Ever since I was about 10 years old, honesty has been very important to me. If you haven’t read my background on the about page, I’m going to bring up a little of that in this post.
My father really disliked my mother and her side of my family. They didn’t like him much either. The two sides would battle by telling me bad things about the other, or insulting the other side. Both sides would say the other was lying. One of the things this taught me was the importance of telling the truth, because there was so much information being thrown out and I didn’t know what was true. Not knowing who to believe was very difficult on me.
After the event that made me decide not to see my father anymore at twelve, my mother started to gamble compulsively. Although the financial struggles were tough, the worst thing was the lies she told to cover up her addiction. She’d make up excuses like she hadn’t received her pay check yet, she had all of her money in her pocket and lost it at the store, she even said she lost her money feeding the ducks… Personally, I think she was too proud to admit the ducks mugged her, but that is beside the point. There were a lot of lies, and for every ridiculous lie there was a believable one I later found to be a lie.
The feeling of being lied to is a terrible feeling of betrayal, especially when it is someone you love. This experience has made me value honesty above all other qualities.
This brings me to the main question of this post: What does Jesus expect from us when it comes to being honest?
“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
“Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 19:17-19)
Jesus specifically calls out the commandment to not give false testimony when asked which commandments to keep.
Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” (Matthew 15:10-11)
“Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.” (Matthew 15:16-20)
Here Jesus again calls out false testimony, but this time he includes slander as well. Slander is a particularly harmful lie, as it isn’t just hurting the person you are lying to but also the person you are lying about.
Right now more than ever it’s important to make sure the things you are saying are truthful. Lying because you are misinformed, ill-informed, or mistaken is not a very good excuse. No matter how the lie comes about, it hurts you and those around you. Lies break trust, and trust is required for faith. The damage from spreading lies hurts the image of Christianity, thus hurting our mission. We must be vigilant when sharing any information about the bible or about life to make sure the things we say are factual and truthful.
As long as we are honest, people will hear us, people will trust us, and people will listen.