Maybe it’s the political season, maybe it’s my age, maybe I am out of touch, but I cannot grasp the concept that lying is an acceptable trait or behavior. I don’t mean the bold, blatant bald face lies that everyone knows is wrong. I mean the subtle little innuendos that are the mainstay of sane, rational adult conversations these days. I heard a business man say that being late on an assignment is no big deal; that it is commonplace in the ‘real world’. There also are those who say they will be at a certain place or occasion, only to just not show up. When asked later, they normally respond that they forgot.
According to Webster, to lie is to make a statement that one knows is false, especially with the intent to deceive; to give a false impression or action or false statement, especially with the intent to deceive; to make a false statement in order to evade the truth; and is an invention of a false story or excuse in order to deceive.
Almost every week, someone approaches my wife or me with questions concerning our beliefs and faith. Sometimes they see us while we are out and about; sometimes they simply call on the phone. The questions are valid and legitimate and we do our utmost to be up front and respond as mature sensible adults, without excuse. So, after we have explained our trek in this ‘calling’, they express how thankful they are and how relieved they are. They most often state that they have been searching for some truth to the Word, without man’s distortion. We, of course, encourage them to research the whole Bible (Old and New; Torah/Tanak/Brit, etc) for their self and feel free to join us at Shul. Here is where the lie comes: After establishing the times of service and what to wear and can anyone come, “I’ll see you this Saturday”. Saturday comes but they do not. Neither does a call to let us know not to expect them.
We hear this so often. Why say this when they know it is not true? Do they not know about making oaths? Several years ago, one man told me up front the truth: We have been acquaintances for many years. I watched his children grow to adulthood; he tells anyone who will hear how the truth is spoken at KHM. One night, several years ago, I asked after a thrilling discussion of Scripture, “Will I see you this Shabbat?” His reply – when football moves to Sunday! I loved his honesty! He was up front and within his belief. A shining example of Col. 3:9-10 – Never lie to one another; because you have stripped away the old self, with its ways, and have put on the new self, which is continually being renewed in fuller and fuller knowledge, closer and closer to the image of its Creator. He has moved and I don’t see him anymore, but I wonder how he would answer now; -- now that he has gained fuller and fuller knowledge.
Some philosophers debate the difference between lying and false beliefs; some say anything that is not true is a lie – others adhere to the thought that if a person believes something, even if it is not true, is not lying when their opinion is verbally expressed. To call someone a liar is a very strong statement. It does not limit itself to the verbal expression. Calling someone a liar labels everything about them. However, bringing someone’s attention to their behavior being incongruent with their verbal expressions can strengthen them, when they are receptive to feedback.
Proverbs 10:19 tells us that when we talk excessively, we set ourselves up for transgression. We are cautioned to minimize our words. Thus, our walk and our talk will be congruent. We must learn to inventory our vocabulary. When we use a word, do we know what it means? Even though we have been speaking for many years, and have a super education, etc. do we really know what we are saying? Listen to those about you, especially when in a crowded place. Hear the expressions they are using. Most of us use that which we heard in early development. This caution, for me, is vital in reciting rote prayers. My vocabulary does not include some of the words in very old texts.
Simple expressions such as… “I swear..this and that"; Yeshua says it is better not to swear anything in order to avoid being guilty of not keeping your promise or word. There are two common expressions I find amusing. The first is; “I’ll tell you the truth….” Does this mean until now it has all been a charade? Yeshua said let your yes be yes and your no be no. In other words, don’t waste words. Avoid the inadvertent transgression. The other is, when someone sees me unexpectedly in a public place and they begin the contact with; “Oh my goodness, I was just thinking about you and have a note to give you a call.” There is nothing I can say about this. Can it be true? Why would there be doubt in my mind?
Several years ago, while active in a counseling career, I would do various workshops for cognitive restructuring. Most of the encounters were fun and uplifting; some were extremely challenging. However, one of the classes I held focused on lying and green beans. For years the Green Bean Theory was the most receptive and eye opening class. The following synopsis explains it.
Setting the stage for future disaster; A little deception goes a long way. Suppose you just met someone and you want to know them more. You arrange to have a small dinner and you fix a simple but flavorful meal. During the course of passing the food, along come the green beans. Your guest dishes some up with the other foods and no big deal. The two of you eat, enjoy and find a mutual relationship. Time goes by, the inevitable happens. You both fall in love and marry.
Ten years later things aren’t going so good. The two of you are screaming at each other and threatening to split. In the heightened verbal altercation, you hear “And another thing… I hate green beans. I have always hated green beans. I can’t stand your green beans.” Wow! Is this what started the differences? Were we separating before we even got to know one another? Why did someone pretend to like green beans all these years? What would have been wrong on the first visit, when offered the beans, to simply say “Thank you but I don’t care for green beans?”
Of course, the green beans are just a metaphor for anything we may or may not care to engage in. Honesty up front usually opens for a heartfelt dialog. Honesty of the heart. What if the other party takes offense? Ask yourself – what future relationship do you believe you would have if someone could be offended by your honesty; if you were not petitioned for input to the plan and you did not condemn or attack the other party? You only stated that which affected you. Nothing about green beans being yucky or wrong…just that you don’t care to participate in the green bean portion. Is this just too complicated? There is no right or wrong party here. What we have is “not a good match”. Finding out early on makes life more bearable later.
As a side note: A participant came to speak with me about a year after her group involvement. She said she wanted me to know that she and her husband keep a can of green beans in the car front seat, and a can on the table in the house. She told me it has made a big difference in their communications and they do not have to even mention the beans.
Communicating honestly with one another does require forethought. We do not want to belittle or put down. Using tact and kindness goes a long way. Always keep in mind, if you have nothing to defend, then don’t become defensive. Sometimes just standing down and giving the other person space to hear themselves does wonders. From that, learn to get rid of the attacking expression; “I told you so.” As mentioned earlier, the fewer the words, the less opportunity for transgression. Let the actions do the speaking. Show kindness without explaining how kind you are.
According to Zechariah 8: 16-17 (CJB) we are told by YHVH ‘These are the things you are to do: speak the truth to each other; in your courts, administer justice that is true and conducive to peace; don’t plot harm against each other; and don’t love perjury; for all these are things I hate,’ says YHVH.
So simple. Why didn’t I think of that? No need to answer that…….thanks.
Heavenly Father, please continue to guide us and strengthen us to be a light for You. Help us to help others who seek the truth of Your Word. We want to always welcome others to come and join in the dance. As a child wrote the other day, “When words aren’t enough, dance!” For me and my house, we choose to follow You. We want to be a positive influence without brow beating. We want to be an example more than a lecture. You are awesome and wonderful in Your caring ways. Please don’t stop. In Yeshua’s magnificent Name, Amein.
Shalom for now…
a/k/a Frankly speaking all the time