Mark Twain said, “When in doubt, tell the truth. It will confound your enemies and astound your friends.”

Obviously Mark Twain’s irreverence highlights the gap between what we do and what we should do. Scripture plainly tells us, “Lie not to one another” and “speak every man truth to his neighbor.” Clearly we are to tell the truth when in doubt and even when we are not in doubt. We simply should always tell the truth. Unfortunately, lying has become a way of life for many, and some even lie when the truth would be more to their benefit.

We like the story of a young Christadelphian who was working for a small company. The owner of the company had been lying to a particular customer each time he called asking why his order had not been shipped. One day when the boss was out, the young Christadelphian took the call from the irate customer and told him the truth. Immediately the customer realized the boss had been lying, so he called the boss. The boss summoned the young man into his office and snarled at him, saying, “Why do you always have to tell the truth?” The young man replied, “Sir, if you teach me to lie, you will never know when I am telling you the truth.”

Do we want to be lied to? Do we want our associates to lie to us whenever they think it is for our own good? If we do, then we will never know when they are telling us the truth.

The Bible is clear; we should always tell the truth, which is why Jesus tells us that we should not take oaths because we must tell the truth all the time, not just when under oath. His instructions for us are to let our yes be yes and our no, no. James adds, “Above all, my brothers, do not swear — not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your yes be yes, and your no, no, or you will be condemned.”

If anyone ever tells you that they have never told a lie in their whole life, well, you just heard one. The Psalmist tells us, “I said in my haste, all men are liars.” If it was true when he penned these words, it is certainly true today. We so often want to color our lies as “white lies,” but God has not changed His opinion on lying. It was the serpent’s lie that instigated Eve to begin the chain of events that led to man’s condemnation. We need to remember that Jesus in his Revelation said to John, “All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Fortunately we believe in forgiveness, for as the Psalmist said, “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.”

Since it is a sin to lie, let us be careful what we say. The tongue can be a fire, a world of iniquity, so the Psalms suggest we keep our mouth with a bridle and set a watch on the door of our lips. David declared, “I am resolved that my mouth will not sin.”

The warning of Christ that our words will justify or condemn us is confirmed by Solomon’s advice that he that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life. The blessing promised is, “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.” Paul told young Timothy, “I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not.” Let us then be followers of Paul even as he was of Christ.

Robert J. Lloyd

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