Will your lies find you out? Lessons from a public fall.

Nov 2, 2016

What would happen if you found out that all of your secrets were about to be on display for the world to see? Would you feel the need to run and hide? Would you be okay with what was about to be revealed? Would you have to explain yourself because what you had presented in the past wasn’t the truth?

A public fall

I remember when I first heard about the strange turn of events that happened at the beginning of 2015. One of America’s favorite anchormen was caught in a lie, and not only once, but several times. It was discovered that NBC News anchor, Brian Williams, embellished reports of a time he covered Israel’s war with Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group.

As a result, Williams received incredible backlash from the media and on the Internet. When news first broke, there wasn’t a day that went by when I didn’t see something on social media expressing disgust for his actions. In a matter of moments, his reputation went from generally respected to dishonorable.

Sadly, there’s no shortage of these types of stories when it comes to the public eye. It’s a pity when someone falls like this. We never want to rejoice in the misfortunes of others. And, yet, these events also provide a great lesson for us. Sin’s wages are steep, and sometimes those consequences are on display for all to see.

A needed reminder

So, how are we to think about this in relation to our own tongues?

I often notice people separating themselves from these situations with statements like: “Can you believe what he did?,” “She is a liar and deserves the worst punishment necessary,” “I can’t imagine doing something like that.”

Though our disappointment—and disgust—is often justified, we forget that lying like Williams’ isn’t any different from our own. We can evaluate him and others as public figures, but we mustn’t believe we are incapable of the same grave mistake.

Social media, the place where so much of our backlash is usually seen, is one area where it can be easy to lie. Social media makes it easy to present oneself in one way and live in another. With all the words and pictures we share, there’s a temptation to lie. If you’re always presenting life as sunshine and lilies, then there’s probably an instance when you’ve lied. I’m not saying we need to expose our children’s errors online, nor do we need to be grumble and be gloomy constantly, but I am challenging us to think about what we are presenting and ask, ”Is this true?”

However, social media isn’t the only area where we can be tempted to lie. Have you ever been asked how you are doing and lied about it? Have you denied an invitation to an event and made up a reason for your regret? If you have children, have you ever fed your kids this empty threat, “If you do that one more time I’ll__(fill in the blank),” knowing good and well that you wouldn’t do it?

All of these are what we consider “little white lies,” but nowhere in Scripture does God say that it’s OK. A lie is a lie, and before you think, “Wait is she comparing my lying to Brian Williams’?,” remember that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).  Our degrees of sinning and the he consequences will be different, but the heart problem could be similar. As we see the plank in the eye of another, we cannot forget about the log in our own—and our need for God to help us pry it out.

A call to truth

The Bible has over 100 verses addressing the tongue. As Christians, we have the freedom and joy of sharing and speaking the truth. In many ways, the command to speak the truth is an essential aspect of our calling. So, let’s be people who speak in a manner worthy of our calling—speaking the truth in love, allowing no corrupt talk to come from our mouths, keeping our lips from evil and speaking gently (Eph. 4:10, 29; Psalm 34:13). And in all this, whether on social media or in private, let’s use our communication to point to the reality that we have and know the ultimate Truth—and we get the privilege of sharing this with the world.  

Trillia Newbell

Trillia Newbell is the author of  Enjoy: Finding the Freedom to Delight Daily in God’s Good Gifts (2016),  Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves (2015) and United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity (2014). Her writings on issues... Read More