SERIES: “TAMING THE TONGUE”
Topic: “To Tell The Truth”
Texts: Ephesians 4:25; Matthew 5:33-37
Aim: to learn why honesty is so important.
LIE DETECTOR TEST: In tonight’s conversation we will consider the importance of HONESTY in our speech, but first: just for fun, let’s check out our “lie detector” ability with the following “TRUE – FALSE” questions.
DISCUSSION QUESTION: Do you think you can usually tell when someone is being dishonest? Can you identify when someone is lying to you?
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: 1. Who do you suppose would be more likely to tell you a lie: a stranger, or someone you know and see every day? Why? 2. In your opinion, which kind of falsehood would be more destructive in the long term: telling a lie to a stranger, or telling a lie to someone you know and see every day? Why?
DISCUSSION QUESTION: All of us have been on the receiving end of dishonesty at one time or another, but: How do you FEEL when you realize that someone has been lying to you?
Last week we learned that we can use our speech to TEAR others down or we can use it to BUILD them up. In this conversation we will consider a sin that can tear down the bonds of trust between people: Dishonesty! Please TURN to the book of Ephesians (near the middle of your New Testament), Chapter 4.
READ Verse 25. In this verse we are told that one reason we must be truthful with our brothers and sisters is because “we are members of one body.” DISCUSSION QUESTION: Why do you suppose Paul reminds them of their mutual membership in the church? And, what does that suggest to you about dishonesty?
DISCUSSION QUESTION: Paul’s comment about being “members of one body” reminds us that if we are UNTRUTHFUL, we will eventually be considered UNTRUSTWORTHY. How might it affect the quality of our life if we gained a reputation for being dishonest? What are some of the ways it could hurt ME if I lie to YOU?
DISCUSSION QUESTION: The seriousness of the sin of dishonesty may be seen in the fact that in Revelation 21 (the next-to-last chapter in the Bible) when the Lord is discussing the judgment to come, he says “All liars will have their place in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.” (verse 8) Dishonesty is so serious that it not only damages our relationship with others, but also can destroy our relationship with God! Why, then, do you suppose falsehood is so prevalent? What are some reasons why people are tempted to tell a lie?
DISCUSSION QUESTION: People often speak of a “little white lie.” Do you think that some types of falsehood are different from others? Are there degrees of dishonesty? Why, or why not?
DISCUSSION QUESTION: Do you believe it would be morally right to tell the complete truth IF you knew that it would hurt someone’s feelings? Why, or why not?
DISCUSSION QUESTION: Should you divulge everything you know IF you realize it would cause great harm to someone else? What if innocent people would die as a result? In your opinion, what is the difference between DECEPTION and DISCRETION?
[Background Note: For cases in which complete disclosure would endanger innocent life, we could consider the midwives who protected newborn baby boys from Pharaoh (Exodus 1:15-22); Rahab who hid the spies (Joshua 2:1-24); Jonathan, who did not tell his father Saul of David’s whereabouts (1 Samuel 20:28); and perhaps Jesus, who instructed his followers on several occasions to keep quiet about what they knew (Matthew 8:4, 16:20, 17:9). It is important to note that in each of these cases the people involved were unselfishly trying to protect OTHERS, not selfishly manipulating the truth to promote THEIR OWN interests.]
DISCUSSION QUESTION: Proverbs 26:28 says, “A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” Flattery is a very specific form of dishonesty. How can you tell when someone is “buttering you up” and how do you feel when you realize they’re doing it?
Background Note: The Scriptures contain many condemnations of flattery. See Psalm 12:3; Proverbs 29:5; Romans 16:18; 1 Thessalonians 2:5.
DISCUSSION QUESTION: Proverbs 28:23 says, “He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue.” And, Proverbs 27:5-6 tells us, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Why is it so difficult to be totally honest with a friend when you realize he or she is headed in the wrong direction? Why is it hard to “rebuke” someone when they need it?
DISCUSSION QUESTION: If you really want your friends to be candid in their responses, what do you need to do? Is there something you can do to encourage your friends to be totally honest with you?
Now TURN to the gospel of Matthew (the first book of the New Testament), Chapter 5. READ Verses 33-37 DISCUSSION QUESTION: When people back up their statements with strong expressions like “I swear” or “Cross my heart,” does it make them seem MORE believable or you or LESS credible? Why, or why not?
RE-READ Verse 37 DISCUSSION QUESTION: What do you think Jesus means when he says, “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your “No,’ ‘No’”? What does this statement mean to you?
SUMMARY STATEMENT: Jesus said that we must be a people whose integrity is so well known that we don’t need to back up our statements with oaths. If we are habitually untruthful, people will come to consider us as untrustworthy, and if we are untrustworthy, then our dishonesty breaks the bonds of trust and confidence on which our relationships must rely.
© Dan Williams
TRUE – FALSE 1. Most children are not capable of telling a lie until they reach the age of 4 or above. [FALSE About 70% of children from 2.5 to 3 years old tell lies, and in fact some are quite good at it.]
TRUE – FALSE 2. Young children will lie about their actions, but not about their feelings. [TRUE]
TRUE – FALSE 3. Men are twice as likely as women to “call in sick” to get a day off from work. [TRUE. 29% of men have pretended to be sick to get off, compared to 14% of women.]
TRUE – FALSE 4. Men are more likely to lie to make themselves look good, while women are more likely to tell a lie to make others feel good. [TRUE]
TRUE – FALSE 5. According to some researchers, non-verbal signs that indicate someone is telling a lie include: avoiding eye contact, licking the lips, and stuttering or stammering. [PERHAPS TRUE. Other indications cited are rubbing the nose more often, blinking less often, clearing the throat, and shifting in the seat.]
TRUE – FALSE 6. A policeman can usually spot a liar more accurately than can a judge. [FALSE. Cops guess right only 50% of the time; judges accurately identified 62% of liars; CIA agents, who receive special training in behavioral clues, can spot liars 72% of the time.]
TRUE – FALSE 7. A polygraph machine, better known as a “lie detector” machine, always provides an accurate analysis of whether a person is telling the truth or not. [FALSE. Repeated scientific studies have demonstrated that polygraphs have an accuracy rate of only 80% to 90%. An article in this month’s issue of Radiology, however, suggests that MRI brain scans may be more accurate in detecting deception.]
TRUE – FALSE 8. College students today are more likely to cheat on homework and exams than previous generations. [TRUE. Multiple studies have found that cheating among both high school and college students has increased significantly, with estimates of occasional cheaters ranging from 60% to 75%.]
TRUE – FALSE 9. The worst cheaters in college are the business majors. [FALSE. But they ran a close second. A survey of nearly 50,000 students at 69 schools found that 26% of business majors admitted to serious cheating on exams, but they were edged out by journalism majors, 27% of whom said they cheated on exams. QUESTION: What would you guess was the major with the most honest college students? ANSWER: Scientists: Only 19% of science students said they cheated on their exams.]
TRUE – FALSE 10. Professional politicians are much more accomplished liars than the average person. [TRUE. Successful politicians tend to be much better at concealing non-verbal cues that they are being dishonest.]
[Sources: http://www.intelihealth.com; www.news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2209445.stm; BusinessWeek, “Biz Majors Get an F For Honesty,” February 6, 2006, p. 14; www.rd.com/content/openContent.do?contentId=15355;
www.virginia.edu/topnews/textonlyarchive/October_1996/campaign.txt; AARP Magazine, Jan/Feb 2006, p. 16]