Lies travel faster than the truth

Published 5:59pm Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mark Twain once observed, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.”

Most of us have seen fast-moving lies disrupting the lives of people in our neighborhoods, workplaces and even in our churches.

I knew a pastor in north Alabama who became fast friends with a deacon in his church. They often shared lunch or a cup of coffee and conversed. His friend was a car dealer by trade.

In those days the common wisdom was that pastors shouldn’t have close friends and make themselves vulnerable to the “he plays favorites” accusation. And most pastors avoided anything more than a very stilted friendship with female congregants since there were always gossip-mongers who tried to make more of this.

Nevertheless, a rumor started in the north Alabama community that the pastor had become a business partner with the auto dealer. Today we’d probably say “so what?”, but the episode occurred in another era when pastors were supposed to be “unspotted” from the business world. The pastor used his weekly newsletter column to write about his friendship with the deacon and to refute the charge that he was now a business partner.

I was just an outsider looking in while reading the newsletter, but it made me wonder why some in the church would make this charge. Was it an orchestrated effort to sully the pastor’s reputation and to eventually force his resignation? If it was an important issue, those with suspicion could’ve gone to see the pastor and asked for clarification.

A lie can also be a half-truth that comes about when we hear something incorrectly or interpret data wrongly.

This happened years ago when a lady told me I’d offended her husband with my Father’s Day sermon.

“You said he was a sorry daddy,” she said.

What I said was, “If you’d regularly come and worship with your family in church, you’d be even a better daddy. And your children need this.”

The offended man didn’t often come to church so he felt I’d drawn a bull’s eye on him that morning. I went to see him and told him I was in a faith tradition that didn’t use the Bible as a club, but as a mirror, and it wasn’t my intention to offend anyone. But he never could explain to me how he heard something he really didn’t hear.

Twain also said, “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please!”

The Bible is clear. The God of truth expects us to be people of truth. “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor . . . .” (Eph. 4: 25).

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