“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16)
Who doesn’t love the wonderful story of Pinnochio? First made into film by Disney in the 1940-ies it tells a good story to illustrate our Word # 9. Pinocchio is known for having a short nose that became longer whenever he told a lie. In the book, written by the Italian Carlo Collodi in 1883, the Blue Fairy tells Pinocchio, “Every time you tell a lie, your nose will grow. When you tell the truth, it will shrink.” “Pinocchio, you can only become a real boy if you learn how to be brave, honest and generous.”
Can you imagine that every time we told a lie, even a white lie, our noses would grow for all to see? Spanish researchers at the University of Granada found through thermography techniques, (and this was subsequently confirmed by many researchers) that the temperature of the nose actually increases when lying - and called this the Pinnochio effect. This may not help us tell when someone is lying to us, but science tells us that many physiological changes occur when lying.
According to the Blue Fairy, to become a real boy he had to obey his conscience. It did not take long for Pinocchio to fail. He found it expedient to lie but each time he did his nose became longer and eventually turned into a tree limb. His falsehoods had observable consequences. As the Blue Fairy wisely said, “A lie keeps growing and growing until it’s as plain as the nose on your face.”
In the Disney film, Jimminy Cricket was Pinnochio’s conscience. The lovable little cricket started to dance while twirling his umbrella and sang; “Just let your conscience be your guide.” "When you get in trouble and you don't know right from wrong, Give a little whistle!"… "When you meet temptation and the urge is very strong, give a little whistle! Give a little whistle!"
Our whistle must be our conscience. "Take the straight and narrow path - And always let your conscience be your guide," Jimminy sang. Now, most people know that their actions should be guided by their conscience. Some take this to mean, "I think this is right," or, "I think this is what I should do." Some take it to an even easier level and say things like, "I need to follow my heart." However, there is a problem with that. Everyone does what they think is right (or at least seems to be right to themselves), but the underlying action is not necessarily guided by the right values.
Our conscience is a powerful tool for making the right choices. If your conscience is not properly formed, then it will not lead you in the right direction. In a society in which truth is relative, we need a compass which will always refer to a fixed point which never changes. This is, of course, the Bible, which tells us that God is the ultimate standard of truth. – true North! We can navigate the many choices using the Bible as a compass.
God’s Word, the Bible is the absolute standard of truth. Without recognizing this, we are given over to a relative meaning of truth in which truth for one person my not be truth for another. The philosopher Immanual Kant Kant stopped short of embracing a pwersonal God. He embraced God through reason in ethics, and insisted that we must live as though there is a God. In other words, if there is no just God, and morality is flexible. Why be moral at all—if I can be immoral, get away with it, and better my position?
I am fascinated by the true story of Jesus standing before Pilate who asked him, “What is truth?” Pilate would have spoken Latin, “Quid est veritas?” It is surmised that Jesus replied in an anagram. “Est vir qui adest!” “He who stands before you.” Jesus did say “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6) If Jesus is the truth, getting to know Him and Hos ways, following His teachings will lead us into all the truth. ““If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
Making the right choices?
Truthtelling is the norm in the Bible and is rooted in God’s nature. That is why we can rely on His promises and build our lives on the truth of the Bible itself. As Christians, we have been given the Spirit of God and the Holy Spirit will work on my conscience to guide me into making the right decisions. “I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 9:1)
Conscience is a word derived from the Latin ‘con ‘, meaning together, and ‘science’, meaning to know. So, our conscience is to know, together with God what is true.