It is the opposite of trust, breeding disconnect and discontent. It leaves you with that awful sting right in the center of your chest that knocks the breath out of you. It makes you question, and replay every word spoken between you and the other person searching for understanding, answers and validation. As its recipient, your self-worth is challenged, your emotions shift into overdrive, and if honest, you might even say, you feel a bit crazy—searching for answers and the reasons why someone, you care about and trust would willfully deceive you.
Unfortunately, most of us have been lied to at one time or another or even told a “white lie.” For a large portion of my life, I was very close to someone who lied as easily as taking his next breath. It changed me. I became like some undercover agent constantly on a mission to discover what was real, true, and good. It destroyed the foundation of our relationship and undermined everything we sought to build.
From the time my children were young, I told them to tell the truth. I assured them that I would work through whatever it was, no matter how bad it was, if they told me the truth. However, if they lied, then things were going to get much worse for them. To this day, (and at this time, they are 27, 25, and 21) we all value honesty and being transparent with one another and I believe it keeps us close.
So why is telling a lie wrong? Or look at this way…why is telling the truth so important?
First of all, the Bible tells us not to lie, because God detests it. In Leviticus 19:11, it says, “‘Do not steal. “‘Do not lie. “‘Do not deceive one another. In Proverbs 12:22, we are told,“The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.” Psalm 5:6 says,“You destroy those who tell lies. The bloodthirsty and deceitful, you, Lord, detest.”
And, John 8:44, tells us that Satan is the father of lies and when we lie, we carry out his desires to destroy and cause destruction. “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Likewise, when we are kind and trustworthy, Proverbs tells us that God delights in us.
Second, lying destroys relationships and lives. When we love and care about someone and they lie to us, it can cause damage that at times cannot be repaired. Instead of seeing that person as someone you can trust, who has your best interest at heart, you begin to doubt them and their motives. When you have been deceived repeatedly, it can make you see others and life through negative, untrusting and skeptical eyes. No longer, is someone innocent until proven guilty; they are guilty until proven innocent. The damage left in the wake of lies is like that of a hurricane. The home becomes a heap of broken people, whose lives are scattered pieces of their whole selves. The harmony and safety that once existed in the home, is gone—ripped apart leaving a long line of chaos and confusion.
Third, it damages another’s self-worth. Betrayal is like getting the wind knocked out of you. If the person you are spending time with is constantly lying to you, it can cause deep hurt, depression, anger and low self-esteem. To know that someone is deliberately choosing to deceive you disables all trust and faith, making it more difficult to trust the next time. Each time a lie is told another barrier is erected between the liar and the recipient. Often times, one lie begets another and as it continues, the wall between the two grows to the point that it is impossible to deconstruct. This is not a healthy way to live.
Therefore, why would someone want to deceive another? Below are a few reasons why.
- People lie to maintain control by hiding the truth. Some people lie so that they can have their cake and eat it too. “I am out of town on business,” when really they are seeing someone else, but want to keep both relationships a secret, so they can keep both relationships.
- People lie to keep from disappointing someone else. They don’t want to admit they don’t like a certain food, or book or personality trait. So rather than be upfront and express their differing opinion, they lie. “Sure, Mexican food is fine or I’d love to go with you to that concert.”
- People lie to feel important or because something desperately matters to them. Therefore, they may embellish about a class they took or something they did so that they appear better in another’s eyes. “I have gone skydiving too!” or “I received an A in that class.”
- Some people lie because they don’t know how to say, “No,” to an invitation or request. For example, rather than explain they cannot take on another project, or don’t have the funds to go to dinner, they tell a white lie and say they are busy that day.
- Some people lie because they have no ability to be empathetic. They lack a conscience. These types of people are sociopaths and because they lack the ability to experience any type of empathy, they don’t care what happens to another. People are there to use only as long as they prove to be useful to them and their purposes. They have no shame and no remorse.
The worst part of being the recipient of lying is that it causes so much grief. In a world where integrity and goodness are becoming harder to find in others, how much more important is it that we teach our children to be honest?