TELLING THE TRUTH
10 Healthy Habits for Building Strong Families ❧ Part 14
Exodus 20:16 ❧ May 1, 2022
This morning we’re going to look at the ninth commandment in God’s Ten Commandments: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (Exodus 20:16). God tells us in no uncertain terms, we’re not to bear false witness against others. The immediate context of this verse is a court of law where justice cannot be carried out unless the witness tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Unfortunately, many of our courts of law have become more interested in manipulating truth rather than maintaining truth. They do so at their own peril. No nation, however great, can survive contempt for the truth. But our courts are hardly alone. This verse doesn’t apply only to the court room, it applies as well to every area of our lives.
Recently I read about a man who was overpaid, but he decided not to say anything. The next week when he got his check, he noticed the amount that he’d been overpaid the week before was deducted from it. But this time, he complained to the accountant. When the accountant asked him why he didn’t complain the week before, the man said, I can overlook one error, but when it happens two times in a row, it’s time to complain!
Why is dishonesty so rampant in our culture? The reason is because it runs deeper than our culture, it’s in our nature. Dr. Leonard Keeler, the man who invented the Lie Detector Test, interviewed some 25,000 people, and concluded that people are basically dishonest. Why is that? Dishonesty is bigger than our culture, it’s the nature of fallen humanity. The Bible says that when you and I ask the Lord Jesus Christ to come into our lives, we receive a new nature, one from God. One that doesn’t lie, doesn’t cheat, doesn’t steal. The problem is we continue to lie, cheat, and steal. Why is that? Because even though we’ve been given a new nature, we have to learn how to grow up in it.
This morning we’re going to look at two important questions about telling the truth. First, why is it many of us struggle to tell the truth? Second, what are the benefits of telling the truth? Why do we struggle to tell the truth?
- We’re afraid. We’re afraid telling the truth will do more harm than good. We feel it’s too
risky to tell the truth, so we lie. Abraham did this when he lied to king Abimelech telling the king that Sarah, Abraham’s wife, was his sister. Genesis 20 says, Abraham said, “Because I thought, surely there is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife(Genesis 20:11). Abraham lied because he was afraid for his own life. His lie soon came unraveled putting him in the very danger he tried to avoid. God spoke in a dream to king Abimelech revealing that Sarah was actually Abraham’s wife and that Abimelech was not to touch her. Why did God expose Abraham’s lie? Because God was showing Abraham the importance of telling the truth even when you’re afraid. God wanted Abraham’s trust in Him to be greater than his fear of man. The Bible says, The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me? (Hebrews 13:6). Many of us can relate to Abraham. We’ve found ourselves in a conundrum and have tried lie our way out of it. It never works. Fear often seems like the easy way out, but it only makes matters worse.
- We’re unsure. We feel uncertain how to tell the truth. Elihu, one of Job’s young friends struggled
with this after hearing others explain to Job the reason he’d suffered such great loss was because of his own sin. So Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite spoke out and said, “I am young in years and you are old; therefore I was shy and afraid to tell you what I think (Job 32:6).Sometimes we feel inadequate to know how to tell the truth, so we don’t.
- We’re conflicted. We want to tell the truth, but we’re troubled how the other person will receive it.
Samuel, one of Israel’s greatest judges, was faced with this painful task as a young boy. God shared with Samuel He was about to judge Eli for his failure to discipline his two sons for their evil behavior. Shouldered with the task of being the bearer of bad news, Samuel was deeply troubled. It says,But Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli (1 Sa 3:15).
Telling a lie because we’re afraid for our own safety, we’re unsure, feel inadequate to speak truth into a situation, or are conflicted knowing the pain it will bring another are just some of the reasons we give into the temptation to lie instead of telling the truth.
The bottom line is that no matter how harmless or even helpful a lie may seem, a lie is still a lie. It is saying something is true that isn’t. The Bible is very clear about this. Jesus said in John 8 that the father of lies is Satan (John 8:44). Every time we tell a lie, we’re acting like the devil. Every time we tell the truth, we’re acting like our Heavenly Father whose image we’re made in. This is especially true when it comes to the ninth commandment, You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor, because most of our lying centers around bearing a false witness either about ourselves or someone else. What are the benefits of telling the truth?
- It produces maturity. Telling the truth makes us grow up. It forces us to face issues in our
lives that we would otherwise avoid. We have to begin here if we’re going to really deal with honesty in our lives. We have to first learn to be honest with ourselves. Edward White Benson,How desperately difficult it is to be honest with oneself. It is much easier to be honest with other people.
People who are mature inside and out, as a rule, are honest about themselves. No pretense. No veneer. No wrapping. They’re believable. What you see is what you get. They are in a word – real.
