Don’t scheme against each other. Stop your love of telling lies that you swear are the truth. I hate all these things, says the Lord. ~ Zechariah 8:17 (NLT)
Who doesn’t love a good story? I know I certainly do. If you have the ability to tell tales of action, romance, victory, defeat, trial, and triumph with gusto, you’ve got my attention. In fact, this is the very ingredient that Hollywood relies upon when they produce movies and television shows. After all, who is going to watch something that is dry, boring, and doesn’t interest the general population? So, they create complex characters and put them in compromising situations. They develop plot lines that keep the audience guessing as to how it’s all going to end. They cast actors that are handsome or beautiful and are experts in portraying someone who is bigger than life, yet still believable. Good storytelling is big business.
Hollywood has something in common with many of us too. All of their stories, even the ones that are “based on a true story,” contain a ton of fiction – information and characters that are completely made up. And, much like Hollywood, this fictional information has a way of worming its way into reality. Over time, the morals, passion, values, and information from fiction begins to become truth in society.
Our fiction has the same effect. When we mix fiction into our stories about one another, it eventually blurs the lines between what is true and what is made up. Even when we embellish things, making them bigger or smaller than they actually were, we run the risk of causing harm to someone else. Why? Well, first, trust erodes when the truth eventually comes out. Who wants to be friends with a liar? Second, and perhaps more importantly, lies damage how others are perceived. In other words, if I constantly spread lies about someone, and hold those lies up as fact, and my lies sound credible, I can cause someone’s reputation to take a hit in the eyes of others. These lies also inflict harm on the greater community as trust is broken.
This is why the Prophet Zechariah declares that the Lord “hate[s] all these things.” Lying, especially against one another, destroys the very thing that God is trying to build up, His church. We are called to come together, not tear each other apart.
The solution is simple: stick to the truth in everything. Love one another. Lift each other up. Don’t tear people down.