“I can eat this entire box of Girl Scout cookies because I walked a mile today.” “I really wasn’t that mean to her.” “It’s not really a lie because…” “God would want me to disobey this command of His if He knew what was really happening.” “I’m not really drunk. I just had several glasses (I lost count) of wine with dinner.” “I wasn’t gossiping. I was just sharing a prayer request.”
When our kids are little, most of us will spend quite a bit of time teaching them to be honest. We will explain, hand out consequences and tell them what a mess they create when they lie. That is so very important. God makes it very clear He hates lies and if we are trying to raise children to be productive Christians, they must be honest.
I realized something very recently though. We spend a lot of time teaching our kids to be honest to others, but how much time do we spend teaching them to be honest to themselves? Think about it for a minute. Satan may tempt us, but whose brain takes that temptation and adds to the original lie? Whose brain tells itself lies after a sin has been committed to convince us we don’t need to repent?
The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that we spend a lot of time lying to ourselves. Your kids might not be lying to themselves very much yet, but once they begin to really understand the concepts of sin and repentance, those lies will begin. They will begin lying to themselves that what they are about to do is really not wrong or that what they did was justified. The seed of the lies may be from Satan, but your kids will soon learn to take that seed and add lots of their own lies to it.
The lies can even be about the positive things they should be doing, but aren’t – doing something selfish instead. Do any of these self lies sound familiar? “I don’t have time to serve God, because I’m just so busy. (Thought while binge watching television shows.)” “God knows I love Him, I don’t need to go to Bible study.” “God knows it’s important for me to get an athletic scholarship to college, so He would want me to miss Church for the next month or so while I’m on a traveling team.” “I have too much homework to read my Bible and I fall asleep if I start praying. I know God understands.” (Thought while playing games on a device.)
The problem with these self lies is that they are rarely voiced. It will be difficult for you as a parent to make an immediate correction when your kids lie to themselves, because most of the time you will never really know it happened.
Take some time though to regularly talk about the concept. Share with your older kids when you start self lying and how you caught yourself and corrected your thinking. Pay attention on the occasions they voice their self lies. Many times they will be spoken as excuses that they have made to themselves before they make them to you. Take a minute to ignore the problem being addressed and focus on the process of the excuse making. Did they convince themselves the excuse (often a form of a lie or a total lie) was true before they gave it to you?
Teach your kids stories from the Bible of people who told themselves lies before and after they made bad choices. David probably told himself a whole pile of lies when he was going through everything in the story of Bathsheba. Moses was probably telling himself a lie that he couldn’t go talk to Pharaoh when God spoke to him at the burning bush (There is evidence Moses was extremely well educated and he had grown up in the household of Pharaoh. Although he might not have been welcomed, he would have had access and would have been able to hold his own with those educated similarly to him. Not to mention the fact, that he never appeared to have any problems speaking in front of people before or after the excuses he gave God.)
Teaching your kids to not lie to themselves, is an important tool to help them lead a more godly life. Taking some time to intentionally teach them to be honest to themselves is definitely worth the effort.