Imagine what it would be like if we always invariably gave ourselves away through facial expressions and body language when we were trying to conceal the truth.
Consider the curious cases of Fletcher Reede and Cal Lightman – two fictional characters used to explore the subject of lying.
First, Fletcher Reede played by Jim Carrey in the 1997 comedy ‘Liar, Liar’ is a compulsive lawyer – I mean liar. But I repeat myself.
One day Fletcher finds that he is incapable of telling a lie. He can only be perfectly and brutally honest, however hard he might try not to. The results are very amusing as he wants so badly to say something other than precisely what is on his mind, yet cannot because his son made a birthday wish which either God or the universe elected to grant for all our chuckles.
Second, Cal Lightman is Tim Roth’s detective psychologist from the 2009 drama ‘Lie to Me,’ always able to tell when someone is trying to deceive him.
By watching closely for microexpressions on their face and in their body language, Lightman spots little tells which give away his subjects. However they might try to conceal it, “the truth is written on all our faces.”
Hebrews 4:13 says “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
This echoes the psalmist.
Yahweh looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.”
It must be the case then that we are incapable of lying – at least to God. The truth is written on all our hearts, and God knows our hearts as well as the number of hairs on our head.
What is more, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” So we do say what is in our hearts, whether for good or for ill, and the power of life and death is in the tongue. ‘I didn’t mean it’ extends only so far, and the good Lord knows whether we did or did not.
Meanwhile James the half-brother of Jesus tells us that “We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to control his whole body.”
Yet we know that this latter part is not us, and the former is. The task God gives the saint is to “Be holy because I am holy,” and we do not sin that grace might abound all the more. Yet we do stumble in many ways – including in what we say.
Yet I wonder what it would be like if we believed that it was impossible for us to really conceal the truth – not only from God, but also from one another. How would this affect our relationships?
Would we all live the solitary lives of misanthropic hermits – as much to avoid hearing as being heard, as much to avoid seeing as being seen?
Or would we both know and be known and be happy for the whole lot?
Someday the saints will know fully even as they are fully known.
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
For the time being, we bear with one another, and love is patient, and the Lord’s grace is sufficient for us.
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