We haven’t had a truth-telling conversation in awhile, but our recent political events have reminded me of these perplexing situations.
We’ve had occasions when we were near certain that a child was lying to us. Something is missing or broken. Nobody ‘fesses up. Everyone claims ignorance.
Now what should we do? Discipline all three until someone confesses? Take away privileges or ground them until I learn the truth? Pile on Bible verses about Achan, and Ananias and Sapphira, and God’s Omniscience, until they crack? Go with our gut and tell them we know they are lying?
None of these choices feel right. Some feel bullying and manipulative, an abuse of authority and a usurpation of the work of the Holy Spirit. It is he who convicts of sin, not us. As well, unjustly accusing someone of lying (in error) often leads to bitterness, and we’ve discovered our children telling the truth enough to know we are not infallible experts at determining whether someone is lying. I’d rather leave the suspected lying child in God’s hands.
Sometimes one of our children has come to us, believing that a sibling is lying to them. It feels familiar. Did you ask him what happened? Yes, but he said he didn’t know what happened.
Now what? Our children don’t have authority over their peers. Can I care about justice when I know I’m being lied to but have no authority or reasonable way to force someone to tell me the truth? It’s hard to walk away and to leave it in God’s hands.
Here’s what we’ve grown to do as parents, and how we’ve encouraged our children:
- First, we ask for the truth, even if we suspect a person will not tell it.
- If evidence is available, we should look for it to confirm the truth. If I ask how late my child stayed up talking with her cousin, and she gives me an implausible time, it’s a simple matter for me to quietly check and verify if she is telling the truth.
- Sometimes we look for evidence but don’t find it, or the person has a reason for the behavior that is plausible. Maybe we suspect the motives are wrong, but have no way to prove it. What should we do, then?
- We pray, and ask God to reveal the truth. I’ve taken great comfort in Daniel 2:22, in remembering that God sees all of the hidden things. He is a revealer of secrets. “It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him.”
- Psalm 139 discusses God’s omniscience, even into our thoughts and motives. Isaiah 40 is well worth hiding in our hearts as well.
- Finally, after we pray, then we must trust the righteous judge. God doesn’t always reveal the secrets we want, but he will always reveal them when the time is right.
Sometimes that means we show mercy to our children, even when we suspect they are lying to us. Kids, I don’t know who broke the lamp, but God does. Truth is precious. I am grieved that someone is lying. Now let’s get back to work.
We can pray with them. Heavenly Father, Please give me wisdom to act wisely in this situation. We know that you see in the darkness, and that you are a revealer of secrets. We pray that you will help my children love the truth, and give them the courage to speak up, even if they are afraid. Thank you for helping us.
Sometimes we have a private conversation with a child, explaining that their sibling has come to us, concerned that they are being lied to. I’ve noticed that it seems you sometimes have a hard time telling the truth. Is that so? The other day, it really bothered you when your sister/ brother accused you of lying. Would you like some help figuring out how to rebuild trust with your sister/ brother?
Back to politics.
It bothers us greatly when we know we are being lied to, and it is wise to seek out accurate information. We may spend a lot of time trying to discover the truth, but at some point, we realize we are not making progress in finding answers. Some answers are not given to us on earth, and in these times it is no longer a wise use of time to pursue them. We can become angry and distracted from our mission. Instead, we must rest in God’s ability to reveal truth when the time is right, and then move on. We can say, “I think someone is lying, but if we find no good evidence, we must leave it in God’s hands and go about our business. There is much to do.” We live in peace, knowing that God sees in the dark, and we just need to focus on the things he has revealed and act accordingly.
The secret things belong to the Lord our God,
but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever,
that we may do all the words of this law.