Sunday, June 02, 2013

[Matt's Messages] "A Lying Tongue" Proverbs 26:28

“A Lying Tongue”
The Tongue of the Wise - Spring 2013
June 2, 2013 :: Proverbs 26:28

We’re coming to the end of our current series on the “The Tongue of the Wise.” Just two or maybe three messages left in this Spring series based upon Proverbs 12:18 (our last month’s Hide the Word verse) which says, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

“Reckless words pierce like a sword.” We’ve talked about grumbling and complaining. We’ve talked about cussing and cursing and coarse joking.  We’ve talked about how powerful for evil our words can be. The tongue is a fire.

“But the tongue of the wise brings healing.”  We’ve also learned that the tongue can be a mighty power for good and for godliness and for God’s glory. When we speak sweet words, pleasant words, good words, we can bring God much glory and other people much good.

How are you doing at developing your own wise tongue?

Have these messages been helpful to you in your own discipleship?

Have any of us made any changes in the way we speak, in how we use our words because we’ve encountered God’s Word?

Today’s reckless words that pierce like a sword are lies.

Today, I want to talk about “A Lying Tongue.”

That is, someone who lies with their words.

A deceitful tongue. A lying tongue.

Our key verse for today, Proverbs 26:28 says, “A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”

The King James says, “A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.”

The English Standard Version says, “A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”

I don’t have to prove to you that lying is bad. Do I?

I think we all know that. We all at least acknowledge that we don’t like to be lied to, right?

And most of us most of the time don’t think that lying is good.

Lying is bad, right?

The 9th commandment says, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”

Lying in general is against God’s holy standard.

In fact, God hates it.  Proverbs 6:17 says that “there are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: (1) haughty eyes, (2) a lying tongue.”

Number two on this list.  The LORD hates a lying tongue.

Lying is not just annoying to Him, it is detestable.

The list goes on. “(3) hands that shed innocent blood, (4) a hear that devises wicked schemes, (5) feet that are quick to rush into evil, and (6) a false witness that pours out lies.”  In list of 7 things the LORD hates, lying makes it twice!

The 7th, by the way, is “a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.”

In list of 7 things the LORD hates, lying makes it on there twice!

And our proverb for today points out the destructive effects of a lying tongue. Proverbs 26:28 again.

“A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”

There are a lot of ways to lie.

Human beings have been very creative over the years in devising new ways to deceive.

For example: exaggeration.  I remember the first week of this series, I asked you to yell out sins of the tongue, and one of you shot back, “Exaggeration.”

Overstating something to impress others. Boasting. Stretching that story so much that it’s not longer a true story, in fact it’s a tall tale, but here you are pretending that it’s God’s own truth.

Fraud is another expression of a lying tongue.  Trying to deceive someone so that you can take advantage of them in some way.

Lying about how good a product is, for example, or what it can do when it’s not so good and can’t do what you say.

My son Peter is trying to sell his old bike.  He was 5 years old when he got it and he’s 10 years old next month.  What if Peter told prospective buyers that it’s only 2 years old and never had a flat tire? That would be lying. That would be fraud.

And #1. “A LYING TONGUE HATES THOSE IT HURTS.” 

Often the truth is hidden in the so called “fine print” but the intention of the big print is to deceive.

Another kind of lying tongue is a making a light promise. That is, making a promise you never intend to keep.

Parents are notorious for this.

We should be careful to not promise things we do not plan to deliver upon.

“Sure, I’ll take you there. Yeah, I’ll buy you that.”  But we actually are hoping that they forget.

That’s a lying tongue.

God hates it, and it hates those it hurts.

Look up at verses 18 and 19 of this chapter. See those?

“Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘I was only joking!’”

It’s like a archer with flaming broadheads firing into a crowd of people–it’s that destructive to lie to your neighbor, probably telling them something to your advantage, and then when caught trying to get out of it, “I was only joking!”

“Can’t you take a joke?”

“I didn’t really mean that.” “We didn’t shake on that.”  “We didn’t put that in writing.”

“I was just talking. You seriously didn’t believe me, did you?”

“A lying tongue hates those it hurts...”

Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it. Sometimes, it doesn’t seem like anyone would be hurt by a little lie, does it?

For example, let’s say you have four kids. A girl and three boys. Just for example.

And you go out to eat at Eat-N-Park, which we all know should be named “Park-N-Eat” because that’s the order you ought to do it in.

And the kids’ menu is available for kids 10 and under.

