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The Seven Levels of Lying
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Every person on the planet at times is an Oscar-winning liar. Haven't we all lied without being caught? As the Bible says, "There is no one righteous, not even one …. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit" (Rom. 3:10-13). My husband and I, aware of this reality, have made a pact. If either of us lies to the other, we are committed to confessing the lie within three days.

Perhaps my most common lie is to tell myself I can do things in less time than I actually can. And lying to myself in this way sets me up to lie to others. How many times have I told my husband that I would arrive at a certain time and place when in my heart I wasn't genuinely committed to following through on my word? I told him that I'd be there, but I wasn't. My husband has learned not to trust me, because my actions don't always line up with my words.

To justify myself, I'd like to view my tardiness as a minor character flaw. In other words, I'd like to be untruthful about the selfishness that characterizes my way of managing time. Early in our marriage, I argued vehemently that lateness and lying are unrelated matters. I didn't want to see the truth because the truth indicted me.

It's not fun to be reminded of the humbling fact that everyone needs to be prompted, indeed, regularly goaded, to be truthful in our speech and in our hearts. All of us are susceptible. We all know what it's like to take refuge in the escape route of lying. When it goes unchecked, we hardly even notice how far we have drifted. We've probably all seen a leader who intimidates and blames instead of owning the mistake that everybody knows the leader made.

Lying is more perilous than ...

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The Seven Levels of Lying
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In the Magazine

May 2011

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