at any time, to ask me if I am telling you the absolute truth. Demand nothing less of me. It may save our friendship, my marriage, my parenting, my ministry -- my life.