“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!” Sir Walter Scott said it well, and I couldn’t say it any better myself. A woman visited a butcher shop one day to purchase a chicken for her family. Due to a meat shortage, the butcher only had one chicken left. He pulled it from the freezer chest and weighed it on a kitchen scale. The woman didn’t want the bird, and asked to see a larger chicken. In a dilemma, the butcher put the chicken back in the freezer chest and pretended to fumble around for another one. Then he pulled out the same chicken, weighed it again, and said, “This one is an ounce bigger.”

The woman couldn’t be fooled. Seeing through the butcher’s deception, she said, “Okay, I’ll take them both.” Whether we do it in an effort to save face from embarrassment, make a story sound more exciting, or appear more intelligent and sophisticated than we really are, lying always creates more problems than it solves. Even if we are able to deceive others with our words, motives, or actions, we can never fool God. He knows the truth, and He knows how and when to bring it to light.

Most of us know we cannot fool God, but we still try to deceive people. We use flattery and a smile to hide the jealousy and envy in our hearts. We take advantage of others’ kindness or sensibilities to use them for our purposes. A bright smile covers our pain. Partial truths burst from our lips like an instant, inflatable, emergency life raft. Like masks, our actions often hide the motives of our hearts. God sees through all of this. The truth will eventually come out, so let’s learn to keep it real — before God and others.

Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.