The Lies We Tell Day 3: The Impact of Lies
A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish. (Proverbs 19:9, ESV)
The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death. The violence of the wicked will sweep them away, because they refuse to do what is just. The way of the guilty is crooked, but the conduct of the pure is upright. (Proverbs 21:6-8, ESV)
For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. (Luke 8:17, ESV)
Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak. May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts, those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?” “Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.” The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. (Psalm 12:2-6, ESV)
Charles Ponzi was an Italian immigrant who came up with one of the most famous financial lies in United States history. His company, the Securities Exchange Company, allegedly bought and sold stamps, seeking to take advantage of arbitrage by buying a stamp cheaper in one country and selling it for more money in another country. He told investors that he would be able to provide a 50% return on investment in just 90 days. As new investors poured money into his fund, he would use those contributions to pay out the older investors and make it seem like he made them money through the buying and selling of stamps.
At the height of his scheme, Ponzi was pulling in about $250,000 a day (about $3 million a day in today’s money) from investors. The scheme was so “successful” that investors often re-invested their earnings back into the company so they could make more money. Unfortunately, the returns weren’t real, Ponzi was eventually found out, and thousands of Boston-area workers realized they had been duped and lost millions of dollars. Ponzi was arrested and, after a series of prison stints, lived his last few years in poverty. His health deteriorated, his wife left him, and he died alone in a charity hospital in Brazil. The man who once was on top of the world, living in a mansion and driving the finest cars, was reduced to nothing after his lie was uncovered.
Most people will never concoct a series of lies that leads to the swindling of millions of dollars and eventual financial ruin. However, the lies we tell can still have a major effect. In our previous study, we referenced several Bible characters and the lies they told. Achan’s lie led to his and his family’s deaths. Abraham’s lie led to Abimelech’s being confronted by God in a dream. King David’s lie led to the ruin of a family, the death of Uriah, and the death of his own child. Peter’s lie led to his shame as he denied Christ. Ananias and Sapphira’s lie led to their deaths. Satan’s lie led to the fall of mankind. Sarah’s lie led to her being called out by the Lord.
Can you think of a lie you’ve told that had serious consequences? I know I can. Lies can lead to broken friendships, severed relationships, hurt feelings, distrust, discord within a local church, among many other things. The severity of the consequences doesn’t determine whether or not the lie is okay to tell, though. The Bible tells us that every one of our sins will be uncovered. It may not happen here on earth, but we will all be judged for what we’ve done by the One who sits on the throne. Unbelievers will face judgment at the Great White Throne (Revelation 20:11-15), and believers will stand before the Lord at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10).
What may seem like an insignificant lie now is taken seriously by God, regardless of how we feel. It would be my prayer that this study would discourage us from continuing in our lying ways. And if there is a lie you are carrying on as you read this study, correct it and confess it (1 John 1:9). Let us each desire to be more like the One who was without sin each day.