A teaching of jesus h. christ in the sermon on the mount; it suggests that we are able to distinguish between false and genuine prophets by the things they do and say. In the same passage, Jesus calls false prophets wolves in sheep's clothing.

It's hard being human
There is inherently much conflict involved in being part of a group, a family, a society. The conflict often arises from not understanding the words of others. This may be a simple failure to comprehend information relayed or it may have a darker root. Sometimes we are purposefully misled or lied to by others.

Liar, Liar!
Being misled or lied to is common to all of us. I know of no one who has never been the recipient of lies, deception, or being misled. It may be as simple as misleading someone to set them up as the butt of a practical joke or as malevolent as leading someone into a deadly encounter for revenge, profit, or some other evil motive. The experience is universal to all members of the family of man.

The most common way that people are misled and lied to is verbally. We have almost all had the experience of hearing 'through the grapevine' someone else relay false information regarding ourselves. Speech is one of the primary means of relaying information, whether true or false. Writing is simply a visual representation of speech. Often there is not an easy way to test whether the information is trustworthy. Many of our relational difficulties spring from the inability to assess information.

We have also seen many examples of people taken advantage of by those who lie for their own ends. It is common for younger, more inexperienced people to be 'gulled' by more savvy people. It leads to hurt feelings or actual injury to the one accepting the lie as factual, as well as the subject of the lie itself.

Help is on the way!
There is help to be had in the interpretation of information. This help comes from a source thousands of years old. That source is the Bible.

What, say you, how can that dusty old tome be of any help in my situation? Let me share that help with you, then reach your own conclusions.

Become a fruit inspector
Matthew 7:16 (King James Version) King James Version (KJV) Public Domain

Verse 16: Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

We recognize fruit by its characteristics. We can all tell the difference between apples, oranges, and grapes. Each has recognizeable traits, easily observed. This verse tells us that we can recognize the character of others by their fruit. Fruit is their production, that which they bring forth. We therefore can observe what it is that people produce by their deeds. In simple terms, a person's actions speak the truth but words can easily lie.

But isn't all this obvious?
How much pain could have been avoided if everyone were aware of this principle? Think of all the young women who have fallen for the line "Baby, it's ok, you know I love you." The young woman, who wants to hear those words anyway, allows herself to be swayed. The final analysis for that situation is this: which one got what they wanted? The answer is usually the guy gets what he wants and the girl is left feeling betrayed and cheated.

Another example is an abusive relationship where the male physically harms his partner. Afterwards, when she responds by threats of leaving, he comes out with the threadbare line "Honey, I swear, I'll never do that to you again!" Often she will accept that declaration and stay only to find herself in the hospital emergency room when he again attacks her.

Both the above examples have the male as the villian, but men don't have a lock on the lying franchise. Women can be just as destructive in their lies as men. Lying is an equal opportunity activity.

Fools rush in
The question arises "Ok, then tell me just how I can tell if I'm being told the truth?" That is a fair question. The answer is it takes time and observation to make the evaluation. I suggest that is why the technique is so seldom put into play. We often rush to trust others. Usually it works out alright but sometimes it goes horribly astray. The time to learn of problems is before they occur, rather than afterwards. There was a song by Percy Sledge, released in 1968, entitled Take Time to Know Her. It's the story of a young man who fell in love with a young woman, but his mother advised him to 'take time to know her'. He didn't listen and found out later his mother had given him good advice. It takes time to get to know someone.

Balance in all things
I'm not advocating becoming an untrusting person, but I am endorsing the idea of taking your time to get to know someone before entrusting them with your secrets, resources, and a part of your soul. Think of it as teaching someone (or learning) to drive an automobile. You wouldn't put a new driver out on the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago on their first trip. It'd be stupid, not to mention suicidal. You'd start them out slowly, with small tasks and easily mastered situations before you moved along to bigger things. Relationships can be managed the same way. The sheer idea that a relationship can be managed is shocking to some people.

Start out small, entrusting new acquaintances with little things at first. If they handle it well, gradually make the investment of trust larger. Don't rush into things, but take the time to observe and evaluate. If the other person handles the trust poorly, that is the time to open the conversation about being trustworthy. By doing so, you are putting the other person on notice that you saw that they handled your trust poorly. It lets them know that they aren't getting away with something unobserved. Next time they will either do better or just as poorly. If the latter, it may be time to re-evaluate whether the relationship is worth continuing.

So, what are you going to do now?
At that point the ball is in your court. It is up to you to have the courage to confront or withdraw. If you fail to do either but instead accept the poor behavior of the other person, you have only yourself to blame. You may become a rug for the other person to walk on, but you'll be an aware, willing rug.

Man, this is work!
For some people, lying is very easy. Behaving in a responsible, caring manner (if done as part of a deceit) is exhausting. Over time, cracks begin to appear in the glamour portrayed by the lying individual. Only for the individual who is sincere in their actions can it be sustained over the long haul. That's why it is so important to take time. It gives you the opportunity to observe and evaluate and it gives the other person time to betray him or her self to your awareness.

In my opinion the above information should be given repeatedly to every young person as they become able to apply it to their life. It will protect them from being used and abused by unscrupulous persons.

Pretty good advice from a 'dusty old book'.

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