“Most High, who has the right to enter your tent or to live on your holy mountain? Those whose way of life is blameless, who always do what is right, who speak the truth from their heart, whose tongue is not used to slander, who do no wrong to friends, cast no discredit on neighbors…”Psalm 15: 1-3
From the beginning of time people have had this struggle with liars. Down through the ages unscrupulous people have twisted facts around, made up facts, and proclaimed false facts as truth. Usually there is something they get out of their lies, often power, prestige, or wealth. Liars are clever and know how to appeal to basic urges in other people. They will make themselves important through these lies. A liar knows they are lying.
When people want to believe the worst about others, or are already suspicious of others, they are quick to swallow any lie that agrees with their preconceived opinions, feelings, and impressions. The proficient liar is skilled at knowing how to interpret and decipher those basic urges and shape a lie to entice people to grab it and then spread it to others. We must be careful that we do not swallow lies that appeal to our preconceptions.
The more a lie is repeated the more plausibility it gains and the next thing we know people give credence to a lie without any second thoughts. The more emotional content the lie has, the more popular it becomes. We have witnessed how “the big lie” — that the election of Joe Biden was fraudulent — caused a massive emotional outburst that led to insurrection and deaths. We have seen how deadly a lie can become if allowed to go too far, until it is called truth and people act on it.
According to Forbes January 27, 2021:
“ … The union representing the U.S. Capitol Police said in a letter sent Wednesday that nearly 140 officers were injured during the Jan. 6 attack. “I have officers who were not issued helmets prior to the attack who have sustained brain injuries,” said union chairman Gus Papathanasiou. “One officer has two cracked ribs and two smashed spinal discs. One officer is going to lose his eye and another was stabbed with a metal fence.”
Truth matters. We need to hold those accountable who produced the lie above, who fostered the lie, and who spread the lie and not just those who participated in the violence of January 6th that resulted because of the lie. To let a lie go unchallenged allows the lie to fester and do more damage. To punish people who acted on the lie without countering the lie creates martyrs. The lie must be exposed as a lie.
We all know this scripture: You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8: 44)
“He speaks his native language.” Sadly, a person can become not just someone who tells lies, but so accustomed to telling lies as to become in fact, a liar. A person becomes a liar when lying becomes their native language. Once we learn that this is who a person has become we need to shy away from their words and be extra cautious of anything they say.
What I find difficult to do is to talk with those who have swallowed a lie and made it into a truth they cling to, not because they are liars, but because it justifies their own preconceived opinions, feelings, and impressions. They want to trust the lie and will turn away from anything that contradicts what, in their hearts, they want to believe. The lie gives them the excuse they crave to justify their behavior. They cling to the lie as if it is truth. How do we talk with them? How do we help them to recognize the lie that we see so clearly? I do not know. It is a puzzlement to me.
We need to be people who seek and speak the truth, for, as scripture says, the truth will set us free. In other words, let us appreciate Philippians 4: 8 — Finally, my siblings, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
We come to know people by their fruit. Perhaps we come to know truth in the same way. If you bought a piece of property in winter and on that property there was a tree and you didn’t know what kind of tree it was, you could simply wait until it produced fruit, and you would easily know what kind of tree it is.
When someone is following the spark of divinity within, they produce good fruit — love, joy, peace, honesty, patience, kindness, generosity, self-control, and an appreciation for life — and you know you have found a good person. If instead they produce hate, misery, violence, lies, impatience, meanness, miserliness, lack of impulse control, and disrespect for life, you know you have found trouble, and someone who has lost touch with the spark of divinity given to each of us.
We can expect that someone with good fruit is more likely to be telling us the truth. It is something to go by. However, we also need to know their mindset and whether or not they have preconceived notions that color how they see the world. This includes knowing ourselves, and how we see the world, for any of us can be caught by lies that appeal to the way we see the world. This is why it is essential to follow Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the light, and not follow the ways of the world.
Again, truth matters. My beloved ones, let no one deceive you, but cling to that spark of divinity within you, and trust God to guide you to what is true.