A favorite “preacher joke” goes like this. A young seminarian was taking a trip by plane. He was a single man and was excited about the future. As he sat in the waiting area at the gate, he was contemplating his future in ministry as a pastor. “What are the characteristics that I desire my ministry to be known for? What kind of pastor do I want to be?” As he prayed and thought, he said, “Lord, I want to be honest and transparent. Yes, that’s what I want to be known for – honesty and transparency.” Satisfied with that, he eagerly boarded the airplane and settled in his seat.
Shortly he looked up and there was a beautiful young woman walking down the aisle and, fortunately, sat down in the seat beside him. He thought, “Wow, how lucky can you be!?” Then she retrieved a Bible from her purse and began reading. Now this was Heaven come down for him and he thought, “This is a divine appointment! God put this lady in my path today!” So he began talking to her.
As they began talking, he asked her what type of man she was attracted to. She said, “Well, I really have a heart for the Native American. Their strong history and solid family values are very important. But, I also love the Jewish people and Jewish men are attractive to me because of their history, their brilliance and determination. But, there again, I can never forget the down home southern boys. They are solid citizens and hard workers.” Then she turned to him and asked, “So, what’s your name?” He quickly replied, “Geronimo Goldstein, but my friends just call me Bubba.”
Funny! But isn’t that just like us!? We want to be people of integrity and, most of the time we are. But what about when it comes to getting an advantage on a situation? Well…Maybe we can fudge just a little bit and play a trump card that will make us look better or give us the leg up somehow. Mamma always said to tell the truth, didn’t she? Well, yes, but…Nope, sorry – no buts in the truth business.
Ol’ Geronimo Goldstein would’ve soon been found out and suffered a consequence or two. The lady would have found him to be a want-to-be pastor fraud. She would have options. Just turn around and walk away and forget it; slap the fire out of him and walk away and forget it; slap the fire out of him and expose his fraud to his colleagues; walk away and never darken the door of a church again (all those people are hypocrites, you know) or maybe laugh at the stupid guy and go on with life. Then go back and slap the fire out of him.
There could be many more options for her, but the point is, in this simple joke, there are real life things to think about. Ministries have been demolished, relationships torn apart, business partnerships dissolved and churches split over trivial things that stem from one or a few people stretching a situation to suit their own self-centeredness.
Today lying has reached epidemic proportions in America. According to a University of Massachusetts study from 2002, 60% of adults lie at least once during a ten minute conversation. Actually, the people in that study told an average of three lies in a ten minute conversation. These same people were certain they were not liars and were amazed at how they had fibbed when they saw the video of themselves.
So, not only are the majority of people big fat liars, they are habitual mis-informationists, professionally inventing the truth to suit themselves. And they do this so comfortably now that they are in denial when faced with the fact of their fibbing. By the way, it is being said that 90% of children learn the “value” of lying by age four.
Wow, what a mixed up world we live in. Can I get an “Amen!” out there? We are turning into a nation that would rather tell an untruth than speak the truth. My Mom has always had a saying, “He would lie when the truth would fit better.” Sadly, that is becoming more prevalent and it is certainly a detriment to our civilized society.
It wasn’t too many years previous that a man’s word in this country was as good as gold. Agreements were made on a handshake because a person’s honor and integrity were more important than personal gain. That seems strange today and most of our population would ridicule the idea. But for those who are honest and can envision the future being controlled by a generation that learned to lie at the age of four, it is a concept to long for.
Again I bring us back to the ancient Book that has always stated Truth without apology. “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment… Lying lips are an abomination to The Lord, but those who act faithfully are His delight.” Proverbs 12:19, 22
Now, that will slap the fire out of you!