Dealing with liars leaves me conflicted.
Am I supposed to allow them to lie to me, unchallenged?
Am I supposed to confront them with their lies?
If I try to gently restore them to the truth, how exactly would I go about doing that?
I know I should pray for them.
I keep hearing I’m supposed to hate the sin, but love the sinner. I’m working on that. I sense that I need to separate my feelings about their behavior from any actions I take, but that’s HARD to do.
I’m not gonna lie to you, I have a problem with liars.
I have a problem respecting liars.
I have a problem with being a liar sometimes. Ugh!
It’s true: I am not always completely honest with others. Brutal honesty doesn’t appeal much to me. In fact, I’m not sure that I ever want to develop a taste for that kind of interaction with others.
Does that make me a liar? Hmmm…
I, like others, find social convention demands I interact with grace in public situations, which sometimes means I cannot be completely honest in my impressions of and sharing with others. A good thing, I think. Certainly I feel it is a blessing when they are not completely honest with me about every impression they have of me. Heavens, who wants to hear every thought someone else has about them? Scary!
Let me say pretty emphatically that I think telling lies as a means of shielding one’s self from consequences in life is wrong. It’s sin to me. But do I believe that in every case, all the time?
Think Corrie Ten Boom. Think the Hiding Place. Is it wrong to lie to those who would take the truth I would tell them and hurt others because of it?
So many variables, and so much danger in granting ourselves too much wiggle room!
I am of the Wesleyan persuasion regarding how I approach faith and sin. That means I define sin as a deliberate act of rebellion connected to a known principle, rule, or command from God. I see sin as willful disobedience…akin to the plot the religious leaders entered into when they colluded with Judas to betray Jesus and then handed him over to the Roman government to be beaten, murdered, and removed from public view. They knew what they did was deliberate, hateful, and wrong (sin), but they did it anyway, because they “needed to/wanted to/had to” maintain the status quo so as to shield their reputations and power bases. Easter having just passed, this act of rebellion (sin) is fresh in my mind, and therefore easily called upon to make my point.
While doing research today, I found some interesting food for thought on the Wesleyan definition of sin. Maybe you’d like to check it out, especially if you are not Wesleyan and have never understood how they handle sin inside the confines of their faith journeys. The writer of that post is Keith Drury, a VIP in Wesleyan circles and someone who can pretty much be depended upon to understand the Wesleyan definition of sin and communicate it to the public in trustworthy ways.
My problem: Determining what is deliberate deceit, and what is a subconscious behavior that is so deeply mired in denial that it is not readily understood as deliberate by the one who uses it to get along in life.
For instance: Someone regularly withholds information from others (friends, family, co-workers), in order to maintain control over these others, and/or avoid fights or anger levied at them when they make “promises” they are unable to later keep. Is that deliberate sin, or a bad habit?
Or this: Someone regularly omits information until the timing is right for them to reveal it. They are looking for an advantage in their communications, but not in a conscious way. They have learned to watch what they say and limit their comments to times when tempers are less likely to flare. I can see how this pattern would develop when one lives with an abuser, addict, or an alcoholic. I can easily see this as a habit developed unwittingly. Not deliberate.
I guess I believe some people have been so shaped by life and their interactions with others that they lie pretty easily, and without realizing how insidious a sin it is or how much it hurts others who trust them to tell the truth.
I could go on and on talking about this today, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that I have a hard enough time trying to figure out what I ought to say and when I ought to say it/share it/reveal it, to want to avoid investing massive amounts of my time dissecting others lies and trying to figure good motives for why they devise them. When they lie to me, though, that’s different. Then, I am ready to dig in my heels and fight the good fight to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
To be certain, separating the dirty liars from the accidental or occasional liars is hard work, in my opinion.
I want to close this epic post with these words from The Bible, that I was led to consider after a conversation with a friend today. I think this is relevant to my inner dialogue regarding lying.
“But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.” Jude 1:20-23 [emphasis, mine. ljh]
When have you found it hard to hate the lies, but love the liars? Do you ever withhold information in an unconscious way? Under what circumstances do you think it would be right to consciously withhold “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”