Why Is Lying Harmful?
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. Revelation 21:8
When a certain worker got too much money in his paycheck, he said nothing, thinking that he had indeed encountered some good luck. The comptroller, however, found his mistake and deducted the overpayment from the next check. This time, however, the worker loudly complained, “You made a mistake; you didn’t pay me enough money.” The comptroller said, “Look, last pay check, I overpaid you, and you didn’t say anything then. Now, why do you complain when I deducted the amount of the overpayment?” Embarrassed, the worker began to blush and replied, “Look, I can overlook one mistake, but with two mistakes I had to say something.”
Trying to save face is one thing, but saying things which maliciously hurt another person is quite another matter. If there is one thing that the Bible makes clear it is that God hates the individual who lies in a deliberate, pre-meditated attempt to defraud another person. Does it happen? Read the news. Listen to the testimonies of individuals who end up in court. Both individuals can’t be telling the truth.
Nearly 3,000 years ago, Solomon, who one time heard two women both saying, “This child is mine!” wrote, “There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him….” (See Proverbs 6:16-19). The second in this infamous list is “a lying tongue,” and the sixth is “a false witness who pours out lies.” The first disclaimer speaks of those who have made dishonesty a lifestyle. The second speaks of the one who lies about another person, usually resulting in personal gain. His lie is a deliberate attempt to hurt another person.
We usually commit this wrong by what we say, but we can do it by what we don’t say. Years ago the captain of a ship became a bitter enemy of the first mate, and he wanted him fired. He knew that the owner of the ship would never dismiss the first mate simply because he didn’t like him. There had to be justification, a cause for dismissal. He couldn’t say that the man was irresponsible or didn’t do his work properly so he decided to subtly undermine the man’s character.
Every morning the captain would write an entry in the ship’s log, and he began to make notations such as, “This first mate is sober today.” Or, “I am pleased that the first mate is not drunk today.” This practice continued week in and week out so that it appeared that most of the time the first mate was so inebriated that he could not properly fulfill his duties. Actually, the first mate was never drunk, but the one who read the log wouldn’t have thought that.
The owner of the ship read the log and almost dismissed the first mate, and then the truth came out.
When you know that a person’s character is being assailed, and you keep silent, you are almost as guilty as the one whose untruths become deadly arrows. Lying for personal gain is a common practice in offices, in corporations, in courtrooms, and in churches as well.
No matter how often it happens, it is a practice which God abhors, and those who practice this form of character assassination will not go guiltless or unpunished.
At times we lose perspective and think that getting ahead is the only thing that counts. Forget it, friend. Sooner or later, we stand in the presence of the Almighty and we will receive the due recompense of what we have done. God has His payday someday.
Resource reading: Psalm 37:27-40.