Saving Face versus Honesty

Americans pride themselves on being honest and transparent. In general, I find this is true, but not all cultures have this heritage. In many parts of the world, shame keeps truth hidden behind the curtain of face-saving lies. Even in the West, many find it’s so much easier to tell a quick lie than a complicated truth.

While the world may find it easy to give logical excuses for avoiding truth, those of us who claim to follow Jesus Christ should be wary of thinking this could be condoned by our Lord.

I like the Apostle Paul’s teaching on speaking truth from his letter to the church in Ephesus. (Ephesians 4)

He’s talking about the importance of living a life worthy of the calling we have received in Christ. (That sounds like a good New Year’s Resolution right there). In so doing, we should “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” As different parts of the Body of Christ, we need to stand firm in our faith and not be swayed by the any and every “wind of teaching”. Instead, we need to speak “the truth in love” in order to “grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

So, according to Paul, speaking the truth in love helps us and others to grow in our faith in Christ. Therefore, the opposite must be also true: covering truth leads to immaturity.

Lies don’t build, they tear down.

Paul goes on to say that we “must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. That’s not the way of life you learned, when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught … to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

As a result of our new life in Christ, we must “therefore … put off falsehood and speak truthfully to [our] neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”

Did you know that what we say can grieve the Holy Spirit? It’s true. If we’ve been sealed by the Spirit for the day of redemption, then our words need to reflect his influence in our lives.

The primary reason for lying is self. I need to withhold truth, pervert the truth, or outright lie because I don’t want to be inconvenienced by stating reality.

“I didn’t do it,” is one of the first lies of childhood.

“She did it,” is a close second.

Both are spoken because I don’t want to take responsibility.

“I can’t make it to church today” is one of the popular lies of adult Christians.

“My child’s not feeling well” is a close second.

And the list goes on. I think you got the picture.

Am I living a life worthy of my calling in Christ Jesus by what I say…or don’t say? Am I saving face at the cost of my witness?

Speaking the truth in love is sometimes painful, but always worth the short-term cost to our ego.

Grace and Peace


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