“It’s just a little white lie. No one was hurt.” An internal argument raged. “But it’s still a lie. You didn’t tell the truth.”
It started over a blob of tangled crayon lines.
“Awesome picture of a tree,” I told my grandson. But I lied. It didn’t look anything like a tree. Or anything I could identify.
I cleared a place on the refrigerator to mount his masterpiece. “Taa daa!” I trumpeted, bowing toward his picture with a grand hand gesture.
I could have truthfully said, “This is the best tree drawing you’ve ever done.” Instead I said, “This is the best tree drawing ever.”
Christians easily recognize the harm in lies that misrepresent God and misinterpret his Word. Deception that takes advantage of others is also obvious sin. But other liberties with the truth can seem not quite wrong. Sometimes justifiable. For instance:
- Hypocritical lies that promise to allow us escape from the consequences of our convictions. (Have you pretended that living together outside of marriage is acceptable in order to escape ridicule?)
- Convenient lies that rescue us from situations we find distasteful. (“I’d love to go shopping, Honey, but my foot is killing me. I should just sit here and watch the Packers.”)
- Fairy tale lies that lead children to believe in Santa, the tooth fairy, and other implausible fables.
- Protecting lies that are meant to shelter others from life’s hard truths. (“Your father doesn’t have a drinking problem. He’s just under a lot of stress.”)
- Privacy lies that save us from sharing what we want to keep to ourselves. (“Missing that party doesn’t bother me a bit.”)
- Caring lies, like the one I told my grandson, that are intended to avoid hurting others.
Our Father, the God of Truth, makes it clear in his Word of Truth that his grateful children are to be people of truth. “Do not lie to each other,” he says, “since you have . . . put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3:9,10).
God’s grace calls on us to be tactful and careful in the way we use truth. But, before all else, the truth of God’s grace compels us to be truthful.
Truth-telling is a life lesson our children and grandchildren need to see lived out in us. And when we fail, they need to hear us admit it, claim our cross-won forgiveness, and pledge to do better.
Little white lies are still lies. God’s children gently tell the truth. Even about trees grandchildren draw.