“All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him.” (Obadiah 1:7, emphasis mine)
That’s the downside to going with the flow and allowing the pressure of peers to make us into something. I’m not talking about borrowing and copying fashion statements, nor even ideologies. I’m referring to something in between that’s a little harder to pin down.
Who knows what it is inside that tells us that what we sense about others is accurate. (No question-mark, it’s rhetorical.) Where do we get this notion—so prevalent in mixed company—that we know what another is thinking? That others share the same feelings as do we? I’d venture to say that it’s some sort of mental disorder brought about by an inverted empathic response. I’m no shrink, and this is only my opinion, but we as a race have a horrible habit of “projection”. We take what we feel, for good or ill, and “project” said feelings to others. I know I’m guilty of this. There’s an aspect to this though, that I feel is even more underlying than the simple aforementioned definition. Without resorting to either a pure supernatural explanation, or a scientific one, let’s look at this from a simple and logical standpoint. And in light of this most basic of verses:
“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) Yes, there it is again.
How does God love us? Let us count the ways. Because He loves us in whatever sin He finds us. That’s the whole point of His having sent Jesus to die for us. “For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16) Put yourself in the place of the duplicitous person. How would God love you there? Humor me here. For whatever reason, you have decided not to be an honest individual and whether or not you still believe God’s out there (kinda hard when you know you’re a fake and think no one sees it), you don’t really care. Know this though, God loves you whether you’re honest or not. He didn’t let you get away with your games, but saw to it that you were caught. He then forgave you and set you free. This is love. “For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son (and daughter) whom He receiveth.” (Hebrews 12:6) It’s what brings us back from the abyss. And so backing out of this prescribed identity change, think about how you can love someone who you see as dishonest. Does this mean that you let the liar get away with their spurious speciousness? Their duplicity? I would wager to say that it’s the divine perspicacity of the Holy Spirit—His discernment—that shows us when someone’s not being honest with us. And I know I’m going all over here, but follow me.
What is love to the person with no conscience? To the person who betrays the trust of another, whether the victim realizes it or not? To know how to love the liar is to know how God loves you in the same state. And if you can’t relate, try. This is the heart of intercession. To put yourself in the place of the person going to hell—as did Jesus—and cry out to God for mercy on their behalf. This is love. Inwardly. Outwardly? Ignore them (I’m referring to those you don’t know or live with). It’s called positive reinforcement. Enabling someone by letting them lie to you is the opposite of love. If you know someone is lying, then this does not negate the Golden Rule as elucidated by Jesus. It means that you get the opportunity to forgive them and move on. Trust God. Not them.
The people who God was addressing in the verse from Obadiah had wasted their life trusting the untrustworthy. They wanted to believe that Edom would take care of them. Yet nothing was further from the truth. We make the same mistake when we project on to others what we want them to be instead of seeing them as they are through the eyes of love. Yes, this is an overarching statement made after the fact, but think of the individual instances of interaction that multiplied on a large scale that turned into what God described: “the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee…” That wound is what surfaces when a lie erodes and we find that we’ve been trusting where we had no basis to.
Love is wise, love is aware, love forgives. Love calls it like it sees it. It’s what God does for us, and it’s how He asks that we interact with everyone.
And love will heal that wound in you, if you need it.