“The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy” (James 3:17).
True wisdom is evident in a person’s behavior.
What is true wisdom? James answers that question in verse 17 by pointing out the characteristics or qualities of true wisdom. After purity, the next quality is “peaceable,” which means “peace loving” or “peace promoting.” It refers to someone who doesn’t create confusion or disorder. He doesn’t promote himself or compromise truth but makes peace.
The above is the opening paragraph of a devotional that arrived this morning. It struck an immediate "chord" with me, but with a slightly different "note" than it will with most. What it provoked in me was a reflection on lying, i.e., deliberately generating and promoting falsehoods for the purpose of self-justification, a sin that inevitably creates confusion and disorder in the lives of all who come under its influence, directly or indirectly.
Liars begin by lying to themselves. Then to promote and protect their own self-determined image, they lie to others. Then they lie to cover up their lies. This can take on many forms: direct falsehoods, i.e., "I didn't" when, in fact, he or she did; scapegoating others, i.e., deceitfully placing on others the fault for their own sins; twisting truth into self-serving misrepresentations; failure to disclose what should be disclosed in a given situation; promoting half-truths; etc. Anything less than the full truth is a lie.
Lying affects everyone, not just the one producing the misrepresentations or the one whose credibility is being undermined by the lying. Sadly, it most affects those who naively believe the liar and act as though the lie were truth, for in so doing they allow themselves to be influenced to mistrust or disrespect the one(s) misrepresented by the liar and, hence, become part of the problem and incapable of ever providing spiritual help to the deceived sinner, being deceived themselves.
And lying inevitably leads to many other grievous sins, which results in a life that is characterized by ceaseless contention and strife and, ultimately, in grievous separations, separations that begin in spirit (differences in attitudes, opinions on matters of spiritual importance), but ultimately, in many cases, in the actual forsaking of blessed relationships. And all because the liar refuses to face the truth but, rather, is driven to promote him or herself above others.
This is sad. No, it is more than sad. It is tragic. For a pattern of lying is one of the practices that 1 John 3:10 teaches makes one's true spiritual state fully manifest or, as the NASB puts it, "obvious." And what is the end of all those who are proven to be willful, habitual liars? God's word is very clear...soberingly clear:
Revelation 21:8 “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
So what should we do when faced with consistently differing representations of the truth, and the conflicts which result? Well, if we truly desire to honor and exalt the truth ourselves, and enjoy the peace and victory that comes from walking in the truth, and if we truly love the one who appears to be a liar and are concerned for his or her eternal well-being, we will seek out the truth, the full truth. We will gather all the facts, seek out credible witnesses, bring combatants together so that the matter can be judged properly in the light of "day" rather than allowing ourselves to be influenced in the "darkness" of private, self-serving representations. In other words, we will be like the honorable king spoken of in Proverbs who "searches out a matter." And throughout the process of seeking the real truth, we will examine our own hearts to be sure that we are not biased in our evaluations, that we don't give more credence to one than to the other simply because of who the "one" is.
And, finally, and most importantly, we will do this not only for the glory of the Truth's sake, and for the sake of those who are being demeaned by the lies, but for the sake of the liar. Lying is a sin. And, like any sin, it can be forgiven IF the sinner is brought to a true godly sorrow and the repentance that leads to salvation through the work of the Holy Spirit, repentance that is clearly characterized in Scripture:
2 Corinthians 7:9-11 "...you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in this matter." (emphasis added)
But when lying becomes a pattern of the life, when an individual is seemingly incapable of discerning truth from his or her own lies, and when a consistent pattern of contention and division emerges which is designed to exalt oneself by demeaning others, and when that pattern continues even when the lies are exposed by credible witnesses, that life is in serious danger of eternal damnation.
So, what about you? Does any of this fit your situation, your own life perhaps? Beware. God is merciful and longsuffering, but He will not be mocked.
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