Saturday, May 28, 2016

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 reminder that credibility and character mean a lot. And that seems to be the public's message to the news media following several high-profile scandals.

In 2015 Brian Williams lost his job as anchor of NBC Nightly News after he was found to have fabricated reports related to the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina. New York Times reporter Jayson Blair resigned in 2003 after he Liarplagiarized and made up 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 that were largely fictional. 

The damage has added up. An October 2015 Gallup poll revealed that just 40% of those surveyed trust the media. Only 33% said they have a "fair amount" of confidence, and just 7% reported having a "great deal" of it.

Once you've lost your credibility through lies and deception, how can you ever retrieve it? That's the question King Solomon seems to pose to the media--and to us--through Proverbs 11:3:
"People who can't be trusted are destroyed by their own dishonesty."

There are  several ways that 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. Jesus touched on this by directing his followers to avoid the common practice of using God's name to lend credibility to their words:

"You know that our ancestors were told, "Don't use the Lord's name to make a promise unless you are going to keep it.' But I tell you not to swear by anything when you make a promise! Heaven is God's throne, so don't swear by heaven. The earth is God's footstool, so don't swear by the earth. Jerusalem is the city of the great king, so don't swear by it. Don't swear by your own head. You cannot make one hair white or black. When you make a promise, say only 'Yes' or 'No.' Anything else comes from the devil."

Dishonesty 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. But telling the truth isn't always easy. And conveying honesty and integrity can even cost you something in certain situations. As Christ-followers, however, we must always reflect the words and deeds of our Creator, who's always faithful and dependable.

"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 our words and deeds say about us?

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