So, the truth is… I wrote a nice long post about lies for you, worked on it for over a week. Decided it wasn’t worth posting. And had to start over. At first I wrote a lot about catching lies regarding faith and lies about people who are flat out trying to portray their lives as something that they are not. But, I realized I was writing from a wound and not a scar and that lying is a touchy subject for most. But hey, hot topics is what I like to write about so of course lying is on the list. Learning how to combat lying in our lives is a difficult process, and extremely difficult to discuss without sounding “holier than thou” or condescending and accusatory. When combating the liars in our lives we first have to realize that we aren’t perfect and that people always have a reason for their lie, whether we feel that reason be justified or not. People lie for many reasons. This could be to impress your peers, fear of rejection, or even because this person is afraid of opening up and being real with you. The reason for the lie isn’t important. But approaching it and building trust in your relationships is.
So how exactly do we approach a liar? Good question.
Well, first and foremost, Jesus’ number one command to us is always to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). We simply need to love them. That’s a huge and weighty command right? Especially since as humans, it is our nature to love ourselves first and to always look out for our own best interest. With that said, when we are approaching the liar in our lives, we need to first try to just love them. We need to take a moment and just try to understand where they are coming from. Why does this person feel the need to lie? Are they in a position where they feel threatened? Are they trying to make an impression? Are they trying to sweep something under the rug and just forget about it? Whatever the reason, that doesn’t really matter. Everyone feels justified in their lies, or they wouldn’t do it. Our job is to try to understand the root of the lie, so we can adequately approach the person about it.
Take the time to actually listen
The next thing you should do is try to simply engage in conversation. I’ve found that hinting around the subject of the lie while talking with the person, and seeing if this person is willing to budge on giving me more details, is usually pretty successful. Often times, the more details a person gives will either cause them to further cover up their lie, or to completely come clean. Sometimes we lie because we feel like others don’t really want to know the deeper details of our truth, so a lie can just be easier. But if we are taking the time to actually listen and care about this person, then the need to lie completely disappears and a well of trust is built.
If the person is lying because they are trying to prove something, create a false image, or because of their own pride, you may want to take a different approach. Some people lie because they feel intimidated by you and by your truth. Sometimes, by being the one to open up about something you may have lied about in the past, or even some struggles you may have faced that others may not have known about can help this person to feel less intimidated and alone in their struggles and to come clean and confess that their lives maybe aren’t as great as they are trying to pretend they are. One of the greatest feelings is being able to just be transparent with someone. To have someone understand what you’re going through and to not have to pretend that everything is all rainbows and sunshines is a total relief.
As far as lies concerning faith, well this is perhaps the most difficult one to confront. People who lie about their faith usually are trying to fit in, or to make a connection with the people that they are lying to. Someone who may be pretending to be a Christian may be doing this just to get involved with a certain mommy group at their child’s school, to relate to a relative, or even to try to salvage a friendship that is drifting apart. This type of lie is hard to confront because we as humans have no right to judge the condition of another person’s heart. Only God has the power and authority to do that. The best way to confront these people is to ask them to talk about their beliefs and to be able to speak truth when you realize their theology does not line up with the Word of God. As long as you are standing firm in your beliefs and your life is reflecting the light of Jesus, these individuals will eventually see truth and will be more intrigued to know more. This type of lie may be the most difficult to confront, but it also may be the closest opportunity you have to shed light on the amazing person that Jesus is.
Forgive Completely, Love Fully, Trust Openly
Confronting the liar in your life is risky business and needs to be approached with caution. No one likes to be called out on their lies, or any of their sins for that matter. So when you do, it should be after a long period of prayer and meditation, and out of a place of complete love. Matthew 18:15-17 tells us “if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile to the tax collector.” What is being said here is that you need to first confront this person on your own. Just the two of you. If that doesn’t work, bring along another person or two with you to help witness to this person to help them to see the lies in which they are living. If this person is still not listening or choosing to admit wrong, you should bring them to the church to discuss the issue. If at this point, this doesn’t work as well, then you have to make the difficult choice to take a step back from the relationship you have with them, and to love them at a distance. Once you have confronted them, you need to forgive them and know that they came from a place of insecurity. The best way to stop a stream of lies is to forgive them completely and to not hold their lie, or history of lies, against your relationship with them.
Grace can be given, and True Forgiveness is possible
I understand that all of this is so much easier said than done. I can most certainly attest to that. Throughout my life, before and even after coming to Christ, I have had to encounter lies and deal with bringing out truth from people who refused to admit it. Truth has always been something that I value so heavily and so highly that any lie has been known to not only completely break my trust, but also have wounded many of my relationships in the past. For me, forgiving the liar is the hardest part. Choosing to trust and forgive that person after they have lied and completely betrayed my trust is difficult, and without the help of Jesus, forgiving people was something I just couldn’t. Many of my family members, if given the chance, would tell you that I have been known to hold grudges and never forget, so learning this has been one of the hardest, but ultimately most restoring journeys for me. Now I actively forgive people when they lie and hurt me, and I choose to trust and love them despite their sinful behavior. I’m not saying I do this perfectly every time, but I am definitely saying that with the help of Jesus, grace can be given, and true forgiveness is possible.
it’s never too late
If you find that you are the person who is lying, for whatever reason, be it that you’re trying to build relationships, mend those that are broken, create an image, or if it is just your pride. I urge you to stop yourself now and repent and confess to those you have lied to. Lying can fill you with conviction, guilt, and cause you to live in a false reality. The guilt that lying causes will eventually cause you to feel consumed with anxiety or depression, and to feel less than the amazing person that God designed you to be. This can keep you from the grace you deserve and from the love of those around you. I assure you that your lie is no better or worse than your neighbors and that deliberately choosing to lie will keep you from a life of true and utter fulfillment. Do the right thing today, because it’s never too late. You have already been forgiven, (Hebrews 10:17). Lying is a bad habit but it can most certainly be broken. Trusting truth to bring you to grace is the biggest hurdle, but once you know and understand that the truth will always set you free, it’s a no brainer. Proverbs 12:19 says “truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment”. Choose forever, not just today.