Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.
A Half-Truth Is a Whole Lie
Do you remember in the Garden of Eden where Satan deceived Eve by trying to make her believe God said one thing when He actually said another? He asked Eve whether God told her that she couldn’t eat from any tree in the garden (Gen 3:1). Eve corrected him and said that they could eat of any tree in the garden except the one that was in the midst of the garden and that if they did they’d die (Gen 3:2-3). But then Eve added something to what God had originally said. She said you can’t even touch it or you’ll die, so she ended up telling a half-truth to the father of lies (John 8:44), Satan (Gen 3:3). Satan tried to tell Eve that she wouldn’t die, but, of course, you can’t ever trust anything the Devil says. Satan has had his conscience seared so much that it doesn’t bother him to tell lies. If we tell half the truth, we have really told a whole lie because anything less than the whole truth is a whole lie. Does it bother you to tell a half-truth?
Sins of Omission
When I was a young child, I was babysitting my brother and sister. They ended up breaking something in the living room, and I was watching TV while they were playing. I should have been watching them because they were playing with a ball in the house, which I was told was forbidden, but I didn’t do anything about it. Sure enough, the ball bounced off the floor and into a ceramic fruit dish and shattered it. When my parents got home, I said, “I had no idea they had a ball in the house, and I didn’t even see the ceramic fruit dish get broken.” I had just told one lie (I had seen them with the ball in the house) and then a half-lie (I didn’t really see the broken dish), but it was really two lies. In fact, I didn’t see the ceramic fruit dish get broken; that was part of the truth. But the whole truth was I knew that what they were doing was wrong and I didn’t stop them from playing ball in the house, so I was responsible. I had committed a sin of omission. By omitting part of the truth, I had told a whole lie.
Mixing Truth with Error
Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, had just sold some of their property and pretended to say they gave it all to the church. Part of it they did give to the church, but part of it they withheld, so their lying cost them their life (Acts 5:1-1). Paul had to constantly deal with Judaizers who were trying to mix legalism with the gospel, and Paul was no doubt angry when he wrote the Galatians that he was amazed they had so quickly departed from the real gospel and believed another gospel, a perverted version of it (Gal 1:6). Parts of the gospel the Judaizers told were true–the part of Jesus’ death on the cross–but when they added legalistic requirements to it, it became perverted and not the real gospel at all (Gal 1:7). If I offered you some bottled water but told you that there was only one tiny drop of poison in it, not actually enough to kill you or even hurt you, you’d likely not want any of it. So we should all be troubled if we are telling a half-truth or omitting all the truth. Pride is almost always at the heart of it so that we’ll look better in other people’s eyes or we won’t hurt someone’s feelings, but we must always speak the truth, even if it’s painful, and do it in love (Eph 4:15).
A Closing Prayer
Great, righteous Father, please forgive me when I omit the full story and deceive people by telling them half-truths and when I mix error with truth. Help me to always speak the truth in love at all times, and in Jesus’ name I pray.
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