Yesterday I took my mother to a new hairdresser. When we left the building, I asked Mom if she had left a tip. She said, “She charged me $30!” That was my mother’s way of saying no. I reached into my wallet and grabbed six ones, went back into the salon, handed the cash to the beautician, and said, “She forgot to give you this.”
Upon exiting the premises I thought to myself, “Wow, I just lied. I didn’t even think twice about it.”
Neither would this incident have risen to the level of consciousness except that I am married to a man who has zero tolerance in his own life for untruth and exaggeration and makes no distinction between white and other-colored lies—all of which has made me more conscious of what comes out of my mouth. (Maybe the next step after “Be slow to speak” should be “Filter out the fibs.”)
The man on the street may not be alarmed by this story. But more’s the pity for the man on the street. What has the devil done to us that we dismiss God’s command, saying that lies are harmless greasing of the wheel? Furthermore, in hindsight I can see that there was no absolute necessity for the grease: I could have walked in, handed over the tip with a smile, and said nothing.
But here is the larger point: What may seem to us as harmless social lying is not without consequence. This moment’s verbal convenience makes it easier to lie the next moment. Some spiritual barrier has been breached that, once breached, brings your soul into a new dimension. The sky didn’t fall, so it confirmed you a slight degree more in philosophical materialism: Lies don’t matter. Nothing matters.
“With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?” (Psalm 12:4).
Multiply this dynamic by the number of people in town, and then in the nation, and pretty soon you have lies routinely floated out to grease the wheel of governmental policies—all the way to the top. Once those termites in the foundation reach critical mass, there’s no telling what will happen to the country—after all, how strong is a house that’s entirely built of lies.
Or as the Apostle put it:
“A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9).