We are continuing a series of how people perceive the church and using Proverbs 6:16-19 (7 Deadly Sins) as a framework for our discussion.
16 There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
17 haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19 a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.
Abraham Lincoln is famous for saying, “No man has a good enough memory to make a successful liar.” Lying has no place in our ministries but I am surprised at the temptation there is to do it. Not so much the blatant lies but it is the lies of omission where we do not tell the full truth of something. Like when I tell a student I am going to make it to one of there ball games knowing I do not have the time to do it and then when I do not show up telling them, “I was busy!” No, you should have never committed in the first place knowing you couldn’t follow through.
Something that was frowned upon in both the Old and New Testaments was the evil of lying. When a person withholds truth or forges the truth there is a loss of trust between the two individuals. Growing up, I had issues with lying. I lied to make me look better in certain circumstances and to pad my ego. To a certain extent, there has been the temptation to do this in ministry. Example: people in the church know I have taken a lot of courses on Greek and Hebrew and sometimes they say things like, “Ask Robbie about the Greek of this particular word.” Now there is the temptation for me to think that I know a lot and so I can probably give them an answer that sounds like I know a lot and if I use enough “scholarly” language I can even dupe people into thinking I am an expert.
So if someone asks me about Greek or Hebrew I will respond by giving them what I think may be the right answer but I try to refer them to people smarter and more capable than I. I am really just (to use Mike Yaconelli terminology) a klutz in the kingdom of God and a spiritual nincompoop. The generation we seek to reach is tired of seeing Christian leaders amount to nothing more than liars. I struggle often with my own hypocrisy knowing I am held accountable even more than those who do not teach. I am not an expert at what I do and often I struggle with incompetence and spiritual stupidity. I admit that I am not the greatest at what I do and there are plenty of men (and women) who are more qualified to do what I do. But I admit that! I am honest and transparent about my spiritual life which is something churches need to do starting with its leadership and letting this mentality trickle on down.
Lies can and have killed churches. How many church splits have started with a lie or a forgery of truth? It’s a shame. We need to be truth-tellers and truth-seekers. “Did you hear about so and so Robbie?” My response should be, “No, but I am going to go to so and so to see if what you say is the truth!”
Buy the truth and do not sell it—
wisdom, instruction and insight as well. (Prov. 23:23)