If your lying, your lying. – John Maxwell.
I vaguely remember being awakened by a noise as a small child. It was near Christmas time, so I immediately assumed that it must be Santa bringing us gifts. Although I was pretty excited about this possibility, I was more afraid than anything. So, I did what any kid would do; I tucked myself tightly under the blankets and went back to sleep. The next morning, I wanted to tell my mom about the exciting news, however, I realized that she might not believe it was Santa based on a noise. So, I decided that the story might need some embellishment to convince her it was true. Instead of telling her that I just heard a noise that had to be Santa, I told my mom that I had clearly seen Santa walking in the house. What was the harm? After all, it was Santa and he obviously did walk through the house. For whatever reason, she still didn’t seem to believe me.
Most people, at some point, have taken “liberties” with stories they tell, or with information that they pass on. The media is often accused of this, but I am convinced that most people practice this to some degree. If you don’t believe me, go look at some of the Facebook “news” posts that people share—many of them are about as factual and rational as the old Weekly World News updates on the “Bat Child”. Shouldn’t we be concerned about how common this had become? As a Christian pastor, I'm even more concerned with how common this is with Christians—you know, those who claim to serve the God who called Himself, “The truth and the life” (John 14:6).
One of the ten commandments tells us, “Do not give false testimony against your neighbor.” (Ex. 20:16) When we say something about someone that is not true, we give false testimony. When we say something about someone, even an enemy, that is embellished or skewed to fit our agenda, we give false testimony. When we share information, a post, or an accusation about someone that is not true, we become the darkness that hides truth—especially when we do it in the name of Jesus!
Paul warns against deception in the name of God. He writes to the church in Galatia:
You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be. (NIV Galatians 5:7-10).
While Paul is directly speaking against the deception of the Judaizers (those who demand circumcision and other Jewish laws be kept), the principle of this passage applies to any deception that we speak in the name of Jesus. There is no lie that can be of more benefit than it is harmful. No matter how small or insignificant we think an embellishment might be, it contains the power to “work through the whole batch of dough” and destroy any reasonable trust someone might have had in us.
If we claim to be Christians and yet we embellish the truth—or allow a lie to go on—we give false testimony about God. What is so disturbing, is how prevalent it really is in our world today. Sharing a lie, or an embellishment, or whatever you want to call it, to defend your agenda is not Christ-like at all—it is faithless, at best, and evil in application.
As Christians, we need to be a people who realize the value of truth so much that we are absolutely convicted of protecting it with integrity. Listen, God doesn’t need you to defend Him. He’s a big boy. If you feel your god needs you to protect him, then you serve a false god. The God of the Bible, the one true God, is truth. Jesus came to give witness to truth (John 18:37), shouldn’t we do the same?
Think about what you say, or claim, before your do so—it matters. Check the information you share, before you do so—it matters. Be sure that you have your facts straight and that you are only sharing truths, not embellished interpretations—it matters. You’d be amazed at how much more powerful truths are than propaganda. Trust in God, trust in the truth—it’s the only thing that will set us free.
Grafted by His Grace,
Pastor Raul Granillo