The Reading: Proverbs 6:16-19
“… a lying tongue …” (v.17) RSV
We continue with the list of seven things the Lord hates, as listed in Proverbs 6. Pride was the first and the worst. But today we come on to the second, lying. Pride and lying are closely linked: “Let lying lips be dumb, which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt” (Psalms 31:18). Once trust has gone and we can no longer rely on what others are saying, then there is no foundation left for a relationship.
The Bible gives some cautionary tales of the consequences of lying. There was Jacob who tricked his father into thinking he was his elder brother, Esau. He gained the Blessing, but had to flee his cheated brother’s wrath. For the following 14 years he lived in exile as a servant of his uncle. Eventually he had to return to be reconciled to Esau, and on the way wrestled with an angle. Out of this conflict he emerged with a lifelong limp (Genesis 32:24-28).
Then there was Ananias and Sapphira. This couple were part of the early church, many of whom were selling their possessions and sharing them with the whole church. Unfortunately, these two conspired together to withhold half the proceeds and yet claim to have given it all. The result was the divine wrath of Peter and the instant death of both of them! (Acts 5:1-11). This was extreme but it served as a salutary example to the other disciples.
Lying is serious. Jesus taught that when the devil lies “he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). He lied in the Garden of Eden: “You will not die” (Genesis 3:4). Deception and lies should not be part of our armoury, rather, we should “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).
Hilaire Belloc told a Cautionary Tale about Matilda who “told such Dreadful Lies, It made one Gasp and Stretch one’s Eyes.” When she cried “Fire” once too often, no one believed, and “Matilda, and the House, were Burned.”
Lord, you always spoke the truth. Help me to be honest and yet gracious. I know the truth will set us free. Amen.
1 What is the ninth of the Ten Commandments?
2 What lies did the devil tell Jesus?