Deceit can affect your health. Deceit is the deliberate attempt to mislead someone. Hypocrisy is the pretended possession of those qualities that would make others believe in one’s sincerity, goodness, and devotion.
One of the clearest illustrations of deceit was told to me by my friend and mentor Dr. Henry Brandt. I remember him telling me this story and then we included it in one of our books–The Word for the Wise. I think you will enjoy the story of the Stolen Raspberries!
When I was a boy, we lived in the suburbs. A neighbor had a fine raspberry patch. My instructions were to stay out of it unless permission was given by my parents and the people who owned the patch.
One day when there was was no one around, I slipped into the patch and started eating the ripe, juicy raspberries. What a pleasure!
Suddenly, there was a noise behind me. I turned around and was face-to-face with the owner. Instantly, I was a bundle of tensions. My heart pounded wildly, and I began to sweat.
Desperately, I pleaded with the lady not to tell my mother. But she wouldn’t promise. Those berries suddenly felt like a rock in my stomach as I headed away from the scene of the crime. I was even fearful of seeing those raspberries again! For the rest of the day, a nagging question plagued my mind: Had she told my mother? I had a miserable afternoon.
This was a conscious, deliberate choice to do wrong. Now, I was suffering agony because of it. Soon, I heard my mother call:
“Yes, Mom.” Scared to death. Here it comes.
“Henry, I want you to go to the store.”
What a relief! Maybe she didn’t know. But how could I tell? At dinner, I was fidgety and nervous. Finally, my father said:
“What’s wrong with you?”
“Nothing wrong with me, Dad. Nothing at all. Nothing.” I realized I had protested too much. I am going to give myself away if I don’t calm down.
“Then, why don’t you eat?”
I was eating but the food gave me a sick feeling. I glanced nervously back and forth between my father and mother. Finally, she said:
“Henry, there is too something wrong with you.”
“Nothing wrong, mom.” I resisted the temptation to say it again, then got out of there as quickly as possible.
It was a terrible evening. The frightening climax came when Dad called. Usually, when he called me, something was up. Again, there was the same reaction within me–tension, sweating, and a pounding heart.
“It’s bedtime!” was all he said.
Whew! What a relief to disappear into the bedroom. But, it proved to be a most uncomfortable night.
The next day I was playing outside and, to my dismay, here came the lady who owned the raspberry patch. I ducked behind a corner of the house, and spied on her as she approached.
She came closer. Closer. Closer.
Then, she went past the house. And on down the street.
So, it went for days of agonized misery. And I never did find out if she told my parents.
What was wrong with Dr. Brandt? He was the architect of his own misery. His conduct did not fit his words.
Countless stories are heard in the consulting room of people who create similar tensions for themselves because of their own actions. No one knows their secret. But they know. And that’s enough.
When you misrepresent yourself to others–that is, when you lie and deceive others for any reason–you violate a commandment:
Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.
To deceive another is to chip away at your own self-respect, even though you receive praise and good will as a result. You err when your sense of self-respect is based on the spiritual condition of another person. You build your own self-respect when your words, behavior, emotions, and mental activity line up with God’s commandments.
Only you know what goes on underneath your skin. Whether bitterness or joy floods your soul is known only to you. I have spent a lifetime studying people, and am fully convinced that I cannot accurately decide what goes on in someone else’s heart and mind. So, we must all stand accountable to God and let Him show us any deceit that we are hiding. The result? When we confess and repent, He restores with the fruit of His Spirit. What a wonderful feeling to have the forgiveness and cleansing of God!