Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Lyin' King

The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in people
who are trustworthy.

-- Proverbs 12:22
With lies you may go ahead in the world," says a Russian proverb, "but you can never go back."

It's a stark reminder that in life--and this is particularly true for Christ-followers--credibility and character mean everything. And that seems to be the message the public is sending the news media following several highly publicized scandals that continue to plague some of the nation's most influential publications.

In the late 1990s, Stephen Glass--a reporter for The New Republic--was caught making up facts that appeared in some of his feature articles. In 2003, New York Times reporter Jayson Blair resigned after it was revealed he had plagiarized and fabricated portions of his stories. And in 2004, USA Today's Pulitzer-nominated correspondent Jack Kelley quit after he was accused of concocting source material and writing articles steeped in fiction. Recent similar scandals have also rocked television news operations. And the damage has added up. So much so in fact that a 2011 poll from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press reported that 66% of respondents believe that news stories are inaccurate, and 77% of respondents think news outlets tend to show bias by taking sides on issues. Surprisingly (and maybe sadly), a related survey revealed that this same tarnished news media is still more trusted than federal, state and local governments, business organizations...and the current president's administration.

Once you've lost your credibility through lies and deception, how can you ever get it back? That's the question King Solomon seems to pose to the media--and to us personally--through Proverbs 11:3: "People who can't be trusted are destroyed by their own dishonesty." And there happen to be several ways we can hurt ourselves and others through questionable words and deeds. For example, flattery is a form of lying since it tells people what they want to hear--regardless of its veracity. We can also be dishonest through exaggeration. Likewise, cheating (or fudging the truth so we come out on top) is a particularly serious issue since it can impact personal and business relationships. What's more, we also lie when we break our promises.

Whether it's the first time or the fiftieth, it's easy to lose our good name and reputation when we're caught lying in one or more of these ways. Who can ever trust us again? As French playwright Pierre Corneille once observed, "A good memory is needed once we have lied." 

Dishonesty really is like a heavy chain that weighs us down and holds us back. But the truth--and the clear conscience that accompanies it--is liberating. Of course, telling the truth isn't always easy. And conveying honesty and integrity can even cost something in certain situations. As Christ-followers, we must always reflect the words and deeds of our Creator, who's always faithful and dependable. After all, our friends, neighbors, co-workers--and even total strangers--are watching what we do and say.

"God is not a man, so He doesn't lie," we read in Numbers 23:19. "He's not human, so he doesn't change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?"

That's what's said about God. So what do your own words and deeds say about you?

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