In the last blog, I wrote about Mary, an elderly believer in our church. She is illiterate, very uneducated and there was a time, many in our church thought of her as the wayside land in the Parable of the Sower. I wrote a previous blog on that. But, she has become a paragon of Christian virtues, except she does not even know that. Oh, how mightily our Creator shapes our lives!
As I had written before, I asked our church members to stop lying at all costs. I told them how when we lie, we may have thousand excuses, but the devil being the father of all lies, those who lie become the children of devil (John 8:44). I thought those words did not have any impact on anyone and was actually discouraged. Then comes Mary, with her testimony.
As mentioned earlier, her husband is a drunkard. He works in another city and every month, he would visit her with his savings. But then he would get drunk, and beat her up and take back all the money, and would get drunk again. By the time he leaves back for his work, he would have wasted all the money he brought with him and also, whatever savings Mary had. So, like all Indian women who are married to drunkards, Mary also developed a self-defence mechanism: lying.
Most of the women in such situations, would lie about the money when their husbands are drunk. They would say how they paid all the debts and hence have no money left. At times, their drunk husbands may become furious and beat them up ever so sincerely, but at least the money would be there. Sometimes, the drunkards would get frustrated as they need money for drinking, and hence would leave their wives without beating so that they can find some other source.
Now, it is easy for me to sit at my home and tell that for a Christian woman to lie is a sin. Make no mistake, lying is a sin. But I am not the one who is going to be beaten up; I am not the one who is going to lose all my savings if I speak the truth. So for some preachers, this is a very sensitive subject. I have heard preachers encourage and even praise their women believers for acting wisely – that is, telling lies to deceive their husbands, as Jesus Himself has said that we should be wise like a serpent. So, it is okay to lie in such situations. Oh, I am not an expert, but when Jesus told us to be wise like a serpent, He probably did not ask us to become like “the serpent.”
And in my monologue about lying, I asked our believers, what would happen when we always tell the truth – will we gain or lose? Immediately everyone enthusiastically told that we would gain a lot if we tell the truth. I pointed out to them that if that is true, no one would ever tell a lie. I told them that when we tell the truth, we will suffer a lot – in every way. But then aren’t we called to suffer for the sake of Christ? Aren’t we supposed to count as loss whatever gain we had, for the sake of Christ? I told them that when we start telling the truth, we will suffer and we will have certain setbacks. But then the LORD will be pleased with us.
Mary took this monologue to her heart and she decided not to lie anymore. When her husband asked her the next time, in his drunken stupor, where she had hidden the money, she told him the truth and he took all the money and got drunk. Apparently, this had happened few times, leaving her penniless for few months. But she braved through it, rejoicing that she was suffering for the sake of Christ and she did not tell any of us about this.
But then, last year, around November, something happened. No, her husband did not stop drinking and surely, he did not become a believer. But when he came home, he brought a huge sum (nearly $2000) in savings. And when he was at home, he did not drink at all and went back to his work without wasting any money. Of course, he still drinks where he is working, but he manages to save lot more than he would, and he brings home huge amounts every month since then. In Indian rupees, we are talking about huge amounts. For the last five months, Mary has been blessed so abundantly, all because she stopped lying and chose to suffer for the sake of Christ. And our Lord does not ignore the sufferings of His children. How sweet and gracious our Lord is!
Two years back, during worship, I was talking about Jesus is the Truth and no falsehood is found in Him. I asked our believers to take up a challenge: that for one week, they would not tell a single lie. They may choose not to speak; but whatever they speak, it has to be absolute truth. To my utter dismay, only 6 people were ready to take up the challenge. When they came the next week, only 4 of us had not told any lies at all in a week. I explained to them that devil is the father of all lies and whenever we tell a lie, we become his children (John 8:44), and hence exhorted our church believers to desist from telling lies.
Yesterday, January 15th, 2017, the worship was based on Matthew 1:21, wherein the angel says to Joseph in his dream, “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” The emphasis was on “He will save His people.” And I cross-referenced that verse to Isaiah 63:8: For He said, “Surely they are My people, children who will not deal falsely.” So He became their Saviour. When I explained that this is how the Lord sees us, as His people, children who will not deal falsely, the church was so excited; everyone were clapping their hands and shouting “Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!”
Then I told the church that one of the translations (NKJV) actually says that “children who will not lie.” So, I asked the church to raise hands if they had not told any lie since the beginning of the new year. I was expecting quite a few hands to be raised as it has been only 15 days, right? And to my utter chagrin, it was the same 6 people who raised their hands this time too.
It is really sad that Christians do not consider telling lies as a sin; it is a peccadillo at the best. Oh, God won’t punish you for small lies; He understands them. It is the big sins He is after – idolaters, sexually immoral, people who are into witchcraft – these people, yes, the Lord will deal with them severely. But, liars, you know, it is just a weakness. I heard a preacher consoling one of the believers when she was convicted in her spirit, when I spoke about lying.
Revelation 21:8 says: “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and ALL LIARS shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (NKJV, emphasis mine). Oh, may the Truth of God prevail among Christians and we truly become “children who will not lie.” Amen.
This Sunday, I was watching a sermon on TV from a pastor in Chennai. He is the leader of one of the biggest churches in the world. He was preaching about “peace”. As he was preaching about living peacefully, he said something that bothered me.
“If there is a problem with someone, even if you have not done anything wrong, even if the mistake is entirely because of the other person, you should go and tell that other person that you are sorry and you should ask for their forgiveness. If you can not ask forgiveness, then you are not a true Christian and you surely are going to burn in hell.” (Paraphrased)
Really? I understand that as a Christian, one of the first acts that I need to do is repent for my sins and seek the forgiveness of the LORD. And also I should seek the forgiveness of those who are wronged by me. But… am I going to burn in hell because I am not seeking the forgiveness for something that I did not commit and from the person who did commit it? Really?
God willing, I will deal with the topic of burning in hell in another blog. But I want to point out one of the biggest stumbling block in Christian life – being overly righteous.
Yes, we are called to be peace-loving and peace-seeking. But does that mean we need to say, “I am sorry, please forgive me” when we have not done something? Let us see how many things are wrong in this one statement when we have not done anything that is wrong – according to the Word of God.
I am sorry. Yes, we all can say that. But honestly, are we really sorry? No, we can not be really sorry when we have not done anything wrong that we regret. So, in essence when we say “I am sorry”, we are lying. And guess who is the father of all lies? In John 8:44, our Lord Jesus Christ clearly says that devil is the father of all lies. So, even though we are saying something that is really good and polite, when we don’t mean it, it is a lie and we have fallen into the web of lies that the devil has woven.
Please forgive me. How can anyone ask forgiveness for themselves for something they didn’t commit? (Okay, here I am not talking about interceding with God for the sins others’ have committed, like Nehemiah and Daniel did; nor I am talking about you interceding on behalf of someone who is close to you, like Abigail did for her husband Nabal.) So, the only reason we are asking forgiveness is to appease the other person. But aren’t we Christians have a different calling? Not to please men, but to please God. (1 Thess. 2:4)
Just one statement that sounds polite and so correct in human terms. But that will make us the children of devil and pleasers of men. So, instead of being overly righteous and seeking peace in ways that the Bible does not advocate, let us seek the peace that surpasses all human understanding (Philippians 4:7), the peace that our Lord Jesus Christ has given us by His sacrifice on the Cross (John 14:27). Let us not forget what the Bible tells about following the LORD (Proverbs 4:27):
|Psalm 119:130“The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”
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