“And stop lying to each other. You have given up your old way of life with its habits.” Colossians 3:9 (CEV)
Most Sunday mornings, I love going to church.
I grab a cup of hazelnut coffee from the lobby and settle in near the front row. I grow from the sermons. I enjoy the assortment of worship opportunities — from acoustic guitar hymns to modern songs that include a spoken word poet. Most of all, I’m grateful for the people who make up the congregation, each uniquely made in God’s image.
However, one Sunday morning found me wanting to break free from that place and run as far as my legs would take me. What caused me to want to escape the spiritual family I adore so much? It was when my pastor made an assertion smack-dab in the middle of a sermon I was rather enjoying, completely wrecking me. It was this: People pleasers often lie.
Suddenly, no longer was I a face in a crowd, sweetly sipping my creamy, hot beverage and taking notes in my whimsical journal. I felt as if one of the spotlights that hung from the ceiling — normally fixated on the stage — had suddenly drop-swiveled directly toward me, placing my bright red face in portrait mode. I imagined everyone giving me the side-glance, surely knowing that Pastor Justin was referring to me.
That morning, I had to concede in my heart that my pastor was right. People pleasers often lie. And I was one fantastic fibber.
Oh, I had good reasons for my less-than-straightforward speech. Sometimes, I slightly twisted the truth so I wouldn’t hurt someone’s feelings when asked for my opinion. Other times, I failed to be honest because I was afraid my response might upset a friend or coworker. Still in other situations, I outright lied just to avoid a confrontation with someone over a political or other hot-topic issue. And I also admit there were times I only told half the truth, conveniently leaving parts out. However, as I often tell my children, “A half-truth is still a whole lie.”
At the root of all these varied forms of dishonesty is this commonality: I lied in order to please someone else. However, all this twisting, shading, fibbing and half-truth telling certainly does not please the only One who matters — the Lord.
In Colossians 3:9, the Apostle Paul urges believers, “And stop lying to each other. You have given up your old way of life with its habits.” Deceit is associated with our behavior before we became followers of Christ. It is not something that should be a character quality of those who’ve responded to the gospel and become believers.
The original Greek word for the English phrase “have given up” (v. 9) is the verb apekduomai. It means to strip something completely and emphatically off yourself, to throw something far away. This action is to be performed by the person who is being untruthful.
Elsewhere in Scripture, we are told to hold two seemingly opposite actions in tension as we interact with others — to speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15) I find often we perform only one of those actions while leaving the other behind, depending on our personality types. Either we bark out the truth in an unloving manner or we falsely assume that the only loving thing to do is not to tell the truth at all.
Thankfully, I know from experience that God can empower us to strip off our dishonest ways, no matter how justified our lies may seem. We can learn to roll our truths in a blanket of love — remembering it is God we seek to please, not others. Let’s learn to retrain our brains, not thinking “What do they want me to say?” but instead praying “Lord, help me to speak the truth in love.”
Father, please tap me on the heart when I am tempted to lie, and enable me to instead speak honestly but also in a loving way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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Need more help to be honest with others and avoid the people-pleasing trap? Check out Karen Ehman’s newest book, When Making Others Happy Is Making You Miserable: How to Break the Pattern of People Pleasing and Confidently Live Your Life.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
1 Peter 3:10, “For the Scriptures say, ‘If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies.’” (NLT)
Are you sometimes tempted to shade the truth so you won’t upset, disappoint or even anger someone? What goal might you make that will help you “keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies”?
We’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s devotion. Chime in over in the comments.
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