This week we answer two different cases, one written by a woman and the other by a man, both dealing with the same problem. The woman wrote: “How can I be free of lies… or half‑truths? Every time I resolve to tell the truth, I fall back and lie or I have the tendency to exaggerate things.” The man wrote: “I always lie even though I know it’s wrong. Sometimes I can’t help it. It comes out so naturally; it’s spontaneous.”
I have good news for you! Your consciences are working the way God designed them to work. When He told us in the ninth commandment not to lie, He also made it so that our consciences would remind us each time we break that commandment.
When I was a child, my mother taught me to lie. She would instruct me to answer the phone and tell the caller that she wasn’t home. On mornings when she was hung over and didn’t feel like going to work, I would be the one to call and say she was sick. Before my mother and father were divorced, she would ask me to tell him something that wasn’t true so that he wouldn’t get mad at her. And I heard both of them lie to people all the time. It was a way of life.
So it is no wonder that as I grew older, I lied all the time. It was so much easier than telling the truth! I wouldn’t even have to think about it; it just happened spontaneously, as one of you described. But then I came to know Jesus Christ as my Savior and, because of my personal relationship with Him, I knew I couldn’t lie anymore. So I made the decision that for the rest of my life I would always tell the truth.
But, oh, how hard it was! Even though it was many years ago, I can still remember how I struggled. Each time a lie came out of my mouth, I had to follow it quickly by saying, “No, that’s not true. What I should have said was….” And then I would tell the truth no matter how painful it was. After doing this for a long time, I finally broke the bad habit of lying. Once telling the truth became my new habit, it was much easier to avoid lying.
Just like other kinds of sin, lying is very easy to start and very difficult to stop. Most little children begin lying soon after they learn to speak, even if their parents always tell the truth. Lying for them is usually a way to avoid punishment. At that early age, it is difficult for children to comprehend the difference between the truth and a lie. That is why parents should teach them, in an age‑appropriate manner, both through discipline and by example.
Because I knew how difficult it was to avoid lying, I always gave our children second chances when I suspected they were lying. I would say, “I want you to think about what you just said. Are you sure that’s what you want to say? You can have another chance to change your answer if you want.” This was the way I helped them learn to think carefully before speaking. The truth is, some of our five children learned the lesson better than others!
I congratulate you both on your desire to stop all lying. Now find a friend or relative that you can enlist who is willing to keep you accountable.
It won’t be easy, but you can do it!