Today the news is full of stories about how PM Rudd admitted to telling a WHITE LIE to get out of a meeting with the corrupt and influential former Politician Brian Burke.
I’m not about to jump on my “high-horse” though. Most people can identify with the PM’s situation, and can recall times when we’ve made a similar decission. If Mr Rudd went the meeting with Brian Burke, it would have hurt his reputation. If he just told Brian Burke that he’d decided not to come, he would have insulted a man who had the power to mess up his political ambitions….
…the easiest way out? Tell a little white lie: that he had a meeting he couldn’t get out of.
So called “white lies” form a significant part of how our culture goes about avoiding difficult and awkward situations. White lies are a way we protect ourselves from either criticism or embarrassment. But should they be a part of a Christian’s conversation?
We often excuse them as insignificant, and sometimes even argue that they are a way of “protecting” others from the truth. But I think the two most common reasons for lying are FEAR and LAZINESS.
Often we will lie when we fear the response of others to something we have done or said. We fear anger, criticism or revenge, and so we avoid it by hiding the truth from others. But for the Christian it would be foolish to allow our fear of another person, to over-rule our fear of God: the One who loves truth. Rather than allowing our “fear” of other people to lead to lying, our “fear” or reverential honor of God should lead us to truth telling. In this case, our “lying” or our “truth telling” will tell us much about our love, or lack of love for God.
Another reason we lie is Laziness. Often we convince ourselves that we are lying for the good of the other person. But often it is simply because keeping the other person in ignorance of our true opinions is simply easier than gently and graciously giving a truthful answer. In this case we are opting-out of the difficult task of loving others with the truth. This of course is not the same as “speaking our minds”, which we can confuse with truthfulness. When we “speak our mind”, it often means that we are simply offering our opinions whether or not others really want to know.Speaking the Truth aims at loving the other person. Speaking our mind aims at imposing our opinions and taking center stage for ourselves.
Speaking the truth is also not the same as being blunt. It is easy to thoughtlessly blurt out the truth to someone. It is something quite different to commit to patiently and graciously help someone to hear the truth. It may take many discussions rather than one. The question to ask is this: are we helping someone move towards the truth, or confirming them in ignorance or falsehood so we can move on quickly?
To lie is to fear “men” rather than God, and to love ourselves in place of our neighbour.
God has given us the Spirit that we may declare the truth as His prophets did in the past. To lie as a Christian is to cast a dark shadow over everything we say… to use the one mouth to both lie and declare God’s praises, is to effectively put a big question mark beside the latter.