Telling The Truth

by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)

(Chapter 12 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, How To Rear Children)

1. Teach the child the awful reasons for lying.

(1) Cowardice. One is afraid to face the consequences of his acts
(2) Personal gain. This is terrible dishonesty!
(3) Malice

Teach the child how terrible it is not to tell the truth. I can recall hearing Dr. John Rice telling when the truth became so important to him. He was just a little fellow about five years of age when he told something that wasn't true. His mother become so disappointed and made such a big issue out of it that Dr. Rice felt he had committed some awful crime. He wondered if he could ever be forgiven or if he would have to be sent away to an institution. The importance of telling the truth was impressed so strongly upon his little mind and the awfulness of telling something that wasn't true was emphasized so greatly that he never got away from it, even 70 years later. The wise parent will stress over and over the awfulness of untruth and the importance of truth.

2. The child should realize the terrible injury that will be upon him when he lies. The lie hurts the liar more than the one to whom he lies. Much stress should be placed on the fact of facing the father of lies. When one lies he is working in direct partnership with Satan himself. The child should be told what happens to liars. One lie becomes another, then that becomes a bigger one, until finally the penitentiary is filled with people who began lying in childhood.

3. Stress should be placed upon the fact that lying is being a bad member of the team. Compare society with a ball game. Emphasize the disdain the rest of the team has for a particular member who fails to do his best. When one lies he thinks against a society which is built on the confidence, truth, and honesty of the team members. When one lies he hurts the rest of the team and jeopardizes their happiness and success in life.

4. The parent should insist upon exactness in the reporting of an event. This must be so regardless of how small the item may seem. Insistence should be made as to accuracy concerning every detail. There should be no differentiating between white lies and black lies, little lies and big lies. All lies are big and all lies are black!

The child should be trained to pay attention. Here is the reason why many people say things that are not true. Especially is this true in the life of children. Inaccurate statements are made because the mind is occupied with other things and one is not perceptive. Hence, from early childhood one must be trained to be attentive and to grasp all that is going on within the realm of possibility.

Play a little game in which each member of the family tells what he saw on a previous occasion or event. Discuss the incidents that took place. Be sure that as many details a possible are retained and that there is agreement about what happened. This can be made into an interesting game. With small children, a prize could be given to the one who remembered the most details and was the most observant.

Teach the child not to say, "I think." This is a dangerous habit for anyone. Someone has said that knowledge is the basis of accuracy. When a question of fact is asked the child should not say, "I think." He should say, "I do not know," or he should be accurate in answering. Such words could be used as "approximately," but this is not good for habit.

5. Much stress should be placed on keeping one's word. Emphasize the fact that promises are to be binding. They are very sacred. To break one is stealing. It is lying. It is dishonesty. It is breaking a trust.

6. Much attention should be given to the facts that lies can be told in other ways than by words. Here at First Baptist Church of Hammond we have a deaf department. These people cannot hear and they do not speak. Can they lie? Can they tell untruths? It is also true that those of us who can talk and hear can be untruthful without actually speaking words audibly.

7. Cheating on tests is lying. The student is telling the teacher that the material he turns in is his. Since it is not his he is guilty of untruth. How awful this is!

8. Every child should be taught to avoid slander and gossip. One of the commandments says, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." (Exodus 20:16) The wise man said, A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches." (Proverbs 22:1a) Each person has a right to a good name. When we carelessly and idly talk about others we are tempted to enlarge into that which is not true, and for that matter, many times stories are sincerely told wrongly which damage many people.

Play the game of "gossip" with your child. Write out a little incident. Read it one day to a child. Have him tell it the next day to another member of the family and have that one tell it to another. Continue until it is passed through the entire family. The last one tells it as it reached him. Compare it with the first account pointing out the danger of idle talk. Remind the child that people who repeat a slander and gossip are not respectable. People will soon avoid them and be afraid to trust them. Hence, it is to the child's own interest not to become a gossip. Teach him to fill his life with good things. Teach him to read and think for himself, to stay busy, and never to repeat the casual remarks of others. Advise him that the words "he said" and "she said" are words never to be used, for as someone has said, "They are little hinges to gates of gossip."

9. Every child should be taught to pay his debts on time. As is mentioned in other chapters one who is late in paying a debt is dishonest for the amount of time he is late. Stress over and over and over again the importance of being punctual in paying debts.

10. Promptness should be strongly emphasized. If a child promises his mother to be home at a certain time, he should keep the promise. The life of the child who is taught promptness will be far richer and happier because he has learned to keep his word.

The wise parent will drill his child on truthfulness, will teach him the high esteem of this virtue, and will lead him to become an adult who can be trusted and respected in his dealings with others.


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"I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion, that has warmed this cold world's heart for two thousand years." óBilly Sunday