But let your statement be ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no.’ Anything beyond these is evil. Matthew 5:37 (NASB)
My friend Kitty and I recently watched a movie called The Good Lie. It’s about the lost boys from southern Sudan. There are a couple of “iffy” scenes in it (which could have easily been left out in my opinion) because not all the characters are Christians so there behavior is, well, unchristian. I do highly recommend the movie, although I would watch it first before deciding whether you want your kids to see it.
But the movie, and a sermon from Pastor Kevin, did get me to thinking. Is there really any such thing as a good lie? Is it good to tell your child that’s the most beautiful drawing of a dinosaur you’ve ever seen? Is it right to tell your friend that dress makes her look ten pounds slimmer when it doesn’t? Is it okay to exaggerate the size of that fish that got away? How about to praise a friend’s writing that is full of cliche’s, grammatical errors, or is just plain bad?
Little white lies. We all tell them. Usually, it’s to spare someone’s feelings, or more likely, to spare our own from the wrath that might come down were we to speak the blunt truth.
But the Apostle John had a lot to say about the truth. “And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32) “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) ” “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
As a teen, I read a story called The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom. Somehow, I’ve never forgotten that book. Corrie and her family were hiding Jews from the Nazis. Corrie’s sister, Betsy, said it was a sin to lie, so when the Nazis came in, she admitted to them that the family was hiding under a trap door beneath the kitchen table. The Nazis assumed she was lying to them, so they searched the rest of the house and left without ever checking there. John 8:44 tells us that Satan is the father of lies, and there is no truth in him.
Yes, we do need to encourage our children in whatever they set their heart to doing, and we do need to be kind to our friends. God never desires us to intentionally hurt anyone. But can’t we do that without lying to them? Is it kind to tell a tone-deaf child they’re a great singer?
The problem with little white lies is that words have power. They have consequences, both good and bad. And we can’t see the future. We have no way of knowing what those consequences are going to be. Sometimes the effect of those words may show itself thirty years down the road. Encouragement, yes! Don’t ever put your kids down. Don’t ever tell them they can’t do what they’ve a mind and heart to do. But ask yourself, ‘Is this child going to develop an ego the size of California because he received too much false hope from my words?’ Or, ‘Is my friend going to go out and splurge on a cream puff because it’s okay. That dress she just spent way too much money on will hide the extra calories?’
Most of all, our words need to be a testimony of who we are in Christ. Did you know, there are a few things God cannot do. He cannot lie. And if He is alive in us, and we are His sanctuary, we shouldn’t either. Not even little white lies.
I don’t want to give away the ending to the movie. But I will say it could have ended very differently. The consequences of his “good lie” could have been dire. So, all I can say, is listen to the Bible. “Let your yes be yes, and your no be no.”