We have a tendency to avoid being real in our lives, avoid facing the honest truth about ourselves. We distance ourselves from reality by filling our lives with busyness, activity, things that keep us from facing the real you. We’re afraid of the pain it may bring. If we’re not careful, we can use our Christianity as a spiritual camouflage to hide behind. We learn new words that sound like we’re being honest, but deep down, we’re avoiding reality. The price we pay is that we never learn what it means to be loved for who we really are. We’re never comfortable with being, we’re always doing.
One of my favorite children’s stories is The Velveteen Rabbit. It’s a story with a message that gets to the heart of being real. One day two toy animals are having a discussing with one another about what it means to be real. One is a new toy rabbit, and the other is an old skin horse. Rabbit asks the horse: “What does it mean to be REAL? Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?” “Real isn’t how you are made” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become real. “Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit. “Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. When you are Real, you don’t mind being hurt. . . . It doesn’t happen all at once. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all because once you are real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
The Skin horse is saying, be honest about yourself. Take a good look at who you are. Are you filling your life with things that keep you from being real? You don’t grow until you become real with yourself. But you desire honesty from the heart, so you can teach me to be wise in my inmost being(Ps. 51:6, NLT).
- It protects relationships. An honest answer is a sign of a true friendship (Prov. 24:26). Honest
people will live in his presence(Psalms 140:13b, NCV). It’s here that I want to deal with a form of honesty that can only be true in a Christian’s life. The Bible tells us that as believers we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. That if we know the Lord, His grace is sufficient for us, His power if perfected in our weakness. We share the very nature of God. God has placed His power in our lives to be and to do what we could never do on our own. The moment I give my life to Christ, something happens. Somehow, I am filled with the very power of God to love in a way I couldn’t love before, to forgive in a way I couldn’t forgive before, to understand in a way I could never understand before. But that power is set into action by a choice between two words: “I can’t,” or “I won’t.”
The old nature, the old way of life, says “I can’t” and rightfully so. “I just can’t get along with my wife. My husband and I can’t communicate. I can’t forgive her. I can’t understand him. I can’t stop acting this way. I can’t seem to change. We can’t love, we can’t forgive, we can’t understand with the old nature. It’s a valid excuse. But when God gave us a new nature, we can no longer say, “I can’t.” We are forced to say, “I won’t.” There are no more excuses. That’s the truth about honesty.
In their book Happiness Is A Choice, Christian counselors Minirith and Meier say they always cringe when they here Christian patients use the word “I can’t.” “Any good psychiatrist knows that “I can’t” and “I’ve tried” are merely lame excuses. We insist that our patients be honest with themselves and us the language that expresses the reality of the situation. So we have our patients change their “cant’s” to “wont’s”…If an individual changes his cant’s to wont’s, he stops avoiding the truth, quits deceiving himself, and starts living in reality.” I won’t get along with my wife. I won’t forgive her. My husband and I won’t communicate. I won’t understand him. I won’t change.
Honesty protects our relationships only when we’re willing to take responsibility for our own feelings and surrender them to God’s power. As long as you say, “I can’t”, you’re not being honest with yourself or owning the responsibility and power God has given you to change.
- It promotes confidence. The nice thing about telling the truth is you don’t have to worry
about having a good memory. If you lie, you have to remember what you said to each person you shared it with. Lying always destroys relationships, invites disappointment, ruins our lives. When we lie it’s like building a house of cards; always insecure, ready to come crashing down with the slightest disturbance.
There is a security standing on the truth. The wicked flee when no one is chasing them! But the godly are bold as lions!(Proverbs 28:1). Telling the truth gives a man great satisfaction(Proverbs 12:14, NLT). Telling the truth brings satisfaction builds on a foundation of trust. The more we tell the truth in our relationships, the more satisfying our relationships. Charles Gordon wrote, If you tell the truth, you have infinite power supporting you; but if not, you have infinite power against you.
What are the benefits of telling the truth? It produces maturity, protects relationships, and it promotes confidence.
The truth is all of us are law breakers when it comes to God’s ninth commandment; we’ve all lied. In fact, the Bible says if we’ve broken one commandment, we’re guilty of breaking them all. For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws (James 2:10). There are only two kinds of people that make it to Heaven, perfect people and forgiven people. As I see it, none of us here are perfect. The Bible says all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. No exceptions. Our only hope of getting to Heaven is forgiveness. How can we know God’s forgiveness? By placing our trust fully in Jesus Christ who died on the cross taking the penalty of our sins on Himself. Jesus didn’t have to die for us. He chose to because He loves us and wants us to know His forgiveness.