Don’t Call It ‘Embellishment’

25 Jan

Pastor Mike was a wise old man. “Next week I plan to preach about the sin of lying,” he told his congregation. “To help you understand my sermon, I want you all to read Mark 17.”

HandsRaised_croppedThe following Sunday, Pastor Mike walked to the pulpit and looked over his flock. Just before he delivered his sermon, he asked for a show of hands.

“All right, people,” he said, “How many of you read Mark 17 this week?” Every hand went up.

“Now that’s interesting,” Pastor Mike said with a grin. “Mark only has 16 chapters. Now you know why I’m preaching on the sin of lying this week!” *

While that kind of lying is obvious, there’s another kind of lie that’s not. It’s called “embellishment.” Embellishment is a temptation for anyone, but especially communicators – even Christian ones.

When I traveled with a Christian ministry, people called it “evangelistically speaking.” Some speakers are known to pump up their evangelism statistics … as if God saving even ONE soul were not miraculous enough!brown and beige scroll textured border pattern

I caught myself embellishing the truth recently as I shared a story with a Christian friend. The story I had to share already had touches of the wonder of God all over it, but for some reason, I felt compelled to add to the story, to embellish it with extra details. It was all false “fluff” to make the story more appealing, I thought.

But later, as I contemplated why I did this, I believe the Spirit of God spoke to my heart: “The Devil is a liar, and you played into his hands. This was devilish embellishment.”

I didn’t like the sound of that – devilish embellishment. But isn’t that what embellishing the truth is? The more I thought about it, the more I knew God was convicting my heart. And with good cause.

It was Satan’s strategy from the beginning to ruthlessly misrepresent the words of God.

Sometimes Satan takes away from God’s Word; sometimes he adds to it. The Serpent (Satan) told Eve she would become like God if she ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:5); but all God had said to Adam was, “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Satan embellished the truth to make a better story … to tempt Eve.

Revelation 22:18-19 warns people not to add to or take away from God’s Word. Some people choose to ignore that warning. They either overlook (ignore) parts of the scripture, or they make it say something it’s not. Some question it altogether! But God is clear when He says, “Don’t tamper with my words!”

Likewise, when we embellish our stories – especially our stories about how God worked – we’re tampering with the truth.

Why do we do this?

  1. We want people to admire us. Maybe we are insecure about our standing with people. We want them to think we are smart … knowledgeable … authoritative. We embellish to draw more attention, to garner praise for ourselves.
  2. We want people to remember us. If our stories are “better,” we think, they’ll be remembered and perhaps, quoted. We’ll become famous!
  3. We may even want people to be like us. And this is especially sad, because we should be pointing to Jesus. We should want people to be like Him!

Padding a story should never be called “embellishment.” And it’s not just exaggeration. It is lying, pure and simple. (Actually, it’s not so pure. It’s wrong, it’s foolish, and it’s all  rooted in pride!)

Satan, the Father of Lies (John 8:44), wants us to follow in his footsteps instead of following Christ, who is the Truth (John 14:6). Jesus, the greatest storyteller who ever lived, is our example. He knew how to wield the truth of scripture in creative ways. Sometimes He made up stories (parables) to teach a truth principle or make a point; but we never see Him “adding” to true stories.

The Word of God admonishes us to speak truth to each other (Ephesians 4:25). The next time I’m tempted to embellish a story, I’m going to stop, ask myself why I’m tempted … and then follow Jesus!

Whose example are you following? Are you struggling with exaggeration or embellishment of the truth? Ask the Lord to give you a truthful heart that only pours out truthful stories.

– Dawn

*Humor adapted from Christian jokes at


2 Responses to “Don’t Call It ‘Embellishment’”

  1. Lynn H Mosher January 26, 2014 at 1:45 am #

    Loved your joke, Dawn! This was a great post and food for thought. Thanks so much for exposing embellishment!

    • Dawn Wilson January 26, 2014 at 3:09 am #

      Thank you, Lynn. It had to be said. (And I’m not exaggerating.)

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