Investigating the Bible: The rewards of honesty and price of lying


The country preacher said, “Brothers and sisters, my sermon this morning will be about liars. Now, has everyone read the 30th chapter of Matthew?” Half the hands in the congregation went up. “You’re just the people I want to talk to,” said the preacher. “There is no such chapter.”

The Bible gives examples of consequences. Honesty has its rewards; lies bring pain. In the early church, one time dishonesty was deadly.

Believers in Jerusalem were excited. When the Holy Spirit filled them, they had miraculously glorified God in languages from around the world. Peter and John saw a man crippled from birth begging for money at the temple gate. Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” (Acts 3:6, New International Version, used throughout.) The man jumped up and followed them into the temple, walking, leaping, and praising God! Barnabas, sold his field and brought all the money, putting it at the feet of the apostles to be shared for the common good of the Jerusalem believers.

Then, church members “…Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.” (Acts 5:1-2). His silence was a lie of omission. Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? ...You have not lied to men, but to God. When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died.” (Acts 5:3-5). “About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, ‘Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?’ ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘That is the price’. Peter said to her, ‘How could you test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.’” (Acts 5:7-9). She instantly fell down, dead. “Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.” (Acts 5:11).

Some lies are obvious. A Brazilian official was suspected of stealing money from the government. The investigator asked, “How do you explain the money found in your bank account?” The man said, “It’s my money.” The investigator pressed: “But can you please explain to us how you made this kind of money?” “Easy,” he replied. “I won it all in lottery tickets. I won 125 times in the last two years.”

And there are lies of omission. During the last football season playoffs, the Houston Texans won their wild-card game. In NBC’s postgame interview, rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, said, “First of all, I just want to give all glory and praise to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Then , “…it’s been amazing being in this city for as short as I’ve been...”. Shortly after, when NBC posted the interview on “X”, the quarterback’s first words of thanking Jesus were omitted, no explanation later given. The social media response was swift. One man wrote, “It seems like being religious and praying to a god is no longer allowed.” C.J. Stroud reacted graciously, saying, “I wish it wasn’t that, but you know, I pray for people and I think God has called us to love one another through thick and thin, mistakes or success.”

The apostle Paul reminded the church that words and actions matter. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8).

David Carlson Pastor (yes, that is his last name, not his profession) is a Polk County resident and graduate of Bethel Theological Seminary in Minnesota (M.Div., M.Th.)


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