Gold Medal Truthfulness?

The Olympic Summer Games have just been completed in Brazil. Two weeks of watching sports that I won’t care anything about for the next 206 weeks. When you don’t have satellite or cable, your options are limited when you decide to sit down and watch some television. That’s one reason why we watch less TV but also the reason that when we decided to watch the only choice was really the Olympics.

At times it was entertaining and at others it was nice motivation for a nap. Above all of the accomplishments that were made athletically in Brazil, the most popular story concerned something that happened out of the athletic arena.

Ryan Lochte and three of his swimming teammates decided to go have a little fun one evening after their competitions were completed. Nothing wrong with that, we all need to have a little fun. It seems they were out in the wee hours of the morning, and we can all hear our mother’s voice in our heads, or at least I can, saying, “Nothing good happens when you’re out after midnight. The only thing you will find then is trouble.”

After enjoying a good time and some adult beverages, they decided to make their way back to wherever Olympians go to sleep. But along the way a decision was made to stop at a gas station. That morning we woke up to news that some of our Olympic athletes had been robbed at gunpoint. There was outrage and questions about how Brazilian authorities could allow this to happen. The perpetrators must be apprehended and justice must be served. And immediately if you don’t mind, after all we are quickly bored and move on to more important things in the blink of an eye.

%22Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name.%22

As time passed it seemed like there were holes in the story. Then the holes turned into craters, then eventually it unraveled. Why do we have such a hard time with being truthful? We have all been told that “Honesty is the best policy.” I understand as I write this and consider the current political environment and, for that matter, the moral environment of this country, truth is as rare as an actual Yeti siting.

All Ryan Lochte had to do was tell the truth: “We were out late, had a few too many drinks of courage, stopped to use the restroom but I behaved immaturely and rudely. I did not set a good example for my teammates. My behavior was unacceptable and I apologize to the gas station owner and employees, the people of Rio and Brazil, my teammates, my country and my family.” It would have been a story that lasted a day at the most but would have soon been forgotten.

It seems like it was easier to lie in the good, old days. It used to be your word against someone else’s word. If you were good enough you could get away with it. At least for a while. Eventually the truth does come out. But today, you can’t go anywhere and not expect to be on camera. If there aren’t surveillance cameras, there are people with cell phones, which means they have a camera. Is there any place we can go and not expect to be seen?

It reminds me of the account of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God. When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened.” Acts 5:1-5 (NIV).

Obviously, Ryan Lochte didn’t meet the same end as Ananias. At least not physically. And the same is true for all of us. We have all been deceitful. We might not experience physical death but what about the death of our witness, our reputation, our name and our credibility?

It’s really tempting to lie when you live in a world that seems not only to accept it but in some cases glorify it. Being less than truthful is never acceptable to God. We can lie and fool a lot of people for a long time but we can never fool God for an instance.

Ryan Lochte has a long road to try and recover the credibility and reputation he once had. Literally, all of his endorsement deals are dead. He may never get back to where he was. It is unfortunate to think that someone who accomplished so much and won so many Olympic medals would be remembered for this one deceitful incident.

About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, ‘Tell me, is this the price that you and Ananias got for the land?’ ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘that is the price.’ Peter said to her, ‘How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.’ At that moment she fell down at his feet and died.” Acts 5:7-10a (NIV).

We have to remember that as followers of Christ it is not only our name we carry but that of our Lord and Savior as well. One lie has the potential to cause great harm. Are we walking our talk? If not, isn’t that a form of lying?  Are we living what we are saying? Or are we setting an example of “Do as I say, not as I do?”

“In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
– George Orwell.

Let us all be “revolutionary” and be honest and truthful in our talk and our walk. God demands it and Christ deserves it.

Run to the cross!


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