Are you a liar?
I am not asking if you have ever told a lie. All of us have lied at least once. I am asking if you habitually speak untruths. Is lying your “native language,” as it is Satan’s, according to John 8:44?
I knew a man for whom, as far as I could tell, lying was his first language. He lied even when lying was of no benefit to him. He lied about what he ate for lunch, which shirt he wore the day before, and whether or not he liked cheese pizza. When he was caught out in an absolute lie, he lied about having lied in the first place.
I am not a liar except in one area of my life. I lie to myself. I tell myself on Monday that I will thoroughly clean my stove on Tuesday when I know I probably won’t. I tell myself eating two ice cream sandwiches won’t sabotage my attempt to lose weight when I know it will. Most of us indulge in this kind of dishonesty when we want to do something we shouldn’t do or don’t want to do something we should do.
But my lying to myself does not end there. I habitually speak untruths to myself about myself. According to me, I am stupid, mud-fence ugly, unreliable, and a lousy housekeeper. My hair always looks awful, I can’t cook, I have no self-control, and I can’t compose any piece of writing worth reading.
None of those brutal accusations I throw at myself are true. Occasionally I am unsuccessful in achieving a goal, but by no means am I the total loser I tell myself I am. So why do I habitually speak painful untruths to myself about myself?
Do I think that by telling myself these untruths, I will be motivated to become a higher achiever? Will demeaning myself prevent me from becoming arrogant? Or have I, like the man I mentioned earlier, just become so accustomed to this kind of lying that I continue the habit even when it is of no benefit at all?
In chapter 4 of the book of Ephesians, Paul exhorts Christians to avoid all sinful behaviors: stealing, indulging in feelings of bitterness and wrath, practicing lascivious living, and lying.
Right in the middle of that chapter he writes: But speaking the truth in love, (you) may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.
I routinely speak the truth in love when I am talking to others. Perhaps I should employ that practice when I speak to myself about myself.
My self-conversation then might sound something like this:
Though I am not beautiful or a candidate for induction into MENSA, and my home will never win the Good Housekeeping Award and the meals I cook won’t grace the cover of Taste of Home, and though I will never win a Pulitzer Prize for Literature and will occasionally disappoint myself and other people, I am capable of functioning in a responsible adult manner. I am thankful for the gifts and abilities God has given me, and I will use them to serve others and to bring glory to God.
This is who I am, and only a liar will say otherwise.
In 2018, practice speaking the truth to yourself about yourself. And don’t forget to do it with love.