Crying “Wolf”

Across the pond, a familiar Aesop tale sends a very succinct message. A little shepherd boy stood guarding sheep at the foothills. It bored him waiting for a wolf to chase the flocks. He thought it more entertaining to watch the villagers run to his imposing calamity as he cried out, “Wolf! Wolf! A wolf is chasing my sheep!” But, there was no wolf, nor an emergency. The second occasion he fooled them, he became known as a nuisance, and the angry men told him “Save your frightened song for when there is really something wrong!” As fate dictated, a wolf later appeared, and when he screamed for help, the village did not pay attention. The moral of the story is no one believes a liar, even when he tells the truth. How often is humanity shrouded in dishonesty? It’s one of life’s most painful experiences.

During the Last Supper, Jesus became troubled and overcome by grief. He announced, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you shall betray me… to the chief priests and elders, in order to be put to death.” The disciples looked at him in great astonishment wondering who would betray Jesus’s loyalty and honor. The Gospel of Mark gives no motive for Judas’s betrayal, only that he committed the disloyalty (he told authorities where Jesus could be found) in exchange for thirty pieces of silver. But when he learned Jesus was to be crucified, he attempted to return the money; the Romans denied the coins and Judas committed suicide by hanging. In this biblical story, Jesus understood Satan overcame Judas. Isn’t this a common trait of evil and unholiness – lying, deception, and betrayal?

John 8:44

“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”

As human beings, we usually want to believe the best in others, but generally, this is not the situation. For liars, it turns into a scary second nature. Their behavior provides comfort and an escape from discomfort and boredom, just as the little boy crying “wolf.” If public figures are caught lying, a scandal erupts, but what if children lie to their parents? Children have a fear of being scolded and punished for their mischiefs. It is easier for them to take refuge in their lies rather than tackling a problem head-on. But, many parents accept their behavior without giving a consequence, and the fibs grow into more significant issues. Then we hear the horror stories of spouses lying to each other too. The innocent person tries to make excuses for the other’s actions, and a dysfunctional whirlwind creates a less-than-honest marriage. All of these incidents boil down to respect.

Oddly enough, these dramatic lessons can be traced all the way back to Jesus’s time. In the restitution of life, there comes a time when we have little choice but to give it to God. Be it a child, spouse, or Judas’s betrayal, stretching the truth will haunt you for the rest of your life. Crying wolf, without due cause, finds you at the mercy of God and the wolves, “for you reap what you sow.”

My dad was a tough, wise man who quoted, “There are no exceptions to experience. You have to go through it to understand.” He’s right! It is awful to be deceived, but we can learn from the mistake and move forward knowing God is in our heart to ease the pain. We need to sharpen our wisdom tactics and pray for those who attempt to cry “Wolf.”

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