"You shall know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free"
Publisher / Editor:
Paul Hayden

Two-Faced or "True-Faced"?

May 10, 2021

A minister told his congregation, "Next week, I plan to speak about the sin of lying. To help you understand my sermon, I want you all to read chapter 17 in the gospel of Mark.

The following Sunday, as he prepared to deliver his sermon, the minister asked for a show of hands. He wanted to know how many had read Mark 17. Almost every hand went up. The minister smiled and said, “Mark has only 16 chapters. I will now proceed with my sermon on the sin of lying.”

When God gives us His wisdom, it's always for our good. What He calls sin or "missing God's mark" is not meant to condemn us but to help us. Sin is hurtful not because it is forbidden; it is forbidden because it is hurtful.

God's wisdom, given to us, is true in the case of lying. God's admonition in the Ten Commandments is to be truthful. Why? Because lying and deception are the number one cause of breakdowns in relationships. Relationship requires trust. Making commitments generates hope. Keeping commitments generates trust. In other words, lying destroys trust, and trust is the currency of all relationships. Trust connects you to that person or institution.

Lying started back in the Garden of Eden. The serpent that tempted Eve in the garden was an expert at half-truths and deceit. He could make a mountain out of a molehill. He had more verbal twists and turns than a tornado. The Liar can make a case where there was no case, just in case. Adam and Eve fell for the spin. Eat this fruit, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. In other words, you will be the judge of everything, the king and queen of the world, with all the privilege and none of the responsibility.

Well, you know the story. Adam and Eve fell for the lie and started lying to themselves and each other. They produced what they fell for. When God came to find out what was going on, Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the snake, and the snake didn’t have a leg to stand on. Was God trying to stop Adam and Eve from having fun? No way! God was trying to save their relationship. God was trying to keep their trust intact. The result is that men and women have had strained relationships from that day forward.

Adam and Eve’s blame shift was, in fact, a “shame shift.” They fell, they hid, they were ashamed, got angry, and then got fearful. They overlooked the facts, and the end-justifies-the-means strategy of coping came into existence. They had to look perfect, be large and in charge. Their lying and fabrication suppressed the truth. Then authenticity and integrity are replaced by expedience. Expedience is doing whatever you need to do for yourself and the plan or justification you’re pushing to look good. The truth is, the worst thing about being deceived is, you’re deceived.

Where did all this start? A lie that created fear produced a lifestyle and culture wherein lying and half-truths are acceptable and expected. Everyone started hiding behind fig leaves. Think of it. Lies have to be covered up, but the truth can run around naked. No wonder relationships are at an all-time low. No one believes anyone very much anymore. Oh, by the way, beware of half-truth. You may have gotten hold of the wrong half.

A lie is the refuge of weakness. The person of courage is not afraid of the truth. Jesus was always truthful. His integrity intimidated the dishonest lawyers, politicians, religious leaders, and business owners of that time. They reacted to His honesty. Honesty is a force. Honesty has the power to flush hidden quail out of the bush in a frenzy. It was like turning over a rock in the desert and watching all the scorpions, centipedes, black widows, and bugs run for the cover of darkness again. When the light of the truth invades darkness and it eventually will, it will be evident to all. Abraham Lincoln said, "No person has a good enough memory to make a successful liar." 

Psalm 15:4 talks of a person who walked in integrity and told the truth even if it was to his hurt? Why can't we be like this person? I'll bet that person would have many strong relationships because he could be trusted to at least tell the truth. Such integrity would work for him, not against him, in the eyes of God and other people. It's OK to be wrong and admit it. After all, the wonderful thing about being wrong is the joy that it brings to others.  

If we can be honest for a moment, I think most would admit it’s better to be "true-faced" than two-faced. We have lost "honesty is the best policy." Here is an additional benefit of telling the truth. If you tell the truth the first time, you will never have to remember what you said. And with my memory these days, that’s a bonus.

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Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
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