And let’s just say that your kids are aged 12, 11, 9, and 8 just for an example.

You don’t outright lie and say, “My kids are all under 10.”

But what you if you just say, “I’d like 4 kids’ meals, please.” implying that your kids are all of the applicable ages.

What does that hurt anyone?

It’s a lie though, isn’t it?

And the Bible says, “A lying tongue hates those it hurts...”

It’s stealing. The poorly named Eat-N-Park is being cheated out of your dollars.

“A lying tongue hates those it hurts...”

If you loved the people who run and own Eat-N-Park the way that God wants you to, then you wouldn’t try to cheat them out of their money.

I think that a lot of people rationalize their “rational” little lies.

They think that if they can’t identify who it would hurt, then a little lie would be no big deal.

But, “A lying tongue hates those it hurts...”

And it breaks down trust.  And it goes against the very character of God.

Who did Jesus say was the Father of Lies?

Satan. The devil.

Jesus said “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

And when we lie, we are speaking Satan’s native language. It’s music to his ears.

And it’s detestable to God’s ears.

Lies are what Satan used to tempt Adam and Eve.

And bearing false witness is what Satan used in the courtroom to condemn Jesus to death.

A lying tongue killed Jesus.

“A lying tongue hates those it hurts...”

Notice that. A lying tongue hates.

The tongue here stands for the whole person of a liar. A lie is not based in love.

There may be exceptional cases, for example in war-time, when a lie is necessary to save someone or protect someone lovingly.  The Hebrew mid-wives and Rahab at Jericho might be exceptions to the general rule.

But they prove the rule in being so exceptional.

Most of the time we are not in a situation remotely like theirs and the general rule for us is always to tell the truth.

Because a lying tongue is a hating tongue.

And it hurts.

“A lying tongue hates those it hurts...”

There are always victims in our lies.

And God will always bring them justice.

Proverbs 19:5 says, “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who pours out lies will not go free.”

There are always consequences.

Heather Joy and I were talking about this message this week, and she told me that she used to lie terribly to win in arguments.

In fact, what she did was lie about her dad’s occupation to bring him in as authority on whatever point she was arguing about at the time.

In reality, her Dad worked for a technical school teaching video and working with audio and video equipment.

But according to Heather, he was an accountant if she was making some point about money or a policeman if she was making a point about the law.

She said yesterday that her worst was one time she was arguing with a friend named Neal about what color the sun was. And Heather said that it was white.

And she should know because her dad was an astronaut!

(By the way, she gave me permission to share that story.)

It’s funny.  But I’m sure that after Neal had heard about Heather’s dad being in about 10 different professions, he didn’t trust her anymore. And if he did, he was foolish.

“A lying tongue hates those it hurts...”

Now, follow this. There is more to this proverb and the B line builds on the A line.

Proverbs 26:28, “A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”

By Hebrew parallelism, flattery is identified here as a form of lying.

#2. A FLATTERING MOUTH WORKS RUIN.

Flattery is sinful.

Flattery is telling someone else how great they are when they are not great.

Or, by extension, how great their things are when they are not great.

How great their kids are when they are not great.

How great their clothes are when they are not great.

Kent Hughes has famously said that gossip is saying behind someone’s back what you would never say to their face, but that flattery is saying to someone’s face what you would never say behind their backs.

Flattery is a lying tongue.

And we need to be wary of those who words are smooth.

The Hebrew word for “flattering” here is “chalak” and it literally means “smooth.”

Look up at verse 23.

“Like a coating of glaze over earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart. [A glaze, I think, to hide the imperfections. The lips are moving in lies to hide an evil heart. V.24]

A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbors deceit.

[Watch out!]  Though his speech is charming, do not believe him, for seven abominations fill his heart. His malice may be concealed by deception, but his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.”

Flattery is smooth talk, meant to get something out of us.

We call it “buttering someone up.”  Flattery is fattening.

Like a pig for the slaughter.

Sometimes, our flattery is just because we want people to like us.

But we’re lying to them to get it!

And sometimes we lie because we want something else.  Peace, money, sex, popularity.

Many politicians (on both sides of the aisle) use flattery to try to win votes.

Flattery is telling someone what you think they want to hear not what they need to hear.

Yesterday, I had a one-on-one counseling session with a good friend. He had a hard decision to make and wanted help in making it.

And I told him some hard things about himself that he needed to hear to make his decision.

And I ended by saying I was sorry that I had to tell him that because it might have hurt, and I didn’t want to hurt him.

