SUPPOSE that a girl tells her mother: “Yes, I will come home right after school.” But then she stays and plays with her friends and later tells her mother: “My teacher made me stay after school.” Would it be all right to say something like that?—
Or perhaps a boy tells his father: “No, I didn’t kick the ball in the house.” But what if he really did? Would it be wrong to say that he didn’t?—
The Great Teacher showed us the right thing to do. He said: ‘Just let your word Yes mean Yes, and your No, No; for anything else is from the wicked one.’ (Matthew 5:37) What did Jesus mean by that?— He meant that we should do what we say.
There is a story in the Bible that shows how important it is to tell the truth. It is about two people who said that they were disciples of Jesus. Let’s see what happened.
Less than two months after Jesus dies, many people from faraway places come to Jerusalem for an important festival of the Jews called Pentecost. The apostle Peter gives a wonderful talk in which he tells the people about Jesus, whom Jehovah raised from the dead. This is the first time many of those who have come to Jerusalem learn about Jesus. Now they want to know more. So, what do they do?
They stay longer than they expected. But after a while, some of them run out of money, and they need help so that they can buy food. The disciples in Jerusalem want to help the visitors out. So, many of them sell things that they own and bring the money to Jesus’ apostles. Then the apostles give the money to the ones who need it.
Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, who are members of the Christian congregation in Jerusalem, sell a field they own. No one tells them to sell it. They decide that for themselves. But what they do is not because they love the new disciples of Jesus. Actually, Ananias and Sapphira want to make people think that they are better than they really are. So they decide to say that they are giving all the money to help others. They are really going to give only a part of it but say that they are giving it all. What do you think of that?—
Well, Ananias comes to see the apostles. He gives the money to them. God, of course, knows that he is not giving it all. So God lets the apostle Peter know that Ananias is not being truthful about the matter.
Then Peter says: ‘Ananias, why have you let Satan cause you to do this? The field was yours. You didn’t have to sell it. And even after you sold the field, it was up to you to decide what you would do with the money. But why are you pretending to give all the money when you are giving only part of it? By this you are lying, not just to us, but to God.’
It is that serious. Ananias is lying! He isn’t doing what he says he is doing. He is only pretending to do it. The Bible tells us what happens next. It says: ‘On hearing Peter’s words, Ananias falls down and dies.’ God strikes Ananias dead! Afterward, his body is carried outside and buried.
About three hours later, Sapphira comes in. She does not know what happened to her husband. So Peter asks her: ‘Did you two sell the field for the amount of money that you gave us?’
Sapphira answers: ‘Yes, we sold the field for just that amount.’ But that is a lie! They kept for themselves some of the money from the sale of the field. So God strikes Sapphira dead too.
What should we learn from what happened to Ananias and Sapphira?— It teaches us that God does not like liars. He always wants us to tell the truth. But many people say that it is all right to tell lies. Do you think that those people are correct?— Did you know that all the sickness, pain, and death on the earth came about because of a lie?—
Remember, the Devil lied to the first woman, Eve. He told her that she would not die if she disobeyed God and ate the fruit that God had said she should not eat. Eve believed the Devil and ate the fruit. She got Adam to eat it too. Now they were sinners, and all their children would be born sinners. And because they were sinners, all of Adam’s children suffered and died. How did all the trouble start?— It started with a lie.
No wonder Jesus said that the Devil “is a liar and the father of the lie”! He was the first one who told a lie. When anyone tells a lie, he is doing what the Devil did first. We should think about this if we ever feel tempted to tell a lie.
When is it that you may feel tempted to lie?— Isn’t it when you have done something wrong?— Even though you do not mean to, you may break something. If you’re asked about it, should you say that your brother or sister did it? Or should you pretend that you don’t know how it happened?—
What if you were supposed to do your homework but you did only part of it? Should you say that you did it all, even if you did not?— We should remember Ananias and Sapphira. They did not tell the whole truth. And God showed how bad that was by striking them dead.
So no matter what we may do, it will always make matters worse if we lie about it, and we shouldn’t even tell only half of the truth. The Bible says: “Speak truth.” It also says: “Do not be lying to one another.” Jehovah always speaks the truth, and he expects us to do the same.