As parents, one of our non-negotiables with our children was lying. Proverbs 6:16-18 records, “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue…” Thus armed, we parented with these written values of God as our standard. As a result we attempted to meet each of those seven things the Lord hates with automatic discipline and instruction. Thankfully, our children were usually reluctant to fabricate deliberate lies. And God in His grace and mercy helped us catch many infractions.
However, no parent is wise enough to catch and train children in the nuanced stretching of the truth or the deliberate omission of details—which all of us at every age are so prone towards when it is to our advantage.
Have you noticed yourself adding adjectives to a story to invite sympathy for the listener? Or have you been aware by the Spirit’s prompting of deleting details of a story that would reveal your true heart?
I am not a manipulator or a deliberately deceptive person. I highly value the truth and truth-telling. Yet even with my high value of truth I find myself convicted by the straightforward words of this prayer, which ask God to sift even the smallest grains of deception from my speech. The words I speak have power to influence another person’s opinions toward good or toward evil. Speaking only what is true is the basis upon which trust is built and maintained in every relationship. It is why in America so many are disillusioned with politicians, media personalities, and other public figures. Deception of any size or motive ruins our ability to trust.
Susanna has the remedy: “May I ever remember that I am in the presence of a great and holy God.” We would not lie or stretch the truth were we standing before Him. How easily we forget the trembling awe of His presence. We sing of His nearness in church, but can live our days as if He were distant as the galaxies. Help me, O God, to live in light alone—and to watch my words because you hear every single one. Amen.