We are in the third week of the worship series, “My Big Fat Mouth.” The foundation for this series is found in Luke 6:45 – The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
So far in this series, we have talked about complaining and criticism. We have been encouraged to find ways to compliment, rather than complain. We have been encouraged to do something about those things we are tempted to complain about. Rather than being judgmental, critical fault finders, we have been challenged to become hope dealers. It’s important that we understand that our words have power. Therefore, we should be wise and discerning in how we use our words.
The Good News of Jesus Christ is too important to allow ourselves to be distracted by complaining and criticism. Sharing the hope of Jesus Christ with the word around us is too important of a call to be sidetracked and sidelined by complaining and criticism. Let’s be honest though, being a complaining critic is too easy.
This morning we are going to talk about the dangers of lying. In the spirit of honesty, the last 15-16 months of ministry have been some of the most challenging I’ve encountered. I fully recognize it isn’t just ministry – it has been difficult and challenging for everyone! I have second, third, and millionth-guessed every single decision I’ve made – whether concerning the church or even just our personal practices.
If you are in a leadership position where you are ultimately responsible for making decisions, I’m praying for you. Every decision we make, especially over the last 15-16 months, is met with complaining and criticism. No matter the issue, no matter the decision, there will be someone who disagrees…and they let you know…and generally not in a kind way. In fact, in those moments when people are trying to make the best decisions for the greater good, they have faced accusations of lying or intentionally misleading the masses.
I’ve seen the hurtful and less-than-Christian posts people make about our local school’s leadership. I’ve seen the hurtful and less-than-Christian posts people make about our local, state and national leaders. I’ve been on the receiving end of some of the hurtful and less-than-Christian comments. It appears that people have adopted bully-pulpit tactics and make threats in order to get their way…Listen, I should have to state this, but bullying is not a Christian value!
To be honest, it wears a person down…mentally, physically, spiritually. The amount of burnout we are seeing in ministry, medicine, education, service industry and just about every sector of the workforce is in large part due to the unrealistic demands being placed on people. In addition to the complexities of the coronavirus, there are the complexities of worker shortages, supply shortages and inflating costs! Add to those unrealistic demands and overwhelming conditions the often-undeserved complaints and criticism, and it becomes exhausting. The lack of love and grace is heartbreaking.
As followers of Jesus, rather than being known by what we stand against, rather than being known by our complaints and our criticism, we should be known by our love, grace and hope. There are too many people in our homes, schools, neighborhoods, community and world who desperately need to experiencing a life-transforming encounter with the Good News of Jesus Christ to allow ourselves to be consumed by negativity. We must accept the call to be hope dealers. We must not allow ourselves to be distracted by trivial pursuits as we strive to be hope dealers in all we say, think and do. Being committed to being people of honesty and integrity is a great step in the right direction.
This morning we are going to talk about the dangers of lying. Let’s be honest, how many of us are guilty of those little, harmless, white lies? How many of us are guilty of justifying those little lies by saying, “I’m not lying. I’m just stretching the truth.”? Listen, a lie is a lie.
Proverbs 12:22- “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.”
If you don’t get anything else out of this message – hear this – don’t lie! If your mother is still living, go home and call her…tell her you went to church…she’ll be proud of you and you will earn some brownie points and maybe get more than socks or a tie for Christmas. When she asks what the sermon was about, you can say, “don’t lie!”
Earlier this week, I did a Google search on “examples of lying”. Here’s what came up:
• Telling your mother her meatloaf is delicious, even though you hate it.
• Telling your friend that she doesn’t look fat in her dress when we all know she does
• Telling your husband that his new haircut looks really good because you don’t want to hurt his feelings by telling him it is terrible
• Telling your friend that you really like her new house when you actually think it’s kind of dumpy and is in a terrifying neighborhood because you don’t want to ruin her excitement
• Telling your boss that you are happy to work over the weekend when you are actually really upset and resentful, but you don’t want to upset the boss
• Telling your sister that her new baby is really cute when it’s actually the ugliest baby you’ve ever set eyes on
• Telling your brother that you love the gift he got you for your birthday because you know that he put a lot of thought into picking it out, even though you can’t stand it…and it’s the same thing he got you last year!
• Someone asks how you are doing, and you’re falling apart, but you say, “I’m fine.”
• Exaggerating our abilities
These are what we sometimes qualify as those “little white lies.” We’ve convinced ourselves that they don’t really count. But what about bigger lies?
• Maybe misrepresenting your income on your taxes
• Taking credit for a project that you didn’t work on
• Telling people what you think they want to hear
• Leaving out some important details
• Passing blame instead of taking responsibility
• Saying someone resigned or retired or “God led him in a different direction” when they were actually canned
When the truth comes out, and it always does, these “little lies” end up causing a great deal of damage.
We convince ourselves that, as long as no one gets hurt, it’s not that big of a deal.
Our Scripture reading from Colossians 3:1-17, offers some clear guidelines for avoiding complaining, criticizing and lying. Complaining, criticizing and lying are great threats to the community of believers because they prevent the spread of love and grace and break down trust.
Colossians 3 states that we should focus on things above, not on earthly things. As followers of Jesus, we should be focused on pleasing Him rather worrying about things that too often don’t really matter.
In order to focus on Jesus, we are told to rid ourselves of our earthly desires- fornication (I know you were all hoping to hear that word in worship this morning!), impurity, passion, evil desire and greed. If that list wasn’t sufficient, we told to put aside anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive (or filthy) language. Now, if we are being honest, most of us would admit that there is something on that list that stings a little, that hits a little too close to home.