And he said, “I didn’t come here to have you tell me what I wanted to hear but what I needed to hear. I’d have gone somewhere else if I wanted that.”

And that was about the best compliment he could have given me.  I was very honored.

Because “a flattering mouth works ruin.”

That part of the verse parallels “hates those it hurts.”

Flattery hurts people, too.

We might not think so. We might think that flattery is kind of love.

No, affirmation is a kind of love. Commending the commendable is love. Affirming the affirmable is love. Praising true greatness is love.

But flattery is not love. It hates those it hurts. It “works ruin.”

Let me give you an example.

Parents who lie to their children and tell them that they are wonderful when they are surely not being wonderful are flattering their children and setting them up for a fall.

Now, I’m all for encouraging our children.  We need to be on the lookout for every sign of something good and praise it!

Just like we talked about on Mother’s Day. Praising Mom is right when she has done something praiseworthy.

But don’t inflate their egos. Don’t tell them they are great when they are not being great.

That’s how we get a generation of young people who have high “self-esteem” but can’t make their way in the world.  And don’t try hard. And think that everything should be handed to them because they deserve it and they are so wonderful.

Don’t get me wrong. Our children, all of them, are precious gifts of God who should be encouraged at every opportunity.

But not lied to!

Because “a flattering mouth works ruin.”

Now, that ruin could also point to consequences coming upon the one who flatters.

In the near context, verse 27 points out that perpetrators will often get what they have planned for others coming back to them.  V.27

“If a man digs a pit, he will fall into it; if a man rolls a stone, it will roll back on him. A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”

If you tell your kid that he is the greatest thing and doesn’t need to change or improve or become something new in Christ, then you will get what you have coming for you when they don’t change or improve or become something new in Christ.

Because “a flattering mouth works ruin.”

And that’s not just in parenting.

That’s in business.
That’s in the marketplace.
That’s in marriage.
That’s in dating.
That’s in extended family relationships.
That’s in neighborhoods.

That’s wherever we might be tempted to trim the truth and distort and deceive for our own purposes.

“A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”

So, what do we do about it?

We know by now that’s not enough to just say, “Stop lying! Stop flattering!” And that be the end of the story.

What steps can we take to say “no” to these reckless words?

Let me suggest three practical steps:

- REPENT OF YOUR HATE.

This is in your heart. Turn away from your hate (either active or passive, either aggressive hate or passive hate) of the people you are talking to.

It’s something that you do inside of yourself. Turn. And...

- LOVE THE TRUTH.

Begin to love what is true just for being true.

The biggest reason why God hates a lying tongue is because He is Truth.

Jesus said, “I am the way, THE TRUTH, and the life.”

Loving Jesus means loving the truth, and those who truly love the truth will love Jesus. Then...

- SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE.

Both of those words are important.

We need to speak the truth. We’ve seen that today.

But we aren’t called to speak the truth in brutality. (Got that word from Joe Stowell’s book The Weight of Your Words.)

We aren’t called to try to hurt people with the truth.

In every way we can, we are called to speak the truth in love.

And if we do that, it won’t be hate and it won’t be hurt and it won’t be ruin.

It’ll be blessing.

Now, that might hurt us some.

And we need to be ready to speak the truth in love even if it hurts.

Psalm 15 paints a precious picture of a person who speaks the truth in love. It says

“LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? [What does a godly person look like?]

He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the LORD, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.”

Speak the truth in love and keep your promises even if it hurts.

Because your life will be unshakable where it counts.

Let’s pray together.

Worship at the Lord’s Table

There was a man who perfectly fulfilled Psalm 15.

He always spoke the truth in love.

And they killed Him for it.

And His death brought us new life.

1 Peter chapter 2, verses 22-25 says:

“[Jesus] ‘committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’  When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

This bread stands for the body of the man who did not have a lying tongue and was not a flatterer. No deceit was found in his mouth.

This cup is the cup standing for his precious blood. Perfect, blameless, righteous. Everything we have not been with our little and large lies.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might have new tongues, so that we might die to lies and live for truth. By his wounds we have been healed.

As we eat and drink this meal, may we celebrate what Jesus did for us.

And may we pray that Jesus would change our hearts and gives us wise tongues, tongues of healing, tongues of truth.


***

Messages in this Series:

1. The Fearsome Tongue
2. Sweet Words
3. Grumbling (Part One)
4. Grumbling (Part Two)
5. Praising Mom
6. Bad Words
7. Good Words
8. A Lying Tongue