Maybe the oldest lie ever recorded is that there are no consequences for lying.
Genesis is the first book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament. In Genesis, the Serpent talks to Eve and tells her that first lie. One translation reads like this:
The Serpent says “Really? None of the fruit in the garden? God says you must not eat any of it?”
Eve “Of course we can eat it. “It’s only the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that we cannot eat. God says we mustn’t eat it or even touch it, or we will die.”
The Serpent replies “That’s a lie!” said the serpent. “You won’t die! Eve looked at the fruit on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and saw that it looked fresh and delicious. She thought the fruit would make her wise like the serpent said it would. Eve was convinced! She picked the fruit and ate it, and she gave some to Adam to eat, too.
The Serpent tells that first lie, “You won’t die!”
The First Lie
But, what’s behind that first lie? Adam and Eve didn’t actually experience physical death (at least not immediately) but there were consequences. Those consequences are also listed in Genesis and remain in existence today.
The first lie was really saying that there were no consequences for lying. This is the bigger issue that plagues our corporations and really everyone in the world today.
One of my daughters has started a project where she asks her parents, her husband’s parents, and a few other meaningful people in their lives to share by answering a monthly question. I believe her intent to know more herself but also to pass the learning on to her children so they know more about the history of their family. Her latest question is “What are some important values that your parents imparted to you?”
I didn’t have to think much to realize that the value was “Tell the truth. Don’t lie.”
I don’t remember either parent talking to me about the consequences of not lying but it became obvious to me at an early stage that friends who did lie, had a rough time coming up with new lies to cover the original one. Not lying was certainly a whole lot easier. I was never able to lie to either parent about anything and that habit has continued into my adult life and old age.
Back to Christianity. Jezebel was a real person in the bible but by the end of the Bible, the name Jezebel was more of a concept than a person. The concept? If you’re a liar or don’t believe your actions have consequences, you’re a Jezebel.
It’s not a good thing to be known as a Jezebel.
I feel safe in betting that you’ve never heard of anyone referred to as a Jezebel today. But, through words, behaviors, or both, you’ve certainly heard someone described as not trustworthy. The reason they are referred to as not being trustworthy is that they don’t believe or don’t understand that there are consequences to their actions.
If people view you as not being trustworthy, you will not experience support, unity or encouragement. People just don’t trust you.
Not Trustworthy even when Intentions are Good
I recently worked with someone who had great intentions. He wanted everyone on his team to appreciate him and he would say “yes” to everything. The other person might be simply asking for a resource or seeking some advice, but this person would respond with “I’ll take care of it.” Even when he was questioned about his ability, experience, or time needed to provide the particular item, he would still say “Yes. I’ll take care of it!” Unfortunately, he followed through on so few of those commitments, the team let him go. He was not Trustworthy.
There ARE Consequences
Every word and action has consequences! I think that is why our social media, our national media, and even our politics have gotten so vicious and divided. They don’t believe there are consequences. When you’re on social media and using a pseudonym, you believe you can say anything and there are no consequences. No one knows who you are. While there may not be consequences to you personally or immediately, there are consequences. It creates a divided nation.
Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” He was right. We will fall as a nation if we stay divided against ourselves.
Even our politicians seem to feel that if they lie to us often and consistently, we will start to think it’s the truth. According to a Pew Research poll last year, only 3% of the American public said they can just about always “trust the government in Washington to do what is right.” 3%!? How are we suppose to sustain government and society when only 3% even trust the government (read that, people running the government) to do the right thing almost all of the time.
There are consequences!
Don’t fool yourself. Don’t believe the oldest lie.
Be open and honest. Be transparent. Tell the truth.
The only way to avoid the consequences is by believing there are or will be consequences!