I have a memory of the first time I was faced with a decision to tell the truth. There was a shower mat in the bathroom that my sister and I shared. Somewhere along the way, the suction cups at the bottom of the mat had mysteriously begin disappearing and it didn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out that either me or my sister had begun pulling them off. Because the memory sticks out so clearly in my head and because I can get bored easily, I think it was probably me. The strange thing about the memory is I’m not completely sure what I said although my guess is that I probably tried to skirt the truth for as long as I could. I think I eventually confessed, but if not, I guess now I have. What I do remember is the sense of importance that I felt was attached to the decision to the the truth or to lie. It’s a moment that comes back to me every time negating the truth seems like the easier option.
Since that moment, I’ve been what many people might consider a staunch defender of the truth. I take deception rather personally, probably more so than I should for ultimately its God that’s grieved as a result, not me. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned that truth-telling needs to be coupled with discretion, but that truth and justice always stand on the same side. Being vulnerable and being willing to admit things that inconveniently mar the image that we’ve established for ourselves is the shortest path to humility. And humility is necessary to serve God.
What I’ve also learned though is that un-truths are never isolated events. The telling of a lie creates a phenomenon where un-truths are multiplied, sometimes quite unconsciously as people believe that the information we’ve passed on to them is true and they share it with others or make decisions on its basis. Any compromise of God’s law has its price and the price of a lie is often the destruction of relationship. Truth is necessary for trust. Without either, relationships fail.
The good news is that God has made a way that despite our compromises of truth, we can be reconciled to the Truth. In this forgiveness, we find the ability to restore relationships with one another because we recognize that we’ve offended the perfect God to a far greater degree than someone else could ever offend us. This truth may destroy our self-inflated ego, but the peace of reconciliation is worth it.
The truth is often inconvenient to our objectives and our desires, but its never so to God’s. Maybe if we trust His ways a little more we wouldn’t find telling the truth quite so inconvenient.