From “Growing in the character of a disciple”: Chapter 11 – The complications that arise when we tell the truth, and a look at some exceptional situations where we could lie
As we have seen, the essence of the problem of scruples is that you have a highly developed sense of the importance of honesty in all things at all times, but you don’t yet have the wisdom and discernment to know how to handle every tight corner. Jesus always made it look so easy. When He was put on the spot by an awkward question He always had a brilliantly inspired answer to give. It stopped people in their tracks and got Him off the hook.
That ability would be marvellous to have and would make life so much easier. But what are we meant to do if we don’t have a brilliant mind, which can think at the speed of light and instantly come up with the perfect reply or solution?
It is not too difficult to handle extreme,‘black and white’ situations, where it is very clear that something is, or is not, dishonest. But what about the issues which are much more finely balanced? For example, what about telling the truth where it would mean betraying a confidence, or causing collateral damage to an innocent third party?
In such situations it is as if one is called upon to distinguish between light grey and pale grey rather than black and white. The reality is that we can only learn to distinguish “light grey from pale grey” by:
a) studying the Bible thoroughly, and over many years, until you have a very good knowledge of God’s ways and principles
b) praying to God regularly for His guidance on difficult points
c) being determined always to do what is right, and to pay the price if necessary, rather than just do whatever is expedient or easy
d) being willing to risk making mistakes, and to learn from them, over a long period of time
e) being determined always to obey your conscience, even in the early years, when your wisdom is too small and undeveloped to enable you to avoid these difficulties
If the truth really matters to you, and you are willing to persist for long enough, and to learn from your mistakes, then God will eventually give you a much higher level of discernment. Then you will know how to handle very finely balanced ethical issues, which were previously way beyond you.