Saturday, December 31, 2011

THE BELT OF TRUTH

"So put on God's armor now! Then when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist the enemy's attack; and after fighting to the end, you will still hold your ground. So stand ready, with Truth as a belt tight around your waist, with righteousness as your breastplate, and as your shoes, the readiness to announce the Good News of peace. At all times carry faith as a shield...and accept salvation as a helmet, and the Word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you."
~Ephesians 6:13-17

Have you ever noticed how lies have a way of multiplying? You tell one lie, and soon you are backing it up with another. Before you know it, you can't keep straight in your mind what you told to whom. After a while, these lies begin to masquerade as truth in your own mind. It's a scary place to be.

I remember a lie I told my mom when I was about eighteen years old. I told it after I splurged and purchased a belt for myself that was way too expensive. My mom had told me I could use her credit card to purchase a new top. But when I saw the belt, I had to have it. I reasoned that I wanted it more than a top. Besides, my mom would never know that the charge I was making was for a belt instead of the top she said I could buy.

My mom has an eye for fashion. The first time she saw me wearing my new belt, she commented on it. She said that it looked expensive, and asked me how I'd paid for it. I told her I'd managed to purchase it along with the top, and hoped she didn't mind. She smiled and said it was fine.

A couple of weeks later, my mom approached me with her credit card bill. She asked me point blank if I'd spent the large amount on her bill for a belt as the statement was suggesting. I lied and told her "no", that the total was for a top as well. She said it was okay if I did. She said she occasionally treated herself to something extravagant, and she'd understand if I did. I held firm to my lie and insisted I had purchased the belt on sale for a great price. I never did fess up to my mom, but I always knew that she knew the truth. And that made my pile of lies all the more injurious ~ to her, to me, and to our relationship.

I am pretty sure my mom has forgotten all about that belt and my attempts to cover up my poor decision of the purchase and the subsequent lies. But I haven't. I remember it like it was yesterday. That experience taught me a lot. It taught me that one lie inevitably leads to another. It taught me that, despite my best efforts to cover my tracks, the truth always seems to surface one way or another. It taught me that lies are hurtful ~ they hurt the recipient as well as the one who is telling the lie. I learned that there is a great deal of wisdom in the old adage, "Honesty is the best policy."

No matter how we rationalize the temptation to be dishonest, the bottom line is that it is wrong. We've all done it, some more than others. But that doesn't justify our actions. Neither does the argument that it is the kinder thing to do in some cases. How about speaking the truth in kindness?

Let's buckle the belt of truth around our waists. If it's included in the armor God wants us wearing everyday, it must be important. And the risks involved in choosing to take it off must be pretty severe when reading about it in this context. I am thankful for the memory of that belt and the lessons it taught me. It has helped me make a better choice when I have been tempted to tell untruths, white lies, half-truths, and exagerations. When we speak the truth in love, we are set free from the fall-out of dishonesty. Now, that's a belt worth wearing!

"We tell lies when we are afraid...afraid of what we don't know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger."
~Tad Williams            

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