Yesterday I wrote about the importance of honesty. You can read that post HERE. To follow up on that theme, I thought I would share two stories from the scriptures that illustrate how important honesty is.
In Acts 5:1-11 we meet a man named Ananias, and his wife Sapphira. To understand this scripture, it is important to note that in Acts 4 many people in the church sold property they had and used the money to help the poor people in the church. The people who did this were heroes in the church and a lot of people liked them because of their generosity. Ananias and Sapphira wanted the prestige of giving all their money away, but they did not actually give it all away. So they sold a piece of property and only brought part of the money to the church to give away to poor people, but lied and said it was all the money. The leaders of the church somehow knew it was not all the money. We do not know how they found it, but somehow they did. The truth will always come out in the end. When the leaders of the church asked the couple about it, they kept lying and said it was all the money, even though it was not. The leaders of the church pointed out that the property belonging to Ananias and Sapphira and they did not have to sell it to begin with. Even after they sold it, the money belonged to them and they could do whatever they wanted to with it. They did not have to give it all away. They did not have to give any of it away.
The honesty problem was not that they kept part of the money. The problem was that they lied about it, and pretended to give it all when they did not. Those familiar with the story will remember that the result of being caught in the lie was the both Ananias and Sapphira died. It is important to note that the Bible does not say that God killed them. The Bible says that the whole church was filled with fear and then Ananias and his wife died. Apparently, when they realized they were caught in a lie, fear of what would happen so overwhelmed them that they died, probably of heart attacks. The point of this story is that lies have consequences. Those consequences are often much worse than we thought they would be.
The second story is found in Genesis 12:10-13. In that story we meet Abram and his wife Sarai. Abram had to leave his home and travel to a foreign country because a famine ruined all the food in his own area. Abram’s wife Sarai was a very pretty and he was afraid the foreign people would kill him so they could have her. No one had actually threatened to do this; it was just something Abram was worried about. Abram justified lying because he was worried about something that might not even happen. Abram asked his wife to lie and say he was his sister. Sarai did that, but of course then all the Egyptians thought she was available since they did not realize she was married. Pharaoh (the Egyptian King) saw how beautiful she was and brought her to his palace to become his wife. It is unclear if he actually married her, or just brought her to his house. If he did in deed marry her and consummated the marriage, imagine how she must have felt, all because Abram was worried about something that might not even happen. God made the Egyptians get sick as a way to let them know they had done something wrong, even though they did not realize they had done something wrong. God has a way of getting our attention when needed. When Pharaoh found out that Sarai was really Abram’s wife instead of his sister, he was angry at Abram. He made Abram take all his stuff and leave the country. Remember, there was a famine going on everywhere else, so leaving the country was a big deal. If Abram had told the truth, he probably would have been able to stay in the nation until the famine was over. But once he lied, he made powerful people angry at him and the consequences were severe.
From these two stories we learn that lying, to either God or people, can have serious consequences. One of those consequences is living in fear of what will happen if we ever get caught. Another consequence is making important people angry at us. Another consequence is that we may get a worse punishment than if we had just told the truth. Lying is never worth it.