Ephesians 4:15 says,
Let our lives lovingly express the truth in all things
– speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly.
How great would it be if that Bible passage described all our
relationships? Our communication with one another would be open and
honest, and we would accept each other despite our failures and
Ephesians 4:15 says, “Let our lives lovingly express the truth in all things – speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly.” How great would it be if that Bible passage described all our relationships? Our communication with one another would be open and honest, and we would accept each other despite our failures and shortcomings.
Unfortunately, few of us ever experience these kind of relationships, and the primary reason is fear. We want to live openly and honestly, but we’re afraid that if we let people know who we really are, they will reject us.
So we pretend to be the person we think others want us to be, and we sabotage our relationships in the process.
There is a simple word that describes this decision: lying. Webster’s Dictionary defines lying as “to say or do something with the intent to deceive.” Mark Twain once listed 469 ways to lie, but for the sake of illustration, let me just mention five kinds of lies we commonly tell and the motivation behind each.
First, there is the cruel lie, a lie that is intentionally destructive. It is told with the sole intent of hurting someone else. It is often done in revenge for a perceived hurt. We were hurt, so we want to hurt them back. The motivation for this type of lie is resentment. When I’m angry with you, it is very easy to become resentful and offer a cruel lie to get back at you.
Then there is the cowardly lie, which is usually told to avoid punishment or confrontation. It’s the kind Adam and Eve told in the Garden of Eden when God asked them if they had eaten the fruit.
Adam said it was the woman’s fault, and the woman pointed to the serpent, and ever since men have been blaming women and women have been calling men snakes. The motivation for the cowardly lie is obvious: fear.
A third type is the conceited lie, which is told to impress others or protect our image. It is motivated by insecurity; we tell this kind of lie when we want others to think we are more powerful or clever or popular than we really are.
Then there is the calculated lie. This is told to manipulate others and is motivated by selfishness. It is a willingness to do whatever it takes and say whatever is necessary to get things done our way.
Finally, there is the convenient lie. Honesty takes energy we are often unwilling to expend, so we tell a lie of convenience. Our kid asks a tough question, like, “Where do babies come from?” But we are tired and opt for, “Well … the stork brings ’em.” The motivation is plain old laziness.
We use these and many other kinds of lies, but we usually try to justify our use of them. We “don’t want to hurt their feelings,” so we lie. We “don’t want to confuse them,” so we lie.
We “don’t want to be thought of as different,” so we lie. We have all sorts of rationalizations, but God says, “Would you like to enjoy life? Do you want long life and happiness? Then keep from speaking evil and from telling lies” (Psalm 34:12-13).
The antidote to destroying relationships by lying is obvious: We need to be honest.
First, be honest with yourself. “The Lord gave us a mind and a conscience; we cannot hide from ourselves” (Proverbs 20:27). This is the starting point, because until you can admit your deceit to yourself, you won’t be able to admit it to anyone else.
Second, be honest with God. Admit your dishonesty to Him, ask for His forgiveness and then ask for His help. And be assured
He will give it. As 1 John 4:18 reminds us, “We have no need to fear someone who loves us perfectly; His perfect love for us eliminates all dread.”
Being honest with yourself and with God enables you to take the third step: Be honest with others. “Admit your faults to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).
If you want to heal a relationship, James gives you the key in this verse: Admit your faults. Yes, there is a risk in being transparent, but it’s the only way you will develop a truly meaningful relationship. Intimacy comes from sharing your heart with another, and no other way.
Next week we will look at three practical ways that honesty can enrich our relationships.
Henry Harris is lead pastor of Rolling Hills Community Church, 330 Tres Pinos Rd. in Hollister. If you have questions or comments, please visit the church Web site at www.rollinghillsfamily.com, e-mail [email protected] or phone (831) 636-5353.