It takes a lot of effort to support a lie. Can you remember a time when a little “white lie” led to another lie, and then to another?
The chief priests and elders of Jesus’ day did not know how to deal with an empty tomb and the possibility that Jesus, whom they crucified, was raised from the dead. Most everything that Jesus said and did was outside their paradigm for a Messiah. His resurrection was untenable to them. So, they devised a lie and paid those who were guarding his tomb a large sum of money to testify to the lie. As Matthew reports, “Then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, ‘You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’ The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed.” (Mt. 28:12-13, 15)
Providing cover for a lie can get complicated, taking time, creating anxiety and exacting an emotional toll. How often have we seen public figures pay a high price for living a lie, sometimes costing them their marriage, family, career and, like the chief priests, even hush money?
In contrast, I have a friend, Pat, who had struggled to get a job after completing her master’s degree. She obtained temporary work at a small university to write a report about the effectiveness of a federal grant for a media center to improve teaching methods. When her report included survey data about the lack of use of the media center by the faculty, she was asked by the department chair to alter the data so that he and the university would not look bad. He implied that a permanent job would be in the offering if she acceded to his request, but probably not if she refused. Pat refused to go along with the lie. The job was not offered. But Pat’s conscience was clear, and her response helped her get even a better job months later.
Truth is less complicated than a lie. It is liberating. It is cleansing. The lack of truth is an obstacle to the Holy Spirit acting in our lives, while its presence testifies to the power of God.
Jesus said, “If you remain in my word…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. I am the way the truth and the life.” (John 8:32; 14:6)
How much do we value the truth? How much is a lie costing us?