February 25, 2024 | Doug Sauder
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“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”—Matthew 5:33–37 (NKJV)
Liar, liar pants on fire! The statistics on lying may shock you. By the age of four, 90% of children have learned the concept of lying. Based on studies performed, it’s estimated that 60% of adults cannot have a ten minute conversation without lying at least once. Within those ten minutes, an average of three lies were told. Let’s face it, it starts younger than four. Have you ever witnessed a baby fake cry? It’s adorable, but it’s a blaring testimony to our fallen nature.
God is calling us to truthfulness. Honesty seems like such an obvious Christian ethic. But, how many of us have told a lie to avoid looking bad or hurting someone’s feelings. We label these “little white lies”: I was late because I got stuck in traffic. I like your new haircut. No, you don’t look fat in those jeans, etc. God still views these as lies.
I promise this truth just slapped me in the face. As soon as I finished typing the previous sentence, my phone rang, and I told a lie to placate the person on the other end. Oh man, the Holy Spirit sure has a way of lifting the spiritual mirror up and showing us who we are. These are the moments when one can repent and move forward or have the enemy whisper, “Who do you think you are writing a biblical devotional?” Thank You Lord for forgiveness. I’m going to keep going . . .
In today’s Scripture from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is providing a broader interpretation of the Law. He wants His followers to understand and obey the spirit of the Law and not get trapped in technicalities. Such as, it’s not enough to not commit adultery, if you have lust in your heart. It’s not enough not to murder, if you have hate in your heart. Jesus addresses the cultural loophole people were taking when making oaths. It was common for people to believe their oath/promise was less binding if they didn’t use the name of the Lord, so they’d swear by heaven and earth, etc. They were missing the point. We’re called to communicate from the overflow of truthfulness that comes from a new, regenerated heart given to us when we’re born again.
Jesus wants us to be mindful about how we communicate with others. So, we let our yes mean yes, and our no mean no. Let’s not skate past the last sentence in today’s Scripture which says, “For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” Satan is called the father of lies. We’re children of God. If we’re to rightly represent our Father, we must be truthful people because He is the way, the truth, and the life.
It’s genuinely better for us to say no to people, places, and activities than to say yes and not deliver. Promises still matter. We’re expected to fulfill our promises because every promise is made to the Lord Himself.
I was once told, “How you do anything is how you do everything.” In this context, if we lie about little things, we’ll most certainly lie about big things. If we break small promises, then big ones will be broken, too. Let us become people of our word as we’re called to truthfulness.
Pause: Do you say yes to things, tasks, or people’s requests when you wish you had said no? Why? Are you afraid saying no will result in rejection? Are you overcommitting to things as a way of gaining acceptance (people-pleasing)?
Practice: Journal this week how often you’ve told a “white lie.” Next, write down why you chose to lie and how best to communicate the truth in love. Notice if there is any pattern to your lies such as pride, fear, or lack of boundaries. Ask the Lord to remind you that you don’t need anyone’s approval. Ask Him to give you the strength and courage to communicate your boundaries and to not make promises you’re not willing or able to keep.
Pray: Dear Lord, You are Truth. Every day I need your Holy Spirit empowerment to walk in all truth and integrity. I acknowledge white lies are lies. Lord, I repent. I’m sinning against You when I break a promise or tell a lie. Dear Lord, please gently correct me and mold me into Your image more and more every day. Amen.
Deb Marsalisi is an author, public speaker, mentor and Fire Inspector. She began her writing journey to make peace with her challenging past. It has provided her with an outlet for creative self-expression, and a healthy new perspective on life.
Through God’s amazing grace, she has learned to rejoice in life’s ups and downs, struggles and victories understanding they’ve been given so she can help and inspire others on their own journey of restoration. Her passion is to support others in emotional and spiritual habits that are truly life-changing. She spends her free time loving, encouraging and mentoring young women to grow in their relationship with Jesus. And she also enjoys cooking amazing meals for her friends and family.