Saturday, August 18, 2012

Should A Church Be Good At Spotting Liars?

Tim Challies linked to an article a few days ago from Forbes.  The article is a summary/book review of Spy the Lie, a book from former CIA officers that teach the reader how to detect deception. 

As I read through this very helpful article I began thinking about how helpful such a book would be for a pastor or other church leaders.  Isn’t it true that “love believes all things”?  Isn’t it the Christian posture to hope and believe in people?  Is it really helpful to try to spot liars?  Or is it somehow sub-Christian?

I’m left wanting to ask “would Jesus buy a book on spotting liars” and then I realize that he wouldn’t need one because he knew what was in the heart of man.  So, what did that information do for him? 

What Did Jesus Do?

Consider the woman at the well.  Imagine that she was in your office and requesting a little help, maybe for some living water or something.  You tell her to have her husband come by with her and you guys can all have a chat.  She says, “I have no husband”.  Which, oddly enough, is one of the tells Spy the Lie.

If we aren’t good at spotting lies (even little white and uncomfortable lies) what we would do is simply proceed in helping the lady.  That’s all well and good and it’s great to be generous as a church.  But sometimes there are deeper issues that need to be addressed before true healing and help can actually take place. 

Furthermore, for every buck you spend on this lady that is one dollar that you cannot use to help somebody that is not feeding you full of bull.  I’ve had the painful experience of helping a woman out that was obviously scamming us.  She drained our benevolence account.  Then another lady called about an hour later with a legitimate need.  We were no longer positioned to provide assistance.  Had I been more thorough and better at detecting lies then we would have still had the resources. 

Jesus as we see in John 4 is able to see through the woman’s deceptive answer.  He plows right through ever facade that she puts up and gets to the deeper need in her life.  The story ends with her astonished that he was able to utterly expose her masquerade and that he must indeed be a prophet—maybe even the Christ. 

Should a church be good in spotting liars? 

If that means being tight-fisted and unbelieving and not having hope then no, it may be better to just be gullible and ignorant of people’s lies.  But if it means that seeing through lies may actually be the means to truly helping people, then by all means get a book like this and learn how to spot lies.  The very mask that the single mother in your office does not want you to uncover may be the very thing that is required for her substantial healing.

The goal of this post isn’t to get you to buy a book—but if you do think that a book on detecting lies may be helpful I think Spy the Lie looks helpful.


  1. Everyone who is breathing is a liar.

    Jesus said so himself.

    "All men (people) are liars." should be fairly easy to spot them :D.

  2. I appreciate that, Mike.

    (and I'm not lying...)



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