What do you mean, Phib?” asked Miss Squeers, looking in her own little mirror, where, like most of us, she saw – not herself, but the reflection of some pleasant image held in her own brain.” – Charles Dickens –
I recently came across some research conducted a number of years ago at the Institute of Child Study at Toronto University. It appears that 1,200 children ranging in age from 2 to 17 took part in an “honesty” test. The study concluded that only about 20 percent of the 2-year-olds were able to tell a lie. But by age 4, 90 percent were capable of cognitive dishonesty. Deceitfulness reached a peek at age 12 according to these researchers.
In another study conducted in 2002 at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, researchers found that 60 percent of adults lied at least once during a 10-minute conversation and most spoke an average of two or three lies in that time frame. The data suggests that while men and women lie about different things, the quantity of their “fibs” was about the same. I could quote from dozens of additional research studies, but in the end we would reach this simple conclusion; we are all big, fat liars. Not necessary compulsive deceivers. But in the strictest sense, even embellishing a story just a bit is considered deceitful by some. Mea culpa, mea culpa.
Of course, we don’t like to think of ourselves as a liar; that kind of transparency bruises our self-esteem. So, we lie to ourselves about that too. Even you pillars of conversational truthfulness may be living a life oblivious to the lies we tell ourselves.
Every lie is really two lies ” the lie we tell others and the lie we tell ourselves to justify it.” – Robert Brault
By definition, lying means: “to express what is false or to convey a false impression.” Examples of “self-deception” might include a husband who is lying to himself as he ignores the obvious signs that his wife is carrying on with another man or, an alcoholic who is lying to himself as he seeks to reassure family and friends that his excessive drinking is completely under control. What about you? Do any of these lies sound familiar to you?
Lie #1: “I am not a judgmental person.”
Sorry, we are all judgmental. Researchers have discovered that on average we take less than a second to form preliminary judgments. It’s just how we are wired. Not all forms of judgment are bad. Sound judgment is a balanced process of evaluation ending with well-considered conclusions. On the other hand, judgmentalism is emotional reasoning with only superficial evaluations ending in snap decisions.
I like what the late reggae singer Bob Marley once said,
“Who are you to judge the life I live? I know I’m not perfect – and I don’t live to be – but before you start pointing fingers…make sure your hands are clean!”
For all of my bible touting fundamentalist friends now upset with me for quoting a Rastafarian, the New Testament writer James put it this way,
11-12 “Never rip each other to pieces, my brothers. If you do you are judging your brother and setting yourself up in the place of God’s Law; you have become in fact a critic of the Law. Yet if you start to criticize the Law instead of obeying it you are setting yourself up as judge, and there is only one judge, the one who gave the Law, to whom belongs absolute power of life and death. How can you then be so silly as to imagine that you are your neighbor’s judge?” (James 4:11-12 – Phillips)
Jesus said, “Let he who is without sin among you cast the first stone”. In other words, if you aren’t perfect, stop judging my imperfections (believe me, I have not forgotten them).
I am politically incorrect, that’s true. Political correctness to me is just intellectual terrorism. I find that really scary, and I won’t be intimidated into changing my mind. Everyone isn’t going to love you all the time.” – Mel Gibson
Lie #2: “It is ‘politically incorrect’ or ‘insensitive’ to take a strong stand for what you believe in.”
By widely held definition, Political Correctness is an attitude or policy whereby we do not offend or upset any group of people in a society who are believed to have a disadvantage or differing point of view. In the USA, political correctness is most frequently embraced by pseudointellectuals who use this premise to infringe upon the constitutionally protected right to freedom of religion and speech. There will always be people with whom you disagree. Never allow them to shame you into silence and submission under the ruse of not offending or upsetting another group of people in society. Blind subservience will always compromise your good judgment.
Can you imagine if the Newer Testament writer Paul were alive today? What would he say around the PC crowd? Do you think he would tell his followers to tone down the rhetoric because the Gospel might offend someone? I don’t think so. Listen to what he actually said,
16-17 “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel. I see it as the very power of God working for the salvation of everyone who believes it, both Jew and Greek. I see in it God’s plan for imparting righteousness to men, a process begun and continued by their faith. For, as the scripture says: ‘the just shall live by faith’.” (Romans 1:16-17 – Phillips)
Politically Correct? Not so much. But it is the truth. Remember, “…God is always true even if every man lies.” The Holy Writings say, “Speak the truth and you will not be proven wrong.” (Romans 3:4)
You always do what you want to do. This is true with every act. You may say that you had to do something, or that you were forced to, but actually, whatever you do, you do by choice. Only you have the power to choose for yourself.” – W. Clement Stone
Lie #3: “I have no choice, this is just who I am.”
Do you really believe that? We always have a choice – even if it’s only a choice to control our own attitude. But I admit, it’s much easier (and less painful) to place blame on someone or something rather than to accept personal responsibility. Life is all about choices. There is no such thing as doing nothing. A failure to make a choice is in itself a choice. In the end, the sum of your existence here on earth is the outcome of all the choices you make, whether intentional or by default.
Even our religious faith is a choice. Christianity teaches that Jesus opened a door for us to return to our Creator through trust. Actually, faith (which is absolute trust) is both a choice and a gift. Failure to understand that faith is a choice will lead to self-righteousness. But, if we forget that faith is also a gift, we will live in fear; trying to earn God’s blessing instead of joyously accepting His Amazing Grace.
I like what the Older Testament Prophet Joshua wrote in the scriptures,
15 “But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will choose to serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
Absolute trust in the gift of God’s grace is the single most important choice you could ever make. Choose to love God and He chooses to show you His love. And nothing – sickness, sorrow, oppression, failure, hostilities, or even your own death – can take that love away.
And so my fellow liars; let’s all get a grip. “There are none as blind as those who will not see”. The most deluded people on earth are those who choose to ignore what they already know. At worst, lying to ourselves can destroy us. At best, it makes life much more difficult. What other lies do you tell yourself? Think about it.
Oh, and I have one more tall tale to share. Consider this the bonus lie:
Lie #4: “I’m just fine. I don’t need to believe in a God. I know what is best for me.”
Sure you do, my friend. Sure you do. Just keep telling yourself that and let me know how well it’s working. I’d like to tell you that you might be right, but I’m trying to cut back on the lies.
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie ®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656