Save me, Lord, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues. (Psalm 120:2 NIV)
In 2017, National Geographic magazine had a feature on “why we lie”:
In the fall of 1989 Princeton University welcomed into its freshman class a young man named Alexi Santana, whose life story the admissions committee had found extraordinarily compelling. He had barely received any formal schooling. He had spent his adolescence almost entirely on his own, living outdoors in Utah, where he’d herded cattle, raised sheep, and read philosophy. Running in the Mojave Desert, he had trained himself to be a distance runner.
Santana quickly became something of a star on campus. There was just one problem: Santana’s story about his life was a lie. Princeton officials eventually learned that he was actually James Hogue, a 31-year-old who had served a prison sentence in Utah for possession of stolen tools and bike parts. He was taken away from Princeton in handcuffs…
Lying, it turns out, is something that most of us are very adept at. We lie with ease, in ways big and small, to strangers, co-workers, friends, and loved ones. Our capacity for dishonesty is as fundamental to us as our need to trust others, which ironically makes us terrible at detecting lies. Being deceitful is woven into our very fabric.
[Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, “Why We Lie,” National Geographic (June 2017)]
We live in a time where lying is regarded as normal and even applauded. The prevalent message is that you can lie, get away with it and prosper. How do we respond to a lying world?
The songwriter who composed Psalm 120 struggles with life as he lives with people who lie incessantly. He prays this prayer: Save me, Lord, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues. (Psalm 120:2 NIV) He realises that he cannot run away from a world of lies. Therefore his prayer before God is that God will save him from lying lips and deceitful tongues. He wants to practise discernment so that he will not be taken in by the falsehood he hears. May we pray for a discerning heart. May we learn to pursue truth in our lives.
How do we practise truth-telling in our lives?
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. (Ephesians 4:12 NIV) We speak the truth in love to each other especially within the body of Christ, the church community. Lies depersonalise us. People who lie intentionally usually have an agenda. They want to get something out of the lie. When we practise truth-telling, we build relationships. The truth-telling we practise as a Christian community is not only the telling of the facts. It is also the telling of God’s truth found in the Bible. That is why Paul in Ephesians 4:12 promises that we will grow and mature in our faith as we speak the truth in love to each other.