Lie: An untrue statement made deliberately. To give a false impression (Webster)
The Lies We Tell (a partial list) Mark Twain said there are 869 different kind of lies. I don’t know about that but there are lots of ways to not tell the truth. Here are a few:
- Exaggeration: To represent as greater than actually is
Or in relationships we blow out of proportion. Statements like: You always make a mess” “You never…” Each time we tell that fish story the fish gets bigger and bigger.
Our motive: try to inflate our low self-image or our case, make ourselves look better.
In 1993 the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey ran a help wanted ad in the paper. They advertised for electricians with expertise at using Sontag connectors. The ad got 170 responses even though there is no such thing as a Sontag connector. The Authority ran the ad to find out how many applicants falsify resumes.
- Excuse: Misrepresenting the truth about a failure on my part.
There’s a story of friends decided to go for a drive instead of showing up to class on time. When they did arrive, the girls explained to the teacher they had had a flat tire. The teacher accepted the excuse, much to the girls’ relief. “Since you missed this morning’s quiz, you must take it now,” she said. “Please sit in the four corner seats in this room without talking.” When they were seated, the teacher said, “On your paper write the answer to one question: ’Which tire was flat?’
Our motive: to get out of consequences for our mistakes
- Silence: Deception by remaining silent when I should have spoken.
Just by silently listening to people say things about another person that you know are not true and not speaking up and coming to their defense is to bear false witness.
- White Lie: Perceived as good for both teller and the victim of the lie.
“Do you like this dress?” “Yes” when you don’t.
Our motive: Disrespect, (they can’t handle the truth) laziness, we don’t want to explain.
Famous American Fibs
– The check is in the mail.
– I’ll start my diet tomorrow.
– We service what we sell.
– Give me your number and the doctor will call you right back.
– Money cheerfully refunded.
– One size fits all.
– Your luggage isn’t lost, it’s only misplaced.
– Leave your resume and we’ll keep it on file.
– I just need a few seconds of your time.
– This will be a short meeting
– Your table will be ready in a few minutes.
– Open wide, it won’t hurt a bit.
– Let’s have lunch sometime. (Bits & Pieces, December 9, 1993, pp. 12-13.)
- Slander: Misrepresenting the truth with the intention to hurt someone.
This reminds me of a lady who was very resentful and bitter toward the new young minister in her church, so she shared with a few women falsely that he was having an affair with one of the young married ladies in the congregation. Of course, like all gossip the false rumors spread throughout the church and the community.
Once confronted by the minister, the young lady and her husband about the lie she admitted her sin, repented and asked for forgiveness.
However, to make his point to the woman about the damage she had caused the minister said, he had one condition she must fulfill.
He said, “Take a bag of feathers and release them from the bell tower on a windy day.” Then the next day, go around the town and pick up every feather.” She said, “there’s no way to get every feather.” The minister said, “The same is true when you speak falsely about another person.”
Our motive: Hurt another. Make our self look better
6. Gossip: Telling information about someone that is not first hand.
7. Half lie: Telling the truth, but not the whole truth. Half-truth is a whole lie.
8. Spin: Retelling facts to my favor, ignoring or downplaying facts
I heard about a teen age boy who was supposed to be home at midnight and came in at two a.m. in the morning, but everyone was asleep. He crept up the stairs and as he did so he hit a stair that squeaked and his dad woke up. “Is that you Bobby?” “Yes.” “What time is it?” Before he could say a word the coo-coo clock struck twice. He said it was the most ingenious moment of my life when I stood there a coo-cooed ten more times.
- Deception: Statement(s) intended to deceive (even the truth)
A school principal received a phone call. The voice said, “Thomas Bradley won’t be in school today.” The principal was a bit suspicious of the voice. He asked, “Who is speaking?” The voice came back, “My father.” –James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 288.
We could make a truthful statement, but say it in a way that you deceive another person. Pastor Adrian Rogers tells of a time when he was driving home with full knowledge of a burned out headlight. He was pulled over by a policemen who asked, “Did you know your headlight is out?” Wanting to avoid a ticket he raised his eyebrows and in a surprised tone said, “My headlight is burned out?” He says, the officer let him go with a warning, but God did not.
- Flattery: Telling what another wants to hear, but I don’t believe.
Insincere praise: saying something to someone’s face that you wouldn’t think of saying behind their back. To a woman’s face you say, “That’s the prettiest dress I have ever seen!” but behind her back you would say, “She looked like a mess in that dress!” Or to your minister you might say, “Wonderful sermon, pastor.” but in the car on the way home you would say, “That’s the most boring thing I have ever heard.”
This reminds me of a story about two brothers who were well-known in their community to be two of the most evil men in the entire county. They were cruel, abusive, and involved in just about every kind of crime from gambling, to drugs, etc. But they had lawyers who were more than capable of twisting the truth to help them avoid prosecution. One day one of the brothers died. And his surviving sibling went to see the pastor of the local church to ask him to do the funeral. He said, “Reverend I will write your church a check right now for one million dollars. All you have to do is promise to say at the funeral that my brother was a saint.” Now, he was asking this pastor to lie about his brother, to share false compliments, insincere flattery, in his funeral message — but the pastor accepted the check and agreed. Finally the day of the funeral dawned and the pastor stepped to the pulpit. Then with great conviction, He said, “This man in the casket before you was one of the most cruel men I have ever known. He was a liar and a thief. He had his filthy hands into just about every kind of crime you can think…but…compared to his brother….He was a saint.”
- Hypocrisy: Attempts to deceive another about something I am not
A pastor announced one Sunday that next Sunday he was going to preach on lying. And as preparation for the message he wanted the congregation to read the 17th chapter of Mark. The next Sunday the preacher began by asking those who read the 17th chapter of Mark to raise their hands. More than ½ of the people raised their hands. “Very good,” the preacher said. “You are the very people I need to speak to. There is no 17th chapter of Mark.”
In Boston a minister noticed a group of boys standing around a small stray dog. “What are you doing, boys?” “Telling lies,” said one of the boys. “The one who tells the biggest lie gets the dog.” “Why, when I was your age,” the shocked minister said, “I never ever thought of telling a lie.” The boys looked at one another, a little crestfallen. Finally one of them shrugged and said, “I guess he wins the dog.” –James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 287.
Let’s end with another survey. How many of us have been hurt by someone’s lie? How many of us get angry when lied to? In theory we all agree that honesty is the best policy. But how do we learn to consistently tell the truth? According to Jesus we need to know where the lies begin.
Jesus said, “For out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, lying and slander.” Matthew 15:19. The heart of the issue when it comes to lying is an issue of the heart. This is the problem. If I am going to live as an honest person, I have to deal not with what I say, but with what motivates me to lie. My grandfather had two open heart surgeries to address his physical heart problems. I needed spiritual heart surgery that Jesus offers: “If anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation.” 2 Cor. 5:17. My heart is under construction by the great physician.
We should all pray as David did, “Create in me a pure heart, oh God.” Psalm 51:10