Wisdom Wednesday: To Tell the Truth


Photo credit: Yoshi Esmée

Have you ever told a ‘white lie’?  Have you ever wondered if there are times when it’s okay to lie or withhold the truth?  Is it wise to always speak only the truth?  Consider the movie Liar, LiarProverbs 10:32 says, “The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness.”  Frowardness is basically twistedness, a turning from good to evil.

I may lose some readers on this one, but I hope you’ll hear me out.  It is not my intention to harm or change anyone’s convictions, but to answer a valid question and to give understanding.  I don’t believe this subject is as black and white as some make it out to be, and this post is certainly not exhaustive.

The Bible clearly teaches that God hates wicked deceitfulness, but contrary to popular belief, the nineth commandment does not say, “Thou shalt not lie,” it  says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor (Exodus 20:16).  There are a few instances in which lying or withholding the truth appears to be permissible.  The midwives disobeyed and lied to Pharaoh because they feared God (Exodus 1).  Rahab lied to the soldiers to protect the Israelite spies (Joshua 2).  Jonathan lied to his father, King Saul, about David’s whereabouts, because his father wanted to murder David (1 Samuel 20).  People who believe we should never, ever lie will admit those three examples were, indeed, permitted, but those same people would also say, “They should have trusted the Lord, and the fact that they lied, reveals a lack of trust in Him.”  But permit me to give another example.  Samuel withheld the truth from King Saul about going to anoint a new king and was instructed by the LORD Himself to give an alternate or secondary reason for going to Bethlehem to prevent Saul from seeking to kill him (1 Samuel 16).  Why did the LORD not tell Samuel, “Just trust me.  I’ve got you covered”?  In each of the examples given, murder— an evil was being prevented.

The Bible also clearly teaches that the devil is a liar and is the father of lies (John 8:44).  His intent is to deceive and destroy.  A Danish proverb says, “If lies are to find credence, they must be patched with truth.”  Satan has no problem stating enough of the truth to get us to believe a lie, but as a Yiddish proverb says, “A half truth is a whole lie.”

So, what’s the answer?  Perhaps the first place to start is to consider the purpose or reason we sometimes lie.  We lie to protect ourselves and/or others either from unpleasantness, chastisement, hurt or real danger, like when we’ve done something wrong and want to cover it up, when we want to be kind and not hurt someone’s feelings, or when someone is in physical danger.  We lie or withhold the truth to deceive others in order to gain an advantage over them, like when we give false information about ourselves on a job application or seek to cheat someone out of something so that we might benefit regardless of how it affects anyone else.

“A lie prevails until truth arrives.”  —Mexican proverb

“If you lie and then tell the truth, the truth will be considered a lie.”  —Ancient Sumerian proverb

“Honesty is the best policy.” —American proverb

Proverbs 12:22 says, “Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.”  God hates when we seek to deceive someone else for our own gain and with evil intent, but He loves when we deal with others with integrity.  Bottom line— consider the two greatest commandments— “Jesus said unto him, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’”  (Matthew 22:37-40)


About Rene Yoshi

Just a transplanted Okinawan-French Southern girl with a wee bit o' Irish, sharing photography and what I'm learning about spiritual things, including putting off legalism and religious traditions, and embracing God's matchless love, tender mercy, and amazing grace! View all posts by Rene Yoshi

10 responses to “Wisdom Wednesday: To Tell the Truth

  • jalal michael sabbagh.http://gravatar.com/jmsabbagh86@gmail.com

    Great post .Telling the truth is the greatest virtue.Blessings.jalal

  • Randell Bell

    There is a big difference between God’s perfect will and His permissive will. In His perfect will lying is to be avoided but in HIs permissive will He may allow lying until the truth can be made manifest. I use for an example the hundreds of Dutch, Norwegian and yes even some German Christians who during WWII hid many Jews from imprisonment and execution. Their lies to authorities saved hundreds maybe even thousands of innocent lives. Thanks Rene your post gives us something to think about. 🙂

  • g.

    Hey Sweets,
    Another great post. I had never considered some of the points you made. The problem I have always had with lying is one of ‘future trust’. I have always felt that if someone lies to me I will have a problem ever trusting their word. I have one or two relatives who, when they say something, you really have to weigh whether or not it is really the truth. To me, that is the danger in lying. I’m sure that the men in the Bible that you mentioned saw a greater good in their lie, and weren’t concerned with what the other person thought of them in the future… but in our relationships I think we need to avoid the temptation to lie if we can. Thanks for all of your wisdom. God bless,

    • Rene Yoshi

      I agree, g, just as the ancient Sumerian proverb expresses. It really does come down to the heart and character of a person when considering them as a source. I confess that I have not always been honest, but it is in my heart to be a person of integrity, to protect others, and not to cause harm, but I have sinned in that area. I agree, we need to avoid the temptation to lie if we can. Thanks, g. 🙂

  • Unshakable Hope

    Great post, wise lady!
    For me, the issue of lying is one of motive. In Hebrews chapter 11 Rahab is listed among the great people of faith because she lied to those seeking the spies. Recently someone asked me if it was ever okay to offer a bribe. After thinking about it, I thought of the movie “Schindler’s List” – he paid bribes to save lives. It’s all about motive.
    I don’t know if that excuses husbands for lying when their wife asks them, “Do these jeans make my butt look fat?”:-)

    • Rene Yoshi

      LOL! If I was a wife shopping for jeans, I would want to know, but if I already had the jeans, I think I’d be okay with not knowing the truth. Ignorance is sometimes bliss, right? [chuckle] Thank you so much for adding to the conversation, Bill, and giving the example of offering a bribe to save lives. I agree. I believe the issue is one of motive, too. 🙂

  • Geraldine Van Biljon

    Ooh I love this post. Much food for thought. I was actually challenged this week with this exact thing, but I told the truth anyway, even though it has consequence. I just could not withhold it because I felt it may do more harm in the long run. But in the same breath, I feel awful, because even though there was ”no promise made”, the truth was still in confidence and with holding the truth felt like just as much of a lie, as actually telling a lie …

    In this case, what do you do? If you know the truth could save a person, but you could lose them? I think its one of those moments of considering someone else above yourself, even if it means loss on your part.

    Withholding the truth just makes me feel a little suffocated at times. Funny … I was actually writing a draft post on lies and secrets when I came across this article. I rate I’ll still post it at some point when I figure it out.

    Ok, I have gona wayyyy off topic now but anyway. I think the main aspect of all of it is whether or not your motive was love? If your motive is love, in some way or another perhaps it’ll be excusable but I don’t know.

    I’m pretty feisty when it comes to struggling with ”matters of conflict and/or compromise”. In one way I feel super super strongly – it says that we should not lie and the devil is the father of lies … The bible says what is says …

    But like these occasions in scripture, I always wondered, was that not compromise? Was there another way? Why did it happen that way? BAND would I have done it differently? Probably not …
    I could go on and on … hahaha ….

    Thank you for food for thought …xxx

    • Rene Yoshi

      Yes, I think the main aspect of it is whether or not your motive is love. It truly is not as B&W as some make it seem, so my purpose in posting the article was to lift any heavy burdens people may be under because of feelings of condemnation and guilt over what they’ve been taught, as well as to help those who are prone to legalism and judgment to take a step back and consider the subject more carefully. There was so much more I could have included— other examples, the root of the Hebrew words used, and most importantly, context, but I think the point was made. Since Wisdom Wednesday is about wisdom, the message was it is not always wise to speak the truth, but honesty is the best policy. Thank you, Geraldine! ((hugs))

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