“Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds” (Colossians 3:9).
It seems that lying is so commonplace in modern-day society that people have almost come to expect it. For instance, some take a pragmatic approach to lying and simply view it as a way to get things done. For others, lying represents an effective way to avoid conflict, punishment, or an uncomfortable exchange with someone else. Then there are those who see lying as a valuable tool that can be used to advance a preferred narrative.
Of course, no one likes to be defined as a liar so we often invent ways to distance ourselves from the fact that we aren’t being honest. For example, politicians, salespersons, and interest groups are often skilled in framing “a” truth but not “the” truth. An employee who is asked to lie might respond by saying, “It’s just a part of the job.” Or perhaps we might justify a falsehood with the rationalization that it will somehow serve a greater good.
If our consciences begin to bother us regarding our lack of truthfulness, we can always excuse ourselves by explaining that our lie was small or inconsequential. However, there is a problem with that approach: if someone is untruthful in small things, then he or she is likely to be untruthful in larger matters as well. As Jesus noted in the gospel of Luke, “Anyone who can be trusted in little matters can also be trusted in important matters. But anyone who is dishonest in little matters will be dishonest in important matters” (Luke 16:10 CEV).
While lying often seems easier than then telling the truth, there is a penalty for taking the path of least resistance. That penalty takes the form of distrust in our relationships and leads to doubt and uncertainty in our interactions with others. This is one reason why Colossians 3:9 tells us, “Don’t tell lies to each other; it was your old life with all its wickedness that did that sort of thing; now it is dead and gone” (TLB).
We can honor God and gain the respect of others if we develop a reputation for honesty. In a world where straight answers are hard to come by, we should make it our aim to “…speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church” (Ephesians 4:15 NLT).