ONLY A LITTLE WHITE LIE
Truth-telling Holy Spirit, breathe Your truth on me today. Bring fresh life to the Word, and through it to me.
Read GENESIS 20
Abraham and Abimelek
20 Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, 2 and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.
3 But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.”
4 Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? 5 Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”
6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her. 7 Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.”
8 Early the next morning Abimelek summoned all his officials, and when he told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid. 9 Then Abimelek called Abraham in and said, “What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should never be done.” 10 And Abimelek asked Abraham, “What was your reason for doing this?”
11 Abraham replied, “I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’ 12 Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife. 13 And when God had me wander from my father’s household, I said to her, ‘This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”’”
14 Then Abimelek brought sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham, and he returned Sarah his wife to him. 15 And Abimelek said, “My land is before you; live wherever you like.”
16 To Sarah he said, “I am giving your brother a thousand shekels[a] of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated.”
17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelek, his wife and his female slaves so they could have children again, 18 for the Lord had kept all the women in Abimelek’s household from conceiving because of Abraham’s wife Sarah.
- Genesis 20:16 That is, about 25 pounds or about 12 kilograms
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Save me, Lord, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues.’1 ‘Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.’2
Have you ever told a white lie to prevent hurting someone’s feelings, or maybe one to preserve yourself? Abraham half-lies because he fears death (11).3 Even though God has given him seven incredible promises,4 he has doubts about his future. Fear and insecurity precipitate his deception. Abraham half-lies because he does not trust God to protect him. His fears also cause him to be judgmental. He misjudges Abimelek, not recognizing him to be a God-fearing man (11).
Sarah is indeed Abraham’s half-sister (12). In His mercy, God reveals the truth to Abimelek about Abraham and Sarah’s relationship (3–7). God wants the best for Abraham and His best is the child of promise. God’s intervention prevents adultery with Sarah, meaning there would be no doubt about Isaac’s lineage, a factor crucial to Israel’s long-term history. Abraham’s actions are wrong, as deception is his intention. Yet when confronted by Abimelek, Abraham confesses (12,13) and order is restored (17).
A half-truth is not the whole truth; if deception is the intention, then it is still a lie. Lies are not merely the words that are spoken; they can be a reflection of the condition of the heart. As with Abraham, lies of self-preservation are spoken out of fear and insecurity: fear that God might want to punish; insecurity, heightened in the apparent need to protect oneself. Is there a situation where fear and insecurity hinder you from telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? As you repent and receive God’s forgiveness, confront that situation by speaking the whole truth – and witness God redeem the situation to your benefit and His glory. God can be trusted with your life.
Read Psalm 139, inviting God to search your heart. Repent, receive forgiveness, and be restored, recalling His promises to you.
God of Truth, lying is such a bother as well as a sin. There is no end to it. I don’t like to lie, but I know I can so easily slip into the habit. Forgive me, Lord, and fill me with truth.
1 Ps 120:2 2 Ps 63:3 3 cf., Gen 12:13 4 Gen 12:1–3
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