Modern society is really into white lies. We even give them a softening name. But what does the Bible teach on the subject of lying, and are “white” lies really a problem if we have pure motives? The issue might come down to taking God at His Word.
Abraham goes down in history as our role model for believing God. After all, this man left everything he’d known to follow God to the unknown. Abram (before God changed his name) was rooted in God. I don’t know about you, but I tend to be rooted in my family culture, ownership, creature-comforts, but Abraham had his roots in the right place most of the time!
Abram had moments when even he didn’t take God at His Word. In Genesis 12, we read that Abram and Sarai (later “Sarah”) were suffering famine, so they headed to Egypt. In route, Abram concocted a “white” lie to tell the Egyptians. He believed the Egyptians would see Sarai’s beauty, and kill him so they could capture her. Abram asked Sarai to engage in this “white lie” with him and tell the Egyptians that she was his sister. If I was Abram, I would have thought that I was “helping” God keep His end of the covenant by preserving my own life. Plus having him around would be best for Sarai, right? I would have thought that this would hurt no one, and therefore be best for everyone. The problem is, Abram wasn’t God, and he did not take or trust God at His Word! God did not need Abram’s help in this way. Verse 17 tells us that the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of this “white” lie. Abram ended up looking silly when Pharaoh had more decency and discretion than him! Pharaoh said, “…Now then here is your wife. Take her and go!” (v. 19)
God cannot lie. We are called to imitate God. When we take Him at His Word, we show the watching world (the “Pharaohs”) that He is Truth and He is the ultimate Promise-keeper. When we take matters into our own hands—even if it’s just a seemingly little “white” lie—we send the opposite message. We take back the reins of leadership and authorship that we’ve already given to God.