A while back I was writing an article about lying. When interviewing Christians, I was surprised many insisted they must lie on certain occasions. As I reflected recently on what brought them to this conclusion, I discovered it was fear of man.
“You have to lie if a friend asks if you like her new dress and you don’t,” one lady said. “If you told the truth, she might drop you as a friend.”
“One day the boss asked me if I thought his idea was a good one. I didn’t, but I lied and told him I did, because I didn’t want to get fired,” said a man who put hot sauce on his children’s tongues if they told a lie when they were little.
Teens insisted they had to lie to their parents about where they were going and what they were doing. This was because they were caught in the middle of two groups of people they feared. They feared the rejection of their peers if they didn’t do the cool thing, and they feared the punishment of their parents if they got caught doing what they had been told not to.
For a long time I considered myself an “I never lie” person. Once I asked God to expose lies in my life I saw how often one-word lies slipped from my mouth fueled by fear of man. Frequently I said, “Fine” when asked “How are you doing?” at church, and I was going through a rough time. I realize now I feared letting others see the real me because then they might judge me. It seemed easier to maintain my “I’ve-got-it-all-together” persona.
There have been scores of times I’ve said “Nothing,” when my husband has asked, “What’s wrong?” and I was miffed about something he’d done, but didn’t want to tell him for fear there’d be an altercation.
Sometimes fear of man causes me to withhold honesty like the times I’ve been bothered by crude talk, and kept quiet, pretending it’s fine with me. Not long ago I spoke up–trying to do so in a humble way–instead of staying afraid of being judged as Miss Goody Two Shoes. The response was positive with a concerted effort not to engage in such talk when I was around. Sometimes the crudeness has crept back, but one of the persons in this group has turned to me and said, “I’m sorry. That just slipped out.” I’ve appreciated that.
The good part of being honest about feelings and opinions instead of letting fear of man cause me to lie or withhold the truth is that bitterness doesn’t build up in me. And being truthful is what has drawn me closer to people, so I can then tell them the truth about Jesus. At times I may get rejected for being honest, but that’s OK. Jesus did too.
This verse helps me to keep things in the proper perspective:
“The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1 NIV
What lie have you told lately because of fear of man?