It is okay to lie, as long as you have your fingers crossed. At least that was the rule we had as kids. Now the rule is: you can lie, as long as you explain it in the fine print. That’s what they told you when you filed that insurance claim, right? In Jesus’ day they had rules about lying, too. Everyone assumed you were shading the truth, unless you took an oath. The extent to which you could lie under oath (government officials, listen up!) was determined by what you were swearing by. If it was something sacred or highly valuable, then you had to mostly tell the truth. If not… well, then the rules loosened up a bit.
Jesus blasted through all this insanity by saying;
“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Say what you mean and mean what you say. God’s design is for people to tell the truth. Imagine that! Sounds easy, until you consider all of our unwritten rules for “white lies.” But imagine a world in which “Do I look fat in this?” was a real request for honest input, and there was no implied compulsion for a reply that was anything other than the truth. Much easier, much more relaxed, I think. I have lived in cities where everyone assumed you were likely to lie (two forms of id, please…). I’ve lived in small towns where everyone assumed you were telling the truth. I’ll take the latter, any day.
The startling thing here is Jesus’ assertion that anything less comes from Satan, the evil one. Next time you lie (statistics say adults do so on average about 3 times an hour!) think deeply about the root of your motives. See if “the evil one” isn’t peeking out from behind them…
Tell the truth.