An Encouraging Word – Liar, liar, pants on fire!

Father J. Ronald Knott

Father J. Ronald Knott

The truth will set you free. John 8:32

A quote widely attributed to George Orwell says, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
We have all lied and we have all been lied to, whether it was a lie to embellish our social status, to cover up a previous deception or simply to avoid a painful truth.

We have all been witnesses to lying: in relationships, in business transactions, on exams or in sports. In the end, dishonesty inevitably leads to emotional injury and disappointment for all involved.

We tell lies when we are afraid of the truth or find it inconvenient. We often speak of “a web of lies” because every time we lie, the thing we fear grows stronger and more complicated. When we come clean, when the truth comes out, we are actually relieved.

As Janis Joplin used to sing in “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”

Here are five levels of truth telling, according to the blog.

The most basic level of truth telling is the ability to tell ourselves the truth about ourselves. As Shakespeare said, “This above all — to thine own self be true.” Denial is a very powerful force in all of us.

The second level of truth telling is the ability to tell others the truth about themselves. We call it “enabling,” when we help others deny the truth about their self-destructive behaviors. Its motivation is selfish because we fear being rejected.

It is selfish because, ultimately, we would rather see them destroy themselves than deal with their rejection.

The third level of truth telling is the ability to tell the truth about ourselves to another person. Some go on TV programs, such as Jerry Springer or Dr. Phil, to spill their guts.

In the sacrament of reconciliation, priests are able to take these burdens off people who have been carrying them for years.

The fourth level of truth telling is the ability to tell the truth about another person to another person. One of the greatest test of friendship is to be honest enough with another to tell them things they don’t want to hear, but need to hear, as in, “Should I tell my friend that her husband is cheating?”

The last, and highest, level of truth telling is the ability to tell the truth to everyone about everything.

As Christians, we are called to reach for that level, even if we hear those around us whisper, “Let us beset the just one because he is obnoxious to us, he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for our transgressions and charges us with violations of our training.” (Wisdom 2:12)

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Every violation of truth is not only a sort of suicide in the liar, but a stab at the health of human society.”

To read more from Father Knott, visit his blog:

Father J. Ronald Knott

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