The Best Defense for a Bad Memory

October 3, 2004

“An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips” (Proverbs 24:26).

This verse will suggest different things to different people. What exactly does it mean and what is the relationship between an honest answer and a kiss on the lips? I think there are three points of comparison:

1) Just as it is relatively rare to be kissed on the lips, even so it is relatively rare to hear a true and honest answer.
2) Just as a kiss on the lips means more than a kiss on the cheek, even so an honest answer is a mark of true sincerity.
3) Just as a kiss on the lips can be and should be deeply satisfying to the soul, even so an honest answer is satisfying to the soul.

We live in a cynical age when truth is in short supply.
The polls show we don’t think our leaders are telling us the truth.
Our motto seems to be: “Tell the truth as long as it is convenient.”
When an election rolls around, it’s open season on the truth.
One campaign has a “Truth Squad”; the other has a “Department of Defense.”
“If you lie about me, I’m going to lie about you.”
In the process, truth is first devalued, and then lost altogether.

Proverbs 6:16-19 tells us the seven things the Lord hates. Two especially deal with the lack of honesty: a lying tongue and the false witness who pours out lies. Proverbs 14:25 tells us that “A truthful witness saves lives, but a false witness is deceitful.” According to Proverbs 12:19, “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.”

I read about a man who told a lie at work. “I got in trouble and I told a lie to cover up what I had done. But then I found that I needed to tell another lie to cover up for the first lie. But then I had to tell a third lie to cover up the first two lies I told. Then I had to tell another one to cover up the third lie, a fifth lie to cover up the fourth lie, and I kept on until I finally sat down and counted up and realized that I had to tell 42 lies in a row to cover up for the first one.”

Another man was fired from a high-level executive job. The reason was simple: lying, bending the truth. It wasn’t out-and-out scheming as much as ignored opportunity to come clean. When challenged, he covered up and was discovered. He was the company’s rising star personally changing the face of a multimillion dollar business. He lost his job because he couldn’t tell the truth.

If you lose your money, you can always make some more. If you lose your integrity, you may never get it back. Tell the truth the first time and you won’t have to worry about having a bad memory.

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?