The Truth About Lies

How Lying Can Cost Us More Than We Think

photo credit: utah778 on iStock

Have you ever served on a jury?

I have and found the experience quite fascinating.

My case?

The big, bad mega-insurance company vs. the little guy who paid thousands of dollars in premiums to said mega-company in exchange for the peace-of-mind-in-case-something-happens homeowner’s policy.

Well something did happen. The little guy’s house was burglarized.

Then his claim was denied.

Not having heard the details, one might be inclined to think the insurance company wasn’t keeping up their end of the bargain.

But that wasn’t the case.

On day one a critical section of the policy was read aloud to we-the-jury. It clearly stated if any portion of the claim was false the entire claim would be null and void.

After closing arguments the twelve of us sat around the table sharing our key take-a-ways — like a scene from Law & Order.

Opinions went flying but the one thing we all agreed on?

The little guy lied. Not about all of it, but about some of it.

We had no choice but to rule in favor of the big, not-so-bad-after-all mega-insurance company. The little guy got nothing. Nada.

The moral of the story?

Even a half-truth doesn’t pay.

We all face times when a lie seems right — when a lie seems easier, nicer, softer in a where’s the harm in it kind of way.

Maybe we’re afraid the truth will hurt so we shield people from it. That’s a good thing, right? I mean, why should we inflict unnecessary pain on someone when it could be avoided?

We wrestle with what to say as we hear Jack Nicholson’s voice in our heads saying: “You can’t handle the truth.”

Who gave us the authority to decide who can’t handle the truth?

We bend the truth like Gumby and classify the more acceptable lies as little white ones because it makes them seem fresh and crisp like laundered linens.

We try covering them up, don’t we? We keep covering and covering and adding on like compound interest until the dirt spills out from under the rug and we can’t find a broom.

We forget what we said and our story keeps changing. The ironic thing is, the people we lied to remember everything.

Truth is, lying is a sin and usually gets us into more trouble than the truth ever would. No matter how we measure it, what we call it, or how hard we try to bleach it white, a lie is still a lie.

Calm down now, the church lady isn’t judging. She’s told a few whoppers herself.

And while we don’t like to think of ourselves as full-blown liars, I’m pretty sure God isn’t on board with even the little white ones. We don’t get half-credit for half-truths like some math test, either. Even when our intentions are good.

Warm and fuzzy lies don’t move mountains.

It’s difficult being truth-tellers, but when we tell the truth, it frees people. It allows people to experience what they need to experience. It allows people a choice to make positive changes in their lives. It gives people opportunity to repent and to forgive.

Probably one of the most understandable times we lie would be to our kids. We try sparing them hurt by making up stories to ease their minds and protect their hearts. We want to shield our kids when something bad happens — like the loss of a family member or pet. Still, there are life lessons to be learned and it can be healthier for them to hear the truth from us now, rather than to find it out later from someone else. We often find our kids handle truth better than we give them credit for.

Photo by Jenn Evelyn-Ann on Unsplash

Tell the truth with care and receive it with grace.

Here’s a caution: We don’t need to sound hateful and judgmental to be truthful. We can be mindful of the magnitude and tactful in our approach. If we plan on rubbing truth in someone’s face we might as well be the liar. Truth calls for pure and humble intentions.

Hopefully we can appreciate that we need to hear the truth too, because not only are we called to tell the truth with care, we must also be ready to receive it with grace.

Speaking of receiving the truth, let’s stop lying to ourselves. We believe lies we have either made up on our own or have allowed others to speak over us — we have nothing of value to contribute, we are not able to succeed at anything, we’re just plain not good enough...

Unhealthy lies.

Healthy truth: We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.He thought we were worth going to the cross for, so let’s believe Him.

Here’s more truth. Satan whispers lies to us, but we can’t give him all the credit. We tend to help him out in this department, am I right?

Lies may seem harmless, but they can quickly grow from a seedling to a bean-stalk. Bean stalks lead to fee-fi-fo-fum and the giant is real. But with the help of God we can slay the giant. David showed us that.

Here’s some good news.

It may come as no surprise that telling the truth has positive health benefits.

WebMD published an article on the health benefits of telling the truth:

“Our findings support the notion that lying less can cause better health through improving relationships,” says researcher Anita Kelly, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame. “Improvements in the relationships accounted for a significant improvement in health.””
“What we are suggesting is, not violating others’ expectation of honesty is likely to build trust, which may be key to good health through improving our relationships.”
The findings echo some other research findings by Sally Theran, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Mass.
“My research on girls and boys … indicates that the process of being authentic, or being honest and open in meaningful relationships, is significantly related to feeling less depressed and having higher self-esteem,” she says.
Honesty is also related to feelings of intimacy in friendships, she has found. “There may be increased conflict, as a result of being open and honest, but it leads to better quality of friendships,” Theran says.
Telling the truth can feel risky, she says, but when you do so, you can feel less inner conflict. “When we lie,” she says, “it adversely affects our self-esteem and increases our sense of shame. So, it’s not surprising at all that the authors found that telling the truth was related to all these positive outcomes.”

Did you catch the part about how lying increases our sense of shame?

When we lie to others, we’re not doing them any favors and we’re not doing ourselves any favors either.

Let’s be totally real and totally honest. It’s better for our relationships, health, and spiritual well-being.

Always offer truth because truth equals trust.

Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

Truth is freedom. Let freedom ring…

“Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another.’” Ephesians 4:25 NKJV

Have you avoided telling the truth to spare someone’s feelings?

Share your comments…

Excerpt taken from the article: Fewer Lies, Better Health By Kathleen Doheny
WebMD Health News © 2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Doris Swift is a the author of Goodbye, Regret: Forgiving Yourself of Past Mistakes. Get a free gift when you subscribe to her blog here. Follow her on Facebook & Twitter @DorisSSwift