A recent MSNBC story relates how a pastor who has claimed for years to be a Vietnam Veteran and former Navy SEAL has recently admitted both stories were fabrications (click link for story). There is a great deal of pressure on pastors to grow churches, wow congregations, and be a winsome magnet for visitors. But as Jesus taught us our "yes must be yes" and our "no must be no." We must not equivocate or fudge on the truth. Every time we lie we expose what we really trust. Every lie tells God that truth has no place in our lives. Every lie is a vote of no-confidence in Truth. Lying says truth and the God of truth are overrated. This is why lying is so heinous. This is why liars deserve eternal punishment, for it is an offense against an eternal God. And yet, this truth-telling God sent His truth-telling Son (Jesus) to die for liars. God was faithful to His promise. Jesus was faithful to His Word. And in so doing, Jesus dies so that liars can find forgiveness and redemption out of lies and deception. The truth can set us free!
1) Confess sin. I too have embellished stories in small and large group contexts. O God, forgive me for not just speaking plain truth. God sent Jesus to save sinners. To admit our lies and deceptions opens us to receive the forgiveness and cleansing we need.
2) Believe that God will bless the speaking of the truth. Even if the truth exposes other sin and failure, God will take care of us.
3) Forgive other liars. Forgive us Lord, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Those who have tasted forgiveness forgive. Those who do not forgive, don't know God's forgiveness. If you are holding a grudge against someone who has lied to you previously and you are unwilling to forgive, you are no partaker of the forgiveness that has been offered through Christ's death and resurrection.
4) Be bold with truth. In a world of liars, truth tellers are not only tempted to lie, but to be silent with regard to truth. We embellish, coverup, and even mask truth because the naked truth is shocking to a world that loves masks. But we must "go tell it on the mountain, over the hill and every where." There is no greater truth that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Let us proclaim that truth with fresh boldness while refusing at all cost to think the Gospel of Jesus Christ needs any human embellishment to get the job done.