Thursday, July 25, 2013

Reflections on Proverbs: The Toils of Sin, Part 2

Our verses for this series of posts on the toils of sin are as follows:

The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him,
  and he is caught in the toils of his sin. Proverbs 5:22

There are six things which the Lord hates,
  seven which are an abomination to him;
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
  and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
  feet that make haste to run to evil,
false witness who breathes out lies,
  and a man who sows discord among brothers. Proverbs 6:16-19

The second abomination to God is "a lying tongue." Lies break the social covenant between people. A lie breaks trust, the very trust that allows us to interact with confidence and security. When we no longer have confidence that what a person says is true, the social covenant breaks down.

We've all lied at some point. Sometimes, we lie in little ways, to spare someone's feelings, and call them good lies. "No, those pants don't make your butt look fat." "Oh, your veggie lasagna is delicious!" "Your dog is so cute."

Note how all these little lies are lies of opinion. Whether or not someone looks fat in particular pants is relative; one person might think so, another not. How people taste food is highly variable and subjective; what tastes like slop to you might be perfectly delicious to someone else. Dog cuteness is hugely subjective.

Lying about your opinion to spare someone's feelings feels...kind, like bending the truth rather than breaking it. The truth doesn't matter nearly as much as the unnecessary hurt it will inflict.

But they are still lies, and if you try, you can reword them so they aren't lies. It generally just takes tact and quick thinking. "Oh, you must love this widdle doggie face!"

Sometimes we lie in big ways, and these lies hurt others far worse than the truth ever would. We lie to hide stealing from employers, we lie to excuse using other people for our own purposes, we lie for personal gain, to protect our reputation, to bring others down, to get out of unpleasant social obligations.

The getting of treasure by a lying tongue
  is fleeting vapor and a snare of death. Proverbs 21:6

I know of a man who was recently sent to prison for fleecing a number of people out of their life savings. His lying tongue got him treasure, but he lost it all and is spending his 70s in federal prison.

Lies often cover our sins, such as lying to a spouse about being with friends rather than a lover. Sure, the truth is going to hurt hugely, but finding out your spouse was unfaithful and lied to you causes even greater pain than the truth ever could.

He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
  but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Proverbs 28:13

For me, the subject of lying always brings to mind the story of Jacob and Esau. Jacob was a liar who cheated Esau out of his inheritance, but his lies eventually forced him to flee his home. When he came back, years later, with a huge household and wealth, he met Esau on a field. Esau had an army of 400 at his back and embraced Jacob, welcoming him home joyfully. Jacob was grateful for the forgiveness and healing, but he knew that the covenant was still broken if Esau needed an army of 400 to welcome him. So he went and settled in another area.

Sometimes, trust is so destroyed by lies that the kindest mercy of all for everyone is distance.

The most amazing and wonderful thing about our God is His infinite capacity for mercy and forgiveness. Our earthly covenants with each other may break beyond repair and restoration, but we can never so destroy our covenant with God that it cannot be healed and restored by His amazing grace, through Jesus' death on the Cross.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavishes upon us. Ephesians 1:7-8

Reflection: Think of times you've lied and times you've been lied to. Think of how the social covenant was damaged or destroyed by those lies. Would truth from the start have saved it? If you need forgiveness for lies you have told, how might you start the healing process? If you need to forgive someone for lying to you, how might you start that healing process?

Whatever the situation is, cling always to the mercy and grace of God, for He lavishes them upon us all! All we need to do is ask for them. 

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