The Gospel in our Lies

by Rob Tims

Lying can be quite convenient when we want to get something we love more than the trust we break to get it. Parenting is by far and away the grandest arena for seeing this inaction. We’ve busted our kids on it many times over the past year, and discipline has varied (as has the effect of the discipline on the behavior).

I recall the time my boys were asked to eat 6 baby carrots (along with the rest of their lunch) if they wanted any dessert (generally speaking, dessert is for non-whiners who either clean their plates or bravely risk regurgitation by trying everything we put on their plate). One of them ate them all, while the other ate two and threw four into the trash while parents were upstairs.

As I came down the stairs and saw them reaching for dessert at the kitchen counter, I asked, “Did you guys eat your carrots?”

Facial expressions alone gave them away. I could tell who had and who hadn’t. But only one of them told the truth as they both chimed, “Yes sir!”

“So you ate yours?” I said the known perpetrator.

“Yes sir.”

“So if I open this trash can and look down, I won’t see carrots in it?”

“Yes sir.”

(Open garbage can).

Now, ironically, because it was a tall, thin can … and because it was essentially empty … and because I didn’t have on my glasses … and because baby carrots are small … I technically didn’t see any carrots in the can, and I almost … ALMOST … said, “Great!”

But before I could close the lid on the can, my son broke down.

“Ooohhhhh … I’m sorry, Daddy … I’m sorry!”

Genuine despair. Genuine heartbreak. He was a broken child.

I led him to a different room. Discipline was issued, and the following conversation ensued.

“Daddy, I don’t know why I do it! Why do I do it?!”

“Because of Adam and Eve and their sin in the garden, buddy.”

“But I don’t know what to do about it.”

“You have to trust that Jesus was good enough for you, buddy.” (The key to not lying is to believe that Jesus never lied, not trying harder to prove to God that you’re not a liar)

(My son, incredulously): “I know THAT, dad.”

(Me, in my head:) Really? Cause just a second ago you said you didn’t know why or what to do about it!

That’s what I was thinking … but instead, I rubbed my hands through his hair (he loves that), and said, “I hope that you do, buddy … I hope that you do.”

And tonight, as I write this post, I yet again pray that he does know the gospel. In a way, he already does … but in a way, he doesn’t.

Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.

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