One Sunday night a friend named Marc Moore came up to me laughing. He said, “You’ll never believe what Matthew told me in Sunday School.” Matthew was 5 at the time. “Matthew said, ‘Our house is overrun with cockroaches. Every morning when I get up you have to sweep the roaches out of the way just to walk through the room.’”
I laughed out loud. “Where in the world did he get that?”
I was still laughing when I told Amy. She didn’t think it was funny at all. In fact, Amy was horrified that Matthew would go around telling people that her clean house was a roach motel!
I quickly wiped the smile off my face and told her I’d get to the bottom of it. I called the little yarn spinner into the room.
“Matthew Ben Dye.”
When he heard his whole name, he knew a storm was brewing and braced himself for heavy weather.
“Why did you tell Mr. Marc that our house was covered in roaches?”
A look of horror. Busted. His first defense was to go on the offense.
Amy said, “What?”
Matthew persisted, “I see roaches all the time.”
“You do not. I’ve never seen a roach in this house.”
He knew that strategy was going nowhere so he came clean. “Well I did see a dead cockroach in front of the fireplace once.”
“Matthew Ben, one dead roach in front of the fireplace is not a house covered in roaches!”
He hung his head, “Sorry.”
I was still fighting back a smile at the thought of his exaggerated roach story as I tried to turn it into a teachable moment. “Matthew, our words are important. We must not exaggerate the truth to make other people more interested.”
Amy joined me. “Daddy tells stories in church but he never makes them up and he never exaggerates. He only speaks what is true. You must do that so that people will always trust you.”
Matthew bounded away glad to have avoided a swat and hopefully the wiser. And I pondered my own advice. How important it is to speak only what we know. Our integrity is measured by our truthfulness. Jesus said, “I am the truth.” We are called to go out and tell the truth.
(Ephesians 4:25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH, EACH ONE of you, WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.