In verse 9, we’re told, “do not lie to one another.”
One of the favorite shows in the Morris house is Stranger Things. It’s a wild story set in the 1980’s in the fictional town of Hawkins, IN. Here’s a brief description from the Internet Movie Database, “After the mysterious and sudden vanishing of a young boy, the people of a small town begin to uncover secrets of a government lab, portals to another world and sinister monsters. The boy’s mother desperately tries to find him, convinced he is in grave danger, while the police chief searches for answers. Trying to help find him, the boy’s friends discover a strange little girl who is on the run from “bad men”.
It’s really the story of a group of friends who are trying to protect their friend, Eleven (the strange little girl) who happens to have superpowers – while also exposing the truth. The group of friends teach us several lessons about friendship. I saw an article this week that outlined the Top 5 friendship lessons from Stranger Things. Now, before I jump into the list, there was one that didn’t make the list, but maybe should have – if you meet someone with superpowers, you should add them to your group of friends…it just might come in handy from time to time!
5. Hug Your Buddies – when things get crazy, when things are difficult, when we are at the end of the rope, hug your friends.
4. Walkie Talkies are essential. The best groups of friends have walkie talkies! Now, remember, the show is set in the 80’s, before cellphones were a thing!
3. Even when you are having disagreements or fighting, have each others back.
2. Never leave a friend behind.
1. “Friends don’t lie.”
Lies drive a wedge between us. Lies can damage and destroy relationships. Lies break down trust. Back to Colossians!
I love Colossians 3:11 because it levels the playing field. As we are renewed by Jesus, those things that might divide us are torn down. There is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free – but Christ is all and in all.
Today that might read, “There is no longer Republican and Democrat, masker or anti-masker, vaxer or anti-vaxer, Hoosier or Boilermaker…there is Jesus, there are hope dealers focused on sharing the Greatest News the world will ever know.”
After being told what we are to get rid of, we’re told what we are called to embody and extend into the world. This is where the rubber hits the road…this is where things becoming challenging…because the things we are called to rid ourselves are much easier than the things we are called to put on…Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience; we are to bear with one another, forgive one another (remembering that Jesus told us our ability to receive God’s forgiveness is directly tied to our ability to forgive one another); we are to be people clothed with love. We are to let the word of Christ dwell within us richly. If Christ’s word is dwelling within us – it will be evident in the fruit we produce. If our fruit looks like complaining, criticism, lying and all those things we are called to avoid – well, it isn’t Christ dwelling within…
I believe that this week we should all work to commit Colossians 3:17 to memory- “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
If we are committed to doing everything in the name of Jesus, it should become increasingly difficult to do anything other than love. If we are committed to doing everything in the name of Jesus, it should become increasingly difficult to do anything other than tell the truth.
The enemy wants to get us to lie
The enemy wants to get us to lie to ourselves
Then enemy wants to get us to lie to others
The enemy wants to get us to live a lie
When we tell lies, we end up having to tell more lies in order to cover for the initial lie we told. You know what I mean, right? Then, it gets increasingly difficult to distinguish the truth from a lie. We get stuck in our lies. We get distracted with our lies. We do damage with our lies. Our lies keep us from effectively witnessing for Jesus. Our lies prevent us from being hope dealers.
Half-truths fall into lies as well. We think these half-truths and white lies are innocent…until they snowball and aren’t so innocent anymore.
We’re surrounded by lies. My news feed has been full of lies and intentionally misleading misinformation. Sometimes we are so convinced by lies, that even when the lies have been refuted by facts, even when the video or link we post was shut down for containing misinformation, we defend these lies by claiming that “THEY don’t want us to know the real truth.”
When confronted or caught in a lie, what do we do? We tell more lie’s…“No, I didn’t eat the last cookies. I don’t know anything about that. Oh, you have photographic evidence that I know about that? Well, she did it too! What about her?” Instead of just telling the truth, we try to shift focus away from us! In that moment, rather than being like Jesus – we’re being like Adam and Eve who tried to shift the blame.
The enemy desires that we lie, to ourselves and others.
John 8:31-32 – 31 Jesus said to those who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teaching. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Jesus desires to set us free! Jesus is the truth; the truth will set us free…
In Jesus, we are forgiven and made whole…if we have Jesus, we don’t have to pretend, we don’t have to hide behind our lies.
To reverse the course of our lies, no matter how big or small, we have to begin with confession and repentance…we have to seek forgiveness…we have to accept that forgiveness…and we have to move forward.
Our mothers, teachers, principals and officers of the law are right…Honesty truly is the best policy. We can avoid unnecessary conflict by simply being people of truth.
When we mess up…not if, but when we mess up, listen, God already knows we goofed up…God already knows…we can’t pull one over on God. Stop wasting time and get the truth out there. I believe we are called to be hope dealers…and being people of truth is of vital importance.
When we are tempted to lie…tell the truth…it may be difficult…but in the end…the truth will set us free!
As we become people of love, grace, hope and truth – we will not only see our lives change, but the world around us will be transformed for the better.
My prayer is that we will all take some time to do some inward reflection – to confess and repent of our lies – to confess and repent of those things of which we need to rid ourselves – and make a commitment to the Truth!
My prayer is that we will strive to embody compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, peace and love. My prayer is that First Wayne Street will be known as a community of hope dealers embodying and extending the love, grace and hope of Jesus with everyone.