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Little White Lies

When my oldest son was 5 and my youngest son at the time was 2½ , I witnessed something that forever changed me as a naive parent.

It was evening, and I was barbecuing chicken outside. I had put the meat on low and came inside for a few minutes, leaving my two young sons playing in the front yard. I had left clear, verbal instructions to the boys "Don't play in the water."

I was in the kitchen just a couple of minutes when I heard Wendell from the bedroom say to me, "Hey babe, come here."

I walked into the bedroom and over to the window where Wendell was standing. I followed his gaze outside to the front yard where my oldest son was filling a 5-gallon bucket from the hose.

"Didn't you tell the boys not to play in the water?" "Why yes, yes I did!"

I started to head for the door, very upset, when Wendell encouraged me to watch for a minute. "Let's see what he is up to."

Much to my disbelief my oldest son pushed his two year old brother, butt-first into that bucket, now filled to the brim with fresh water from the hose. My small child was completely submerged with his armpits and the back of his knees holding him in place.

That was it. I headed for the door yelling. What happened next is what changed me.

My 5 year old insisted his brother picked up the bucket and dumped it over himself.

Two year old child. Five gallons of water. Approximately 40 plus pounds of weight. NOT possible and he insisted!! And he kept insisting. I asked him to show me how. He could not lift the bucket off the ground, but kept insisting. I finally told him I had stood in the window and watched him, he still insisted! A little white lie?

If I had not seen it with my own eyes, I would have had a hard time reconciling how the 2 year old had gotten wet because the oldest was so believable. He was sent to his room for disobeying and I washed his mouth out with soap for lying to me. I know! I know! But in my defense, that was almost 40 years ago and it’s what you did.

Trust. I tried teaching my children that trust is a precious commodity. When trust is broken, it usually never looks the same again. And when there is no trust, or trust has been damaged, there is no strong foundation to grow on, or frankly to stand on.

Lying is not just a children’s malady either. I think adults soften the title by calling them little white lies. Wendell had a few expressions and one of them was "If your word's no good, you're no good." Harsh! But it was his way of saying, if what comes out of your mouth is not truth, you cannot be trusted in any regard.

If you are not speaking truth when you speak, then you are speaking untruth. And I think I speak for most of us when I say, I need to thrive in an environment built on trust and truth-speaking.

We are representatives of Christ Jesus, of our Heavenly Father, of Heaven itself, and if we cannot be honest over the little stuff, we will never be honest over the big stuff. If we cannot admit fault when it was our fault, there is a lot of growth that needs to happen.

The requirement for being truthful is woven into the very fabric of God's Royal Law: The 10 Commandments. We don't get to pick and choose. It's all or nothing.

"We know lying is a sin (Leviticus 19:11; Proverbs 12:22). But what about those “little white lies” that involve an ever-so-slight stretching of the truth? Do the small lies matter, or are they harmless? What if telling the truth might hurt someone?

“Lying is defined as “making an untrue statement with the intent to deceive.” A white lie is an untrue statement, but it is usually considered unimportant because it does not cover up a serious wrongdoing. A white lie is deceptive, but it may also be polite or diplomatic at the same time. It could be a “tactful” lie told to keep the peace in a relationship; it could be a “helpful” lie to ostensibly benefit someone else; it could be a “minor” lie to make oneself look better in some area.

"Some white lies are common: lying about one’s age, for example, or the size of the fish that got away. We live in a society that conditions us to lie by telling us that, in many situations, lies are justified. The secretary “covers” for the boss who doesn’t want to be disturbed; the salesman exaggerates the qualities of his product; the job applicant pads his résumé. The reasoning is, as long as no one is hurt or the result is good, little lies are fine.

“It is true that some sins bring about worse consequences than others. And it is true that telling a white lie will not have the same serious effect as, say, murdering someone. But all sins are equally offensive to God (Romans 6:23), and there are good reasons to avoid telling white lies.

“First, the belief that a white lie is “helpful” is rooted in the idea that the end justifies the means. If the lie results in a perceived “good,” then the lie was justified. However, God’s condemnation of lying in Proverbs 6:16–19 contains no exception clause. Also, who defines the “good” that results from the lie? A salesman telling white lies may sell his product—a “good” thing for him—but what about the customer who was taken advantage of?

“Telling a white lie to be “tactful” or to spare someone’s feelings is also a foolish thing to do. A person who consistently lies to make people feel good will eventually be seen for what he is: a liar. Those who traffic in white lies will damage their credibility.

“White lies have a way of propagating themselves. Telling more lies to cover up the original lie is standard procedure, and the lies get progressively less “white.” Trying to remember what lies were told to what person also complicates relationships and makes further lying even more likely.

“Telling a white lie to benefit oneself is nothing but selfishness. When our words are motivated by the pride of life, we are falling into temptation (1 John 2:16).

“Little white lies are often told to preserve the peace, as if telling the truth would in some way destroy peace. Yet the Bible presents truth and peace as existing together: “Love truth and peace” (Zechariah 8:19). Tellers of white lies believe they are speaking lies out of “love”; however, the Bible tells us to speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

“Sometimes telling the truth is not easy; in fact, it can be downright unpleasant. But we are called to be truth-tellers. Being truthful is precious to God (Proverbs 12:22); it demonstrates the fear of Lord. Furthermore, to tell the truth is not a suggestion, it is a command (Psalm 15:2; Zechariah 8:16; Ephesians 4:25). Being truthful flies in the face of Satan, the “father of lies” (John 8:44). Being truthful honors the Lord, who is the “God of truth” (Psalm 31:5, ISV).(source:

by Jeanette Stark – Monday, January 9, 2023

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