Hope for your financial life and beyond

Ways We Lie About Money

Have you ever told a little white lie about money? What might a “money-lie” look like? Here are some examples I could think of:

*Exaggerating your net worth or monthly income on a blog post.

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*Saying you got a better deal on an item than you really did.

*Telling someone who asked for money that you didn’t have any with you to give (ashamed to say I’m guilty here).

*Pretending you gave more to a cause than you actually did.

*Hiding or covering up your spending habits. (Guilty here as well and as you can read about here).

*Failing to report income earned in cash on your tax forms.

Why are we so apt to distort the truth? I think the core of the issue revolves around three main principles:

1. We are by nature selfish people. It takes effort to care about others’ interests.

2. We want the admiration of others. Therefore we try to make ourselves look better in their eyes.

3. We believe in rationalization and denial. We use these as tools to justify our actions.

The worst part about this is we are smart enough to know better. We know our deception will lead to consequences, yet we do it anyway. We fail to believe that the axiom, “Be sure your sin will find you out” applies to us.

You may not know this but that phrase has its origins in the Bible (see Numbers 32:23). And since it is Theology Thursday here at Luke1428, I want to share a story about a couple in the Bible who found this out the hard way when they told their own money-lie.

Bible history tells us the movement known as the church began in the book of Acts. The new converts were worshipping together and sharing their possessions and wealth to meet the church’s needs. In fact, were told in Acts 4 that a man named Barnabas sold a piece of property and gave the proceeds to the church. The implication in Acts 4:36-37 is that he gave all the money he received for the sale.

Photo of a Collection PlateShortly thereafter a husband and wife, Ananias and Sapphira, also sold a piece of land and brought the proceeds to Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples. However, they decided to keep back part of the proceeds for themselves (5:2). No big deal, right? That seems like a wise financial move – give to the church but set aside money to provide for your needs.

However, from a close reading and interpretation of verse 3, we realize they misrepresented to the church how much they actually sold the property for. They said the property had sold for “X” amount and they were giving ALL the proceeds of the sale to the church, when in fact that was not the case. That’s right…they lied to the church and to God.

Did I mention there are always consequences for lying? Peter’s rebuke of their deception was powerful and harsh (5:3-4). And God’s judgment for their deeds was swift and frightening as He chose to send a message to the early church that this type of behavior among believers would not be tolerated. There, at the spot where they told the lie, God supernaturally kills Ananias and Sapphira (5:5-10).

I know you probably have questions running through your head right now about what kind of a loving God would judge people this way. I’m not suggesting God is going to strike us down when we lie. If he did it would be a really lonely world. Instead, I would like to conclude this post by analyzing the motivation of Ananias and Sapphira because I think I see a link between their story and the actions of Barnabas that we can learn from.

I believe Barnabas’ generous donation and personal financial sacrifice was met with great applause within the circles of the church. Think of the eyeballs popping and the hushed whispers being spread through the congregation as Barnabas places his offering at the disciple’s feet. “He did what!? You mean he gave everything? What a sacrifice!” As word spread, I’m sure he received many pats on the back and was held in high esteem for his generosity. (None of this praise he was looking for by the way. His giving motives were pure.)

I have to believe Ananias and Sapphira wanted a piece of the praise-action Barnabas was getting. They wanted for people to lift them up on their shoulders and carry them off the field to thunderous applause. Their rationalized motives were selfishly motivated and it cost them big time.

It’s a huge trap we all can fall into – selfishly seeking the admiration of others. Lying about money issues can cost us relationships, our personal integrity, a job, and maybe our personal freedom should we choose a lie that leads to legal action. We can’t live in denial that we will escape consequences. You can be sure this type of sin, like all others, will find you out.

What other “money lies” can you think of? Do you have an experience or know of someone who lied about money and it backfired on them?

Next Post: Considerations When Starting a Business

Prior Post: Drawing a Line in the Sand – A $37 Decision

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Comments

  1. I think I’ve lied to myself more than I have other people. I can always talk myself into or justify a purchase..it’s like my devil wins over my angel. lol! But I’m getting a lot better at it. The angel has been lifting weights. ha ha

  2. Kevin Watts says:

    Great post. I have myself told a few small lies regarding the amount I paid for something. Sometimes I think I told those lies was to make me feel better in the amount of money I spend on an item.

    • The times I’ve done that it’s because I didn’t want someone to know how much I spent on something – usually to the high end. In other words, I spent more on the item than I was willing to admit.

  3. I rationalized a lot in the past but now I don’t feel like I need to. Looking at yourself in the mirror and knowing that your spending is out of control is hard, but I’ve been there.

  4. “We believe in rationalization and denial. We use these as tools to justify our actions.” I see those all the time and have been guilty of it myself too. Many people in debt probably rationalized themselves there, justifying all their spending with the ” they earned it” mentality. I certainly don’t condone lying to others about money, but I think it’s even more dangerous when we lie to ourselves about our finances. And so many people do it too.

    • You are right on Shannon. People turn a blind eye to their financial problems all the time. I was there at one point in my life, thinking that what I was doing with my spending habits was not destructive. Glad that I finally started being honest with myself.

  5. I agree with @twitter-866900214:disqus. People say little lies to make them feel better about their decision. I have done it before, not so much anymore though. My wife does it with sale items, but I am able to figure out that one pretty quick. Everyone enjoys satisfaction and don’t want to make themselves feel bad.

    • I completely agree Grayson…no one wants to make themselves feel bad. In the short term, lying may feel good but I have to believe that it doesn’t lead to long term satisfaction. You just have to keep telling one lie to cover the last one.

  6. In most cases I think people embellish the truth to feel better like the story you told. Who wants to talk about feeling sad or bad all the time, when they can embellish to get more blog hits or friends talking about them. I, on the other hand, am a complete opposite.

    I am a pretty straight forward person. I don’t lie, and I say things the way I see them, but that in itself gets me in trouble. I have to white lie or make sure I follow it up with “you don’t really have to listen to that” or “you don’t have to tell me that”, because I have a hard time considering others feelings. I look at facts as facts, not as hurt feelings, so sometimes lying helps. I don’t lie on my blog though; I don’t want to act like something I am not just to get blog hits or fake followers.

    • To be sure, our words can really affect others like you said and we have to consider people’s feelings. That does make it difficult at times to really tell the truth, especially when someone asks our opinion and we don’t want to hurt their feelings with negative feedback. As tough as it is though, it’s probably better to give honest feedback (done gently and in love). I think they would appreciate that more in the end even if it’s painful to hear up front.

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