Compassionate Lying Does Not Honor God
By Dr. David L. Goetsch
You have probably found yourself in this situation. Someone asks your opinion but to answer truthfully would hurt their feelings or make them angry. It’s the old “does this dress make me look fat” kind of question. Rather than cause distress, you tell a “compassionate lie.” It’s just a little white lie and your intentions are good. Surely no one will fault me for that. Right? Wrong.
The problem with compassionate lying is that it is still lying. When you face this kind of moral dilemma, remember this rule of thumb: the right choice is the choice that honors God no matter what the fallout might be. Tell the truth. Be tactful and even gentle, but tell the truth.
What does it mean to honor God? How does a Christian who wants to walk worthy of this calling and, in turn, live a life of significance go about honoring God every day? What follows are specific things you can do to walk worthily down a path that honors God and leads to a life of significance.
Tell the Truth
There is only one source of truth: God’s Word. Ensure every choice you make in life accords with God’s Word. Telling the truth may cause you embarrassment in the eyes of your peers and hurt someone’s feelings. But it in the long run, only the truth can set you free (John 8:32).
Heed the Greatest Commandment in all Aspects of Your Life
In Matthew 22:34-40 Christ gave us the bottom line when it comes to walking worthy of our calling and living lives of significance. He told us to love God with all our heart and love our neighbors as ourselves. When we love God with all our heart, behavior based on lust, greed, self-centeredness, misguided ambition, envy, jealousy, and other sinful motives including lying can no longer be justified. When we love our neighbors as ourselves, we in turn show love for Christ. Never forget Jesus told the Apostle Peter not once but three times that the best way to demonstrate his love for Christ was to feed his sheep (John 21:15-17). When we take care of our neighbors, we are feeding Christ’s sheep. When we feed His sheep, we are walking worthy of our calling and living lives of significance. This is the opposite of lying.
Show Others Christian Love as Described in 1 Corinthians 13
The quintessential Bible verses on Christian love are found in 1 Corinthians 13. In verse 4, love is described as being “patient and kind.” We learn in verses 4-7 that people who personify Christian love are “not arrogant or rude,” they do not “insist on their own way,” are “not irritable or resentful,” and do “not rejoice at wrongdoing.” Rather, they rejoice in “the truth.” People who are guided by 1 Corinthians 13 in how they treat other people are walking worthy of their calling and living lives of significance.
Commit to Pleasing God Instead of the World
One of the principal reasons we sometimes lie is to tell others what they want to hear. We want to please our peers rather than God. Seeking to please God rather than the world will never be easy. You can do well today and backslide tomorrow. This happens to all of us. Because of our fallen nature, we will always feel the lure of worldly approval. When you find yourself wanting to please your peers instead of God, don’t despair. You are going to be tempted, but remember temptation is not in and of itself sin. Giving in to temptation is sin, but being tempted isn’t. Therefore, when you feel tempted to seek worldly recognition, approval, and validation, do these three things: 1) pray for God’s help, 2) seek guidance in Scripture, and 3) seek the wise counsel of fellow believers.
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press and Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith, Salem Books, an imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2019: www.david-goetsch.com