FAITH & REFLECTION — I’ve read that lying has become a way of life for many people. James Patterson and Peter Kim, authors of “The Day America Told the Truth” report that 91 per cent of those they surveyed lie routinely about trivial things, 36 per cent lie about important matters, 86 per cent lie routinely to their parents, 75 per cent to friends, 73 per cent to siblings and 69 per cent to spouses!
I won’t say that I’ve never lied … or that I’m not capable of lying. We all are. But it is not my pattern or practice. I tried to lie when I was a boy, but my mother, with her great love, (though it seemed cruel at the time) cured me of it. When she suspected that I had told a falsehood, she would put her hands on my shoulders and look intently into my face and say, “Now, you look into my eyes and tell me the truth!” Wow! No medicine like the old-fashioned stuff, right?
Mark Twain said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything” and Abraham Lincoln added, “No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.”
Considering these two adages, I find myself feeling sorry for chronic, pathological liars, for they are in a trap; a trap of their own making.
A store manager heard his clerk tell a customer, “No, ma’am, we haven’t had any for a while and it doesn’t look as if we’ll be getting any soon.” The manager, overhearing the comment came running over to the customer and said, “Of course we’ll have some soon! We placed an order last week.” Then the fuming manager pulled the clerk aside and snarled, “You never, never say we’re out of anything! Say we’ve got it on order and it’s coming. Now, what was it that she wanted anyway?” The clerk replied, “Rain!”
When liars are asked about something they’ve previously shared, they must be scrambling furiously within their mind to remember what it was that they said, and whether it was actually true or not, for there are two things that we know about liars. First, they begin to believe their own lies, and this must be terribly confusing. Secondly, the protective custody of their lies gives birth to new lies; a birth rate that makes rabbits seem unproductive in comparison.
Lying is a serious matter. Proverbs 6:17 says that God hates “a lying tongue.” But it is not incurable. Ephesians 4:25 commands that we, “stop telling lies and speak truth with our neighbours,” suggesting that we’ll know that we’ve stopped the practice of lying, when we begin habitually speaking the truth.
By the way, it’s really helpful to spend time with those who are truthful … Jesus said that He is “the way, the truth and the life.”