Tuesday, April 9, 2019

A Little White Lie

Yesterday, we looked at how dangerous it is to make decisions without asking God, for we can only ever act on what we know and never on what we don't know. And the truth is that with our limited understanding, we can convince ourselves of a lot of things - justify a lot of things - that maybe we couldn't justify if we truly knew what God knows. 

It's why we have to ask Him.

Take the example we often used in one of my philosophy courses. Students were asked whether lying is wrong. Of course, lying is wrong; I've written on this before. It is wrong because it is based on the characteristic of God that is Truth. If God is truth, then un-truth is wrong. Plain and simple. But ask students if it is ever okay to lie, and they can come up with all kinds of justifications and circumstances where it would probably be okay.

The most famous one of these is Nazi Germany. If you were a sympathizer in Nazi Germany and had a Jew hiding under your floor boards, is it okay to lie to the Nazis when they come knocking on the door? Is it okay to deny the presence of the Jew in your house in order to save his life from the evil regime that seeks to take it? 

Unhesitatingly, overwhelmingly, we'd say "yes" to this. Yes, it is absolutely okay to lie in this situation. But here is another one of those situations where we only know what we know and we cannot fathom what we don't know. What we don't know may change the entire situation. 

What if, for example, this one Jew that you were hiding was an ingenious Jew, a mastermind at concocting schemes and playing them out? What if this Jew is the one that would be able to dig a tunnel or build a contraption or devise a plan to get thousands of other Jews safely out of the concentration camps...and all he has to do is get there himself to do it? What if he's the one who will save others, but you were limited by your own knowledge of knowing what you thought you knew about him, so you lied to save him? 

Now, all of a sudden...is it okay to lie to protect a Jew in Nazi Germany? Is it okay to lie if, in saving that one, you condemned thousands of others, for no other reason than that you did not know what you did not know? 

It's getting sticky, isn't it? This is exactly why we always have to pray, even when it seems so obvious, and ask God what He sees that we don't see. We have to ask God for eyes to see what we don't yet see or, at the very least, for the wisdom to remember that there is more than our human minds have so far comprehended. 

Israel made a treaty with a neighboring nation that God had told them not to make a treaty with, all because it seemed obvious in their eyes who these people must be. But God knew who these people were...and Israel never asked Him. 

At some point, all of us will stand before God, and we will see all the things that we never saw, learn all the things that we never knew, and we will repent for some of the decisions we made. We will cry out and say, Lord, how did You let me make such a decision? It was disastrous! I can see that now. 

And the Lord will simply look at us and respond, "You never asked Me." 

Let us, then, be a people who ask Him. Even, perhaps especially, when it seems so simple. 

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