Love does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth. (I Corinthians 13:6) This means a sincerity of purpose- of genuinely wanting what good and true to prevail – out of a love for truth to prevail and not for self gain.
How do you really know if something is true? How do you know if someone is truthful? How do you know when your kids are telling the truth? Do you examine yourself to know if you are truthful with God, with another and even with yourself? Far more comfortable than examining ourselves is the tendency to rationalize and justify the actual intentions of the heart.
As Christians we are called to “walk uprightly, work righteousness, and speak the truth in our hearts” (Psalm 15:1) amidst a culture where deception is commonly practice and commonly accepted. It’s easy however to become anesthetized by the bombardment of misinformation that comes at us intending not to accurately inform us but to get us to purchase something, support someone or believe in a certain way. Even the daily news broadcasts are questionable because the reporting of facts is often done with a persuasive intentions. Two journalists for example, can spin the same news story in entirely different ways, using rhetoric and argument to influence the audience toward a particular ideology. We live in a culture of lies. (Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre)
Deception is not just characteristic of today however. Paul warned the Ephesians about “being tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” and admonished them to instead speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:14) In the Old Testament, Jeremiah wept for the people of Judah saying (Jeremiah 9:3) that “like their bow they have bent their tongue for lies. They are not valiant for the truth on the earth, for they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know Me, says the LORD.”
We are always to speak the truth and nothing but the truth.
If what you state is not pure or unadorned, then it is not the truth. It’s easy to rationalize small “white lies” for “good” reasons, to twist the truth to further one’s cause, and to exaggerate the true to make one look better. Also tempting is to withhold information – to tell only “part of the story” – which can serve to paint a completely different picture. It’s pure deception however- intended to give a false impression of what is really true and it’s often self serving.
Kids learn this skill at an early age. Parents would be wise to remember that their kids will be tempted to tell them what they want mom and dad to know in order to lessen pain and protect themselves from the consequences of their actions.
Parents often naively assume that their kids are honest by nature. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking – no parents wants to regard their child as a liar – and it’s deeply painful for the parent when deception occurs. When informed of their child doing something deceptive (cheating, stealing, lying, etc), it is not uncommon to hear parents emphatically hold to their belief that their child would never do such a thing. (This happens even when clear, unarguable facts are presented!) While some kids are by nature more willing to be truthful, sooner or later, all kids will lie in order to see what they can get by with – and getting by with lying will encourage more deception. More important that assuming pure motives is to teach our kids about the true state of the human heart and how Jesus came to restore us from that condition!
In other words your kids need to recognize what is amiss in their own hearts so that they see their own need of Jesus.
The truth is that the human heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9) Only by the redemptive work of Jesus – who referred to himself as the Way, the Truth and the Life- do we grow pure, truthful hearts which desire and even comprehend truth.
Scripture About Speaking the Truth
Proverbs 12: 17-22 – He who speaks truth declares righteousness, but a false witness, deceit. There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promote health. The truthful lip shall be established forever, but a lying tongue but for a moment. Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but counselors of peace have joy. No grave trouble will overtake the righteous, but the wicked shall be filled with evil. Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.
Ephesians 4:25 – Therefore, putting away lying, let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.
James 3:14 – But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.
- Provide for your kids the safety to honestly examine themselves under your loving guidance by allowing them to confess their wrongdoings without getting an angry response from you. Anger will drive their sin under cover while a loving, honest response will promote confession and growth.
- Infuse the life giving, redeeming message of the gospel into your messages. Nothing will motivate them more to be truthful than to comprehend the One who is truth and who came to rescue us from ourselves.
- Don’t flatter your kids with constant messages such as “You are so good.” Instead, give praise to God Who is truly good. Your ultimate aim cannot be for your kids to “feel good” about themselves.” Rather they need to see their desperate need of Jesus, who is their only hope for lasting joy and inner contentment.