TRUTH AND LIES
By Rev. Dr. Teresa Allissa Citro
“So I am writing to you not because you don’t know the truth but because you know the difference between truth and lies.” -1 John 2:21
Last week, I was out with my kids. Justin loves to take me on sunset rides. It’s one of my favorite things to do. My escape from everything. These are golden opportunity moments because I get to hear what my kids are thinking and feeling.
Imagine my surprise when I heard my daughter say, “Mom, I can’t take it anymore. I have to confess. Justin, it’s time we tell mom.” People, it was a good thing I wasn’t driving because you would have heard screeching car tires coming to a complete stop. I was drinking my Perrier water, I think the bubbles almost choked me as I screamed, “Oh my God!!! What have you done?”
My son had that poker face, avoiding eye contact, while my daughter had that nervous laughter. I, on the other hand, was screaming, “What? What is it?” My eyes were as green as they could get waiting for her confession. I wouldn’t want my blood pressure taken at that moment. Get this full picture? Then my daughter said, “Mom, I’m so sorry for telling you a half-truth. Technically, (the lawyer in her was coming out) we didn’t lie per se. We just didn’t tell you the whole truth. You know when you were in Europe? We did NOT eat healthy like we had promised.”
I was on the verge of hyperventilating, so hearing that they were talking about not eating healthy was a huge sigh of relief. She went on to defend her and her brother, who was silent as a mouse. Still not making eye contact. “Mom, it’s not our fault. You said, “Justin and Ellianna, while I’m gone, you are to eat four vegetables and four fruits a day, take your vitamins, and make sure you get 8 hours of sleep. And do your homework.” We did as you said."
"Every day Nanna made the same mixed bag of vegetables. Corn, peas, carrots, and string beans. So we made sure we ate the four. Then we ate bananas, pears, apples, strawberries, cantaloupe, and melon. Nanna made it into a fruit salad. So, technically, we ate more than the required vegetables and fruit. Cause I ate tomato and that’s a fruit. Justin ate a cucumber. So we did do what you asked. We even ate more. But then we ate store-bought pizza for two weeks. Pizza has cheese and tomatoes, and that’s important. Oh, we ate cake, cookies, ice cream, and chocolate every single day, and Mom, we drank SODA. Justin, I don’t know about you, but I just can’t live with this guilt any longer. Mom, we are sorry.”
People, I broke out laughing hysterically. I think I laughed for a straight 15 minutes. I couldn’t stop laughing. The two of them sat there without making a sound. Finally, I was able to catch my breath. I wasn’t going to punish them because they had carried this terrible guilt for FIVE YEARS. But, I took the opportunity to be all Rev. Mom. I was overjoyed because God gave them such a sensitive spirit to know wrong from right. I was excited that they were stricken with guilt. I was praising God that my children had listened to all the teachings I work so hard at. I was in tears knowing that their consciences were so sensitive to God. I couldn’t have been more grateful.
I couldn’t help but be reminded of the lies of Joseph’s brothers. They had done the unthinkable. For years, they carried that terrible weight. They couldn’t live with themselves any longer with the heavy guilt of telling their father, Jacob, the lie that his son Joseph was dead when they had actually sold him. Now we hear from Joseph's brother, Judah, “For how can I return to my father if the boy is not with me? I couldn’t bear to see the anguish this would cause my father!”
Judah finally confessed without even knowing that he was talking to his brother Joseph. This is what guilt does. It makes you a slave to the sin you committed. It’s that simple. You see, we have something called a conscience. God placed it there. It’s part of you and me. Our conscience is never shut off, it’s there all the time. Except people tune it out. There’s a difference between tune it out and shut it off. You and I don’t have the power to shut it off. We have the power to ignore it. You could look at the conscience as a warning system that’s never shut off. We are constantly evaluating right from wrong. We see it at work when we are contemplating doing something wrong or experiencing it, and getting caught in the very act. It’s at these places that we begin to judge ourselves, or make excuses for allowing ourselves to sin.
Joseph’s brothers had enough. Judah, the very one who seemed to be heartless, is now confessing. Time caught up with him. Please listen. It was 22 years before the confession of Judah. It was 5 years before my kids told me of their eating habits for the almost 3 weeks I was in Europe. The point is, their consciences, thank God, were bothering them. It doesn’t matter how small or how big the sin is. The conscience makes no distinguishing. Wrong is wrong and right is right.
This verse is crystal clear. “So I am writing to you not because you don’t know the truth but because you know the difference between truth and lies,” 1 John 2:21. The Word of God is saying: "I’m not writing this because you don’t know what’s right. I know you know what’s right because I put a moral compass inside of you when you were created. You are preprogrammed to know what’s right. I took care of this for you."
He is reminding us, “You know the difference between truth and lies.” In other words, you have no excuse whatsoever to not differentiate between what is truth and what is lies. If you lie, it’s not because you didn’t know. It’s because you chose to do so. Let’s live lives of truthfulness. It’s a so much better life. Lies destroy destinies. Be better. Live lives of integrity and character.
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