When True Words Become Lies

Posted on February 26, 2014 · Posted in Lying, Parenting, Wisdom

If you want your child not to lie, you must first teach them what truthfulness is. This is where biblical wisdom is needed.  Wisdom teaches your child that telling the truth is more than just saying things that are true. Being truthful means speaking accurately, without exaggerating or being misleading. Your child needs wisdom to be truthful. Truth telling is a conscious effort to supply accurate information that honors God and not self. As you know, it is possible to say things that are accurate and still hide the truth. This is the distinction that you must teach to your children. 

No child is born wise. Wisdom is a skill that must be acquired. If you are waiting for your child to grow up and begin to make wise choices, you will be waiting a long time. Truthfulness means knowing and understanding the truth, obeying the truth, and making good decisions based on the truth. In order to be truthful, wisdom is required. This is why Proverbs is adamant that we must get wisdom.

Your child needs wisdom to be truthful. God’s wisdom is much more than information transfer. Providing God’s wisdom to your children begins with the gospel. Apart from embracing the gospel, no one will even desire to be biblically wise. Wisdom is living a life that is oriented toward honoring God in each decision that is made. To be truthful we must first be wise.

Each one of us is born with the natural inclination to manipulate what is true for our own advantage. Here are two examples:

“Mommy, come quickly, the dog is outside.”  

These words are true, but they are selective words. They leave out the fact that the dog got out because because the screen door was left open when it shouldn’t have been. Here true words are used in an attempt avoid getting in trouble for leaving the door open.

“I am sorry I was angry and yelled at you. Mommy is just really tired today.” 

Everything said in this example is true. Mom was angry. She was sorry for yelling. She is really tired. But this collection of true words is not the reason Mom became angry and yelled. Tiredness is not the problem. The problem is using circumstances as a reason for disobeying God and becoming angry.

Wisdom that flows from a heart won over by the gospel helps to guard your heart. Your heart’s natural inclination is to deceive, that is to use true words to make ourselves look good. If you want your children to wise and truthful, lead them by your example as well as your instruction.


The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
    but fools[ despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 1:7

The Lord detests lying lips,
    but he delights in those who tell the truth.

Proverbs 12:22

Jay Younts
Jay Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is the author of Everyday Talk and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay and his wife, Ruth, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and Ruth have five adult children.