In Genesis 12, Abraham lied about Sarah, telling the Egyptians that she was his sister. The king of Egypt, the Pharaoh, took Sarah into his harem. God sent a terrible plague on Pharaoh’s entire household.

In Genesis 20, Abraham lied about Sarah, telling the Gerarites that she was his sister. The king of Gerar, Abimelech, took Sarah as one of his wives. God came to Abimelech in a dream and warned him that he would die if he kept Sarah as his wife because she was already the wife of Abraham.

What strikes me is that our sins cause those around us to sin unknowingly. In both situations above, the kings would not have taken Sarah from Abraham and into their homes if they had known that she was Abraham’s wife. But Abraham allowed his fear to be the justification for lying instead of trusting God to come through for him. So he chose to sin instead of trust God. And in choosing to sin, he caused those around him to sin.

First, let’s get something straight. Sin is serious stuff and lying is a serious sin. Deuteronomy 25:16 says that God detests anyone who deals dishonestly. Proverbs 6 tells us that there are seven things that are detestable to the Lord and one of them is a lying tongue. Detests is a pretty strong word. The King James Version uses the words “are an abomination.” I am far from sinless, but I don’t want to knowingly do something that is detestable to the Lord, that is an abomination to Him. Nor do I want to be the cause of someone else’s detestable actions. Abraham lied. It caused those around him to commit other sins.

Is this relevant today? You bet! When we lie (even the white lies), we put those around us in a difficult position. If they don’t know we lied to them, they are likely to repeat our lie unknowingly or act sinfully because of the lie we told. For example, if I illegally download software then give it to someone telling them it is a legal version, when they use the software, they will be violating the law. When I illegally download music, all those around me are listening to stolen music.

Now suppose the person knew I was lying. That puts them in the position of telling others the truth, revealing my sin, or continuing my lie by lying themselves. That’s not an easy place to be. Let’s say I want to go to the movies with my husband this afternoon but I had previously told my mom that I’d visit her. Maybe I’ve considered this and think it’s more important today to take the afternoon and spend it with my husband. But I don’t want to disappoint my mom or hurt her feelings, so instead of telling her the truth, I tell her that I can’t come visit today because I have too much work to do. Having too much work to do seems like a better reason to skip visiting her than going to a movie instead. But it’s a lie. If mom talks to Phil and begins saying how glad she is that we’re busy at work, he is immediately put in the position of telling her that her daughter lied to her or lying himself to protect me.

Yes, these are small examples, but they are every day examples. You might say “what’s the big deal.” I say that the Lord detests a lying tongue. I don’t want to own or be what the Lord detests. AND, it’s not just about me. When I sin, I cause those around me to sin.

How much better to cause those around me to rejoice in the Lord because I am rejoicing in the Lord? How much better to cause those around me to serve the Lord because they see my joy in serving the Lord? How much better to cause those around me to live with integrity because they see that God honors those who live with integrity?

Our actions have consequences – whether for good or evil, what we do impacts what those around us do. Will you be challenged, as I am, to live righteously before God and others?

One Response to “Living in Community – Actions Have Consequences”
  1. […] Societal: Even a cursory read through the Old Testament teaches that God treats us as “a people” and “His people.” Yes, He deals with us individually, but He also treats us as a group and what one person does impacts the entire group. My sin impacts those around me. I blogged about this here  using the simple sin of lying as an example. […]

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