There has been some high quality lying in our household over the last few weeks. Some bare faced denial of the truth.
It reached an entertaining level last night, with delicious irony, whilst we were doing the 9th commandment in our family Bible study time. (This sounds very high powered. It is in fact a few moments of carnage at the end of supper, where once in a while I don't lose my temper!)
Just before we started our 8 year old had grassed our 4 year old up for being told off at school. We generally frown upon tale telling except in life threatening circumstances. As the 8 year old couldn't resist continuing her tale of self-righteous superiority, despite repeated parental warnings to stop, she got sent for an early bath. (This is not just what used to happen when you punched someone in rugby, but a handy punishment for children.)
I thought it worth investigating the incident in the playground. But when I ask the four year old what she had done she said, "I can't remember." As she had just recited her lunch menu with unerring accuracy, this lapse of recollection seemed unlikely. I pressed the issue. Still her mind was a blank. So I threatened rendition to her bed room for further interrogation. She said that she might have gone into the wrong play ground. This didn't seem so serious, so I thanked her for finally being honest and we moved on to study "You shall not bear false witness against your neighour". Which seemed topical.
Question 1: What is lying?
Answer from 4 year old: "It is when say you try to push someone over in the playground at school and then you say that you can't remember when you can."
This example was delivered with a speed and a clarity that suggested it wasn't the product of lively imagination, but a report on the the last 5 minutes discussion! Which was exactly what it turned out to be.
The thing is that we all deny the truth. We deny the truth about our appearance. My wife returned from a free photo shoot with one of my older daughters last Friday painted orange. They had decided her freckles weren't becoming. It took more baby wipes that are used to deal with the foulest nappy to bring her back from the land of tangerine.
We deny the truth about our lives. I have often met with people whose loved ones are in a hospice and clearly dying, who have told me how much better that they are looking today, or how they could be home soon.
Most seriously we deny the truth about God. The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 1 that people have chosen to suppress the truth about God. It is not that God has hidden himself. The evidence of a creator is all around us. But "They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen." (Romans 1:25)
It is because of our love of lies that God sent His only Son who is "the Truth". Jesus both exposes the truth about us and shows the truth about God. He is the one who enables us to live in the truth of a relationship with our Loving heavenly Father. He is the one who gives us the security to be honest with one another and to honestly face up to the problems of our world. Most importantly 1 John says:
"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:8-9)
When you know that you are loved and forgiven by God whatever you've done, then you can even come clean with the truth about yourself. Honestly!