But it was just a little white lie…

This post is based on material from Dave Anderson’s book, How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK. It is the first post in a series of five in which we will address common character issues for leaders. Our first character issue is the little white lie.

white lie

Just A White Lie?

“But it was just a little white lie, right?”

How many times have you heard (or thought) this? I know we have all told someone they looked good when, in fact, they may not have. Maybe you told someone you liked their haircut or their new pair of shoes. You get the idea. I am not here to argue that point. I want to know if this behavior is okay in your business. Is it okay to tell white lies as a Christian in business?

Let’s try another line with which you may be more familiar…

“Who is it?…Just tell them that I am not here.”

If you have an assistant or receptionist, I am sure you have said something like this before. If not, congratulations! If so, can you justify saying something like this when you know it is not true? If your people see or hear you saying things like this, what effect do you think it has on their opinion of you? What effect does it have on their own behavior? If it is left unchecked, what behavior does it eventually lead to?

The white lie is so common in our world that most people do not even realize they are telling one. It can take many forms. Some of these may seem harmless (or even helpful) at the time. Some of them are a little more dangerous, but they are justified as being safer than telling the truth (at least at that moment!). Regardless of the rationalization, I think we need to take a long, hard look at this topic.

What Is The Expectation?

So what are we to do as Christian business owners and leaders? What is the expectation of us?

Well, as you probably guessed, I think we need to turn to the Bible for our answer. If we look at Ephesians 4:25, we will see the following verse:

Therefore, putting away all lying, let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.

Obviously, I could point to many other verses that make it clear that we are not to lie, but to tell the truth. This is God’s expectation of us. It is not dependent upon circumstances or conditions. It does not apply only to some people, but to all who claim the name of Jesus.

Good Advice

In How To Run Your Business By The Book, Dave Anderson gives the following key advice:

  1. Tell the truth even when it is not easy, cheap, popular, or convenient.
  2. Tell the truth because it is right, it pleases God, it protects your personal integrity, and honors, rather than diminishes, everyone who hears what you say.
  3. Never, ever ask someone to sin for you by instructing them to lie on your behalf. This is an abuse of your power, position, relationship, and friendship and can destroy your witness as a Christian.

I will leave you with this verse from Luke 16:10

Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much.

I encourage you to start watching what you say. Increase your awareness of your words and make sure you are not falling into this trap.

Have you been guilty of little white lies?

Do you see the danger in where they lead?

What is your plan to change this behavior?

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  • It’s amazing (and unfortunate) that sometimes we do this near-instinctively. I’ve been asked to do this before and refused. I was afraid it might muck up my job, but I think my boss realized it was wrong to ask me to deceive people like that. They just got someone else to do it and secretly they may have resented me for sticking to my principles, but it’s pretty tough to really be mad at someone for not wanting to lie.

    • Good for you, Loren! It is certainly a tough thing to completely eliminate from our day-to-day lives. It is even tougher to be honest in the big items when we are in the habit of the smaller lies.

      I am glad you stuck to your guns! Even if you paid a price in the short run, God honors it!

  • Coach Brown

    This is a great series of practical Christian living in the real world. It is where our fear meets our level of faith, and somethimes we find out that our faith falls short, and fear prevails. We certainly fall prey to what my coworkers or bosses think, rather than what Jesus would think. Yet, Jesus said plainly that lying has no place in our lives. Let our word be approved by God, thus our “yes should be yes, and our no be no.” There should be no having shades of gray in our word with others. Lying is deceit. Would we tolerate it from our pastor or church leaders? Why should the standard we set for them be any different from what we should expect from ourselves, whether in the church fellowship or company work setting?

    Just because the Bible declares that there none that are righteous, it is not declaring we have an excuse to act not right. If we are identified with Christ, then we are to try to live up the standards of Christ. Did He ever abuse His position? DiId He lie when it would have been more convenient and comfortable to do so? Ask Pontius Pilate or the members of the Sanhedrin? we base our entire faith in Christ on the fact He would never lie. If He did lie about anything then how could we base our faith in Him and His promises? And, how would that relate to our own testimony before others as a Christian?

    Working in an industry known for twisting the truth for the sake of profit, I am determined to stand on the fact that the truth sets us free, and I hope it does not mean getting fired! But if that were to happen, then I would rather be free from the daily fear that comes from such a business environment that feels it must lie to succeed. Thank you Chris for showing and living the right example…

    • Thank you Coach! I appreciate the added thoughts!

      Your faith is well placed. Keep up the integrity!

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  • Christians must always stand on the truth, but it is curious there seems to be ethical times when lying for the good is mentioned, i.e. Rahab in Jericho, Joshua 2. She lies to soldiers looking for the Hebrew spies hiding on her roof. I believe motive before God is a part of the equation. Consider every man’s dilemma: “Honey, does this dress make me look fat?” or some other variation… Motive and personal safety of others (or self as in my last example).
    However, when dealing with coworkers or customers, truth first above all else, even when lying would win the deal or give more business…God will reward the right motive, right heart, right response! Amen

    • Good question, Coach. I have wondered that myself.