Hi, everybody! It’s great to be back. Thank you for your patience. My posts won’t be as frequent as I’d rather substitute substance for quantity.
So, three years ago, I began my own spiritual journey by reading a book about spiritual direction. (I had tried reading it years earlier, but it made no sense to me.) The difference, when reading it this time, was that I was in a very special place with God. My mind was open to committing myself to Him through my faith and love. This spiritual direction I assigned myself lasted about three months.
Once I was able to grasp discernment and contemplative prayer, I began studying the eighth commandment. I took a month reflecting on this commandment. The other nine were pretty cut and dry; misinterpreting them, was very difficult to do. (Thou shalt not kill, steal, commit adultery, etc.is about as cut and dry as you can get.) I thought the same about thou shalt not bear false witness. I found that it goes much deeper than that. We know that God is the truth and the word. Everything God has created, by His hand, is good. Who am I to make the decision what person is good or not. If I lie, if I spread rumors, for example, I am hurting the person; or at least their reputation.
There are some obvious attributes associated with this commandment – lying and judging. But I discovered that there was much more to it than that, keeping me from fulfilling my commitment to my Lord and His covenant. Dedication to the truth. I was once told that “If you tell the truth, you’ll never have to remember what you said.” I learned that 30 years ago and it has stayed with me to this day. Unfortunately, I didn’t always follow that advice. As I said before, the truth is God. There is no wiggle room. There is no debate. It is just as God says it is. I keep reminding myself that God knows what’s in my heart…good or bad. Shame on me for ever trying to fool Him.
In John 18:37 Jesus spoke to us about how He was born to bear witness to the truth. Further, in John 8:31 He spoke about following the truth and how it will, not could, but will set me free.
Proverbs 25:18 tells us that A man who bears false witness against his neighbor is like a war club, or a sword, or a sharp arrow. My neighbor, which means every human being in the world, again was created by God. I simply have no right to spread rumors, make things up, or speak untrue about them. In fact, I now follow the old saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all.” And I no longer do.
There were a time and day where, if I came across any dirt about someone, I’d hit the rumor tree. (I should call it the rumor fire as it spreads so quickly.) I’ve been on the receiving end and it’s no fun. I once spent 70 days under water, in a submarine, having many of the crew wanting to beat the daylights out of me for something that I didn’t do. I couldn’t prove it until we came into port. Still, did I learn my lesson? Of course not.
I finally realized that there are no half-truths. If the something isn’t completely true, then it’s false. (Keep your mouth shut Doug.)
To me, there are no little lies. I used to think, “what’s the harm?” It could be quite a bit. Lying to me is to deceive. To deceive is to be sinful. I’ve been in some big trouble, in the past, and lied my way out of it. In my opinion, I wasn’t “manning up.” I was a fake. It is very difficult, at times, to tell the truth. But tell the truth I do. When I go to confession, I make sure that I have asked for forgiveness from the person I lied to before I confess to a priest. Besides, I know part of my penance for absolution will be to fess up to the person anyway, right along with the Lord’s prayer and Hail Marys. So, to the best of my ability, I don’t lie.
The same goes with malicious flattery. It’s a lie if I tell someone that they are capable of something when they obviously aren’t…especially if leads to an act of sin. It could cause harm to their self-worth and, perhaps, put them in a state of dismay or, worse yet, allow them to cause harm to themselves.
How about secrets, I ask myself. There are many valid reasons for not sharing secrets. I have to make that call if my secret is valid or not. I have to use discretion. I have to consider that if I share a secret, would it harm me or the person I share the secret with. We are all entitled to our privacy. So when asked if someone did this or did that my response is “ask them, not me.” About me? I answer by saying, “This is a private matter so I will not share it with you.” However, keeping a secret about a crime committed, for example, is sinful. If I know something that would cause harm to someone else, I have the responsibility to inform the authorities.
There is so much more covered by this commandment and I suppose I could write about this for a very long time. These form the fundamental base on how I treat others, remembering that they are they are all created by the same God that created me. How do I do this? Prayer!! Always prayer.
God Bless and Peace