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Bible verses about Exaggeration
(From Forerunner Commentary)

John 1:46-47  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Without deceit means "simple, without subtlety, candid and sincere." Was this a compliment or a mild sarcasm? Jesus may actually have been pleasantly surprised.

All need to pay heed to His comment, in which He is teaching that "a real Israelite is one in whom is no falsehood." Nathanael represented the way a true Israelite should be, a person without deceit, candid and sincere. Jesus seems to be referring to the post-conversion character of the once-deceitful Jacob, the ancestor of the Israelites, whose name God changed to "Israel." Before Jacob's conversion, Isaac had said to Esau, "Your brother came with deceit and has taken away your blessing" (Genesis 27:35), yet afterward, Jacob dealt honestly and fairly with others.

However, lying is such an integral part of the fabric of our lives that we have coined such expressions of mild disbelief as "Is that so?" and "Do you really mean it?" We expect advertisers to exaggerate the quality of their products. We expect politicians to be crooked, to lie, to be evasive, to use their positions to become wealthy, and to make under-the-table deals with contractors or even crime figures. We expect policemen to be "on the take" and businessmen to give little in return for as high a cost as the traffic will bear.

Indeed, the protestors of the 1960s justified the turmoil on the streets because of their disillusionment with the obvious hypocrisies of leaders becoming wealthy on a prolonged, senseless war. During that same general period, Presidents Eisenhower and Johnson were caught openly lying at news conferences. A web of intrigue and lies brought about President Nixon's resignation. Even General Motors misrepresented Oldsmobile cars with Chevy engines!

People in government commonly lie "in the national interest," as the saying goes. Many have testified that Bill and Hillary Clinton spent eight years continuously lying about a wide variety of personal failings, moneymaking deals, and political intrigues they were involved in. The media took the Bush administration to task on its obfuscations regarding the Iraq War.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill served his nation most critically in wartime, during which artful lying, called disinformation, is a common tactic. He once said, "In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies." Do we as a people think that no one is listening?

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment


 

James 3:14-16  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

I like to tell stories, and my family has told me more than once that I sometimes exaggerate things. I always justified it as good humor and in fun. I have come to learn, however, the exaggerations, boasts, or little white lies that "spice up" stories or humor can often hurt and damage others. Sometimes someone hearing the story remembers the situation, and it was not as funny or, from his perspective, happened some other way.

Boasting is usually successful only when another is put down, and though everyone may laugh, the victim may be recoiling from what feels like jabs and insults. Sarcasm and teasing often produce the same results. James refers to boasting and lying as assaults against the truth. One may not realize how true this is until he feels the sting of sarcasm directed toward him. I love to tease and be teased, but I am realizing increasingly that people can become carried away in their words, violate the truth, and do severe damage.

An old saying runs, "Everyone loves a clown but no one wants to be his best friend." Laughter helps people to relax and bond more closely together in shared experiences, but it is good to learn to look around to see if someone is no longer laughing. Many years ago, a dinner party with several good friends also included a minister and his wife who had just been transferred to our city. It was our first occasion to dine with them, and it was a very pleasant evening. Most of us, knowing each other well, had a long evening teasing, joking, laughing, and putting each other down. We never noticed anything amiss with the new guests.

The next week at church, however, we heard a sermon about the damages of put-down humor and how it has absolutely no place in a Christian's lifestyle. The new minister talked about how even the most subtle humor can tear relationships down and cause doubts about another's affection or respect. Such humor includes referring to one's wife as "the old ball and chain" or "the biscuit-burner." Such names and teasing—as "good fun" as they may seem—diminish our friends and family, do not express the kind affection we really feel for them, are not true, and thus are lies. A Christian should never lie, not even in fun. All of us were shame-faced and sorry we had left such a negative impression, and we apologized to him, his wife and to each other.

Test: Are we teasing and boasting to another's pleasure or his discomfort? Is it true and factual? If it is not, it is a lie, and no matter how funny it is, it is sin. Sarcasm belongs in the same category: If it is not true, it is a lie. Even if it is true, how are we expressing it? Does sarcasm express love, gentleness, peace, and mercy? Can we tease one another righteously? I would like to think so, but I am still working on learning how. Without God's Spirit guiding our words, our tongues remain subtle, merciless, and destructive weapons.

James concludes by telling us directly that these forms of speaking are not godly wisdom, but "earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there" (verses 15-16). The fallout from communication based on our human, selfish motivations is evident about us. The state of the world and the way it functions are often actions and reactions of crushing blows of words. Governments, businesses, sports teams, even schools, churches, and neighborhoods communicate with each other in wars of words. Our world—this "Information Age"—is practically devoid of godly, righteous speech, relying on the sensual, material, selfish pursuits that drive Satan himself. How much does it affect us and our communications with one another?

Staff
Are You Sharp-Tongued? (Part Two)


 

 




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