The ‘Best if used by’ date was a lie.
Tonight my wife told me she had to throw out $20 worth of chicken thighs that had a ‘Best if used by’ date of tomorrow. “When I opened up the package, they smelled really bad,” she told me.
Fortunately for our BBQ chicken dinner plans, the two packs of drumsticks were still good, so those went in the oven while the two packs of thighs went in the trash.
Lauren bought all of this chicken on the same day, it all had the same ‘Best if used by’ date. So why did two packs go bad before that date, while two packs slathered in Sweet Baby Ray’s are going to make us a nice tasty supper?
I should tell you now that the thighs are a different brand than the drumsticks. It could be the store brand uses a different method to calculate expiration dates than the name brand. It could be that one company’s chickens are fed better, or maybe they add special preservatives with the meat to help lengthen its shelf-life.
Then again, if I’m honest, my mind sometimes turns conspiratorial when half of the chicken I thought was going to be on my plate is instead going directly into the trash can. And I wonder: could it be that someone – a manager, perhaps – didn’t want to throw out bad chicken, and so they fudged a little with the expiration date in hopes that the consumer rather than the store would eat the loss, so to speak?
Try to give people the benefit of a doubt, but be wary.
Have you noticed that people lie? In your life to this point, have you experienced that yet? If not, let me clue you in on a little secret you’d do well to learn sooner rather than later: people sometimes will tell you what you want to hear rather than the truth, and usually they do this because it’s to their advantage, and probably your disadvantage.
I don’t know who was in charge of stamping the expiration date on the chicken my wife threw out. They might be a very well-intentioned, trustworthy, super-nice guy… or gal. It’s not fair for me to assume bad motives were responsible for the chicken (and money) wasted tonight. And so I will try to suppress my paranoia and distrust, and give that person I don’t know the benefit of a doubt.
That said, you just never can tell these days.
Volkswagen got caught a week or two ago installing cheater systems in their cars to trick the EPA into thinking their vehicles were more fuel efficient and carbon emission neutral than they actually are. Volkswagen lied, intentionally, deliberately, in order to trick the U.S. government into thinking they were in compliance. Why, you may ask, would they do that? It’s very simple. Volkswagen wanted to make and keep more money. And the regulations they were skirting are expensive, and the rewards for compliance can sometimes make or break strong profitability.
President Obama got up in front of the American people after the UCC shooting spree this week and told gun-control advocates what they wanted to hear. He talked tough. He told us we should be more like Australia and the UK and that we’d be “safer” if we adopted “common sense” measures like those countries have. But in short, he lied to us. When not flat-out saying things which were patently false, President Obama implied things which he surely must know are deceitful and misleading. And why, you may ask, would he do this? Because he and his cronies and allies want more power, and the American people are remiss to give that power over.
In the words of Mao Zedong, “Power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” And you, my fellow Americans, have a lot of power so long as you retain your roughly 300 million firearms.
We’ve grown so used to lying and being lied to.
Can you even say you’re surprised anymore when a politician or corporation or one of their multitudinous representatives gets on TV, or radio or the internet and outright lies to us? If anything, it seems like we’re more shocked when a public personality is being genuinely honest with us.
Take a look at Donald Trump and Ben Carson in the Republican Presidential Primary. Why have they done so incredibly well? Because their supporters not only liked their ideas, but really felt they were being candid candidates, honest human beings. And that, unfortunately, is shocking. All the political pundits have been losing their minds, at a complete loss that honesty and authenticity could actually lead to someone being successful and well received. Why are they so shocked? Because they’re used to everybody being fake, obsessing over the poll numbers, and telling and showing the public whatever they want to hear and see to get what they want from us.
We really have become a jaded society, haven’t we?
But God’s character is pure, uncompromising truthfulness.
Surely you’ve heard what Jesus said of himself.
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father except through me.”
In case you hadn’t noticed, lies and truths are opposites. Isn’t it telling that Jesus is, among other things, “the Truth”?
Consider also what John says elsewhere in the New Testament:
“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
God says lying is a sin, and he hates falsehood.
Given that telling the truth is so intrinsically linked to God’s unchanging, immutable character, it should come as no surprise to us that he instructs us on honesty and integrity.
Consider just two of the many examples in the Old Testament where God makes clear what he thinks about lying and deceit, honesty and integrity.
“Lying lips are an abomination to Yahweh,
but those who act faithfully are his delight.”
“You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am Yahweh.”
Isn’t it curious how deceit and theft are placed right beside one another? Just consider why it is lies are usually told: to get out of trouble for a wrong we’ve done, and to thereby avoid just penalties for our misdeeds; or to receive a reward which we do not deserve, and to get a thing which our actions – past, present, or future – don’t merit.
In other words, lying and deception are a sort of theft. By deceit we take things which don’t belong to us, and possibly cause penalties to fall on others who don’t deserve them because we’ve refused to be dependable and reliable and accept responsibility for our actions and inactions.
Truth and Lies and Chicken Thighs
It may have been unintentional and accidental. I could be making a big deal out of nothing. What, after all, is $20 in garbage chicken between a large, incredibly wealthy international chain of stores and little old me? It’s not the end of the world, and I’m not going to get all bent out of shape because, ultimately, what would that really accomplish anyway?
I would, however, encourage you to embrace truthfulness in your own personal life. Remember the command of Jesus – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” – and cultivate a reputation for trustworthiness.
“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
and favor is better than silver or gold.”
At the end of the day, what is my recourse for the wasted chicken that went bad before it’s time? Well, quite simply, my wife and I have decided to not buy that brand of chicken anymore. Yay for capitalism and the free market!
The more trustworthy label is going to get more of our business in the future, the honest candidate for political office is going to get my vote. The car company or poultry reseller I can’t trust isn’t going to get my business because they’ve tarnished their name and compromised their integrity. The politician who makes a habit of lying isn’t going to get my vote, nor are his supporters and allies. Once they’ve misled me once, I can’t be sure anything they tell me is trustworthy.
“Unequal weights and unequal measures
are both alike an abomination to Yahweh.”
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”