Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Subtle Deceit (Proverbs 12:17, 19; 19:5)

"He who speaks truth declares righteousness, but a false witness, deceit" (Prov. 12:17).

Any parent can testify to the ease with which children lie. They don’t have to learn to lie—it comes to them naturally. While it may seem obvious that we should instruct our children not to lie, we may not always consider the subtle nuances of deceit developing in our children. Lying is not always a bold contradiction to the truth. It can be merely an inconspicuous embellishment to make even the most mundane situation seem more exciting. These tendencies in children must not go unchecked; and not only in children—adults must walk the straight and narrow as well. So often we add a little exaggeration to our story, distorting the truth just enough to let is slip by our consciences without much alarm. Such subtle disregard for truth is a serious transgression. God does not look lightly upon any kind of deceit. This lesson must be impressed upon all of us, and it’s never too young to start.

If you do not believe children to be sinners, you will not instruct them at a very early age regarding the importance of walking in the way of truth. You will not be as strict with them about lying as you ought. But as Proverbs 12:20 says, “Deceit is in the heart” We’re born with it. Bridges writes, “The principle of deceit is here traced to its fountain—the heart. How early it is found there, the first lispings of infancy too plainly prove. A lie is ready upon the child’s lips, when the temptation is presented to it; though nothing is to be gained by it, but the hateful pleasure of sin.… How frightful also is it to remark the outward expression of deceit in lying lips! Diversified indeed are its forms—falsehood, exaggeration, coloring, willful perversion, wrong impressions produced or encouraged. No part of Christian education is more important than the training of children in the deepest reverence for the simplicity of truth.”

The predilection toward falsehood often arises more from a carelessness about the truth than from intentional lying. If a child is telling you a story about what he saw in the street, do not allow him to say that he saw it out of one window, if he really saw it out of another. Let him know that any known deviation from truth and accuracy bears the stamp of a lie, which is an abomination to the Lord who is the Truth.

What is a common way people embellish things when they talk about issues, events, or even mundane situations in their lives? Are you guilty of this sin? If you have children, do you watch for times when they exaggerate? Do you correct them when they do this? If you are guilty of distorting the truth, confess it to God today.