The slow, pernicious cancer that destroys everything

"Above all don't lie to yourself.  The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to such a pass that he can not distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others.  And having no respect he ceases to love, and in order to occupy and distract himself without love he gives way to passions and coarse pleasures, and sinks to bestiality in his vices, all from continual lying to other men and to himself." (Fyodor Dostoevsky, from: The Brothers Karamazov, pg 37)

This quote is taken from Fyodor Dostoevsky's masterpiece, The Brothers Karamazov.  In this scene a holy monk named Zossima is reprimanding Fyodor Pavlovitch Karamazov for his habitual lying.  What I find interesting about this quote is the fact that Zossima is not reprimanding Fyodor directly for his immoral living, rather he is addressing the root of all this reckless behavior, his addiction to lying; the sin above all sins which like a cancer can destroy a person's spiritual and psychological well being. 
So what is this cancer that I am speaking about?  It is lying.  As I read this passage I felt internally convicted since I have lied so many times in my life.  Even though most of the lies that I have told were generally small, white lies, the occasional exaggerations. I still regretted that I had lied so much with reckless impunity. Telling white lies is so embedded in my persona that a part of me feels like I will never be able to free myself totally from this destructive tendency.  So why do we lie? Why do I lie?  I don't really know the origin of this tendency, the church teaches that all humans have a tendency towards something called concupiscence, a natural inclination to doing the wrong instead of the right.  St. Paul lamented about his own addiction to sin as he emphatically reflects,

 " I do not understand my own actionsFor I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing that I hate....for I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is in my flesh.  I can will what is right but I can not do it.  For I do not do the good that I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do."  (Romans 7: 15-16, 18-20)

The only way that one can overcome this devastating tendency is by allowing God to pour out his grace. This process of sanctification usually does not occur overnight, it is something that one usually struggles with throughout the duration of one's life. So what are some steps that we can take to rid ourselves of the cancer of lying:

  • First we must acknowledge that we have lied
  • We must ask the Lord for his forgiveness each time that we lie
  • If we lied to someone else we must ask also for their forgiveness
  • We need to ask for the grace to forgive ourselves
  • We need to do a regular examination of conscience in order to become more aware of self destructive tendencies.
  • Go to confession on a monthly basis
  • Pray daily, for the strength to live an authentic, Christ filled life
  • Take on a more public position in your work o ministry.  By doing this you will be forced to live a more upright life.
I know that these steps may not totally eradicate the cancer of lying, but I firmly believe if they are rigorously applied then slowly and precipitously the cancerous roots of lying will be removed.  We must always strive to live in radical honesty and integrity.  We must always remember that we are all ambassadors of Christ, Christ wants us to be great, and greatness begins with the truth.  We can no longer be liars if we are immersed in the everlasting truth of Christ.


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