Some things that lying is not:
- Mistakes. I dislike it when people will say something like, "I spent three hours on that project. Oh, wait, I lied, it was two hours." No, the speaker simply made a mistake. Don't beat yourself up, mmmkay?
- Carelessness. Sometimes (especially in online forums and such) people will misquote. It happens. Accept correction graciously and move on.
- Misunderstanding. Sorry that you misunderstood me. I should either rewrite it or you should reread it.
- Creative embellishments. Nobody has "said it a million times", that's just hyperbole to make a point. Writers (and speakers) expect readers (and listeners) to have some degree of sense.
- Jokes can be a form of creative embellishment, or they can be "free-standing". Some people need to get a sense of humor, capice?
- Disagreement. You think this, I believe that; neither one is lying. A fact is a fact, it's the interpretations of facts that cause disagreement.
- Erroneous use of quotes, data, information. Someone is attempting to prove a point, has a wrong idea about what he is citing, but still believes it. He's not lying, he's just wrong (in your eyes). Move on.
- Software issues. I have seen people called a liar because a comment was "deleted". Well, my comment was deleted, too. Knowing the writer's style and track record, I believed him when he said that Blogger was acting up — especially after I had some software hiccups with Blogger as well. Also, I attempted to publish articles at a future date, and the software released the immediately and not in three days like I wanted. I deleted them and republished them when I wanted them published. Was I lying? Not at all.
I was just about to discuss that, good timing with your question.
If you're telling lies, you will be caught. What happens then?
- Loss of credibility. "You quoted somebody and I checked the source, and what the other guy really meant was nothing like what you wanted me to think. I'm not reading your stuff again."
- Backing it up. "OK, Blatherton, you said that you know how to speak Swahili. We're sending you to Africa to represent the company. You're leaving tomorrow."
- Loss of respect. "You said there was nothing going on between you two, and now this! How can I trust you ever again?" Liars are held in contempt.
- Lie to the police or the courts, you can go to jail. Slander and libel sometimes have jail time, sometimes not, but you can get sued.
- Divine judgment. There are people who have no regard for God, ignoring the Ninth Commandment (Exodus 20.16) and do not believe that liars will be judged (Rev. 21.8). I realize that this is not quite in the GTD category, but it's still very important (Mark 8.36).
People who dislike you will still call you a liar and play "gotcha" no matter how right you are, but you can have peace with your own integrity and your conscience before God. And you won't have to go into damage repair mode; fixing stuff that should not have been done is counterproductive at best.