Masks of Deception: Stop Tricking Your Friends

In last week’s blog post, we talked about the need to stop wearing masks before our own conscience. But of course, we also need to stop wearing masks before other people. After all, we’re not helping them or ourselves when we lie to keep their approval or friendship.

In the end, it’s not us that they’re approving–it’s the fake version of us.

Besides, lying to get man’s approval isn’t a very Christian-like way to live. As the apostle Paul said, “If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10, KJV).

But what are the masks that we wear?

1. The Mask of Normalcy

You may be wondering why this is a good mask. Everyone wants to be special, right? Well, not if they can’t pull it off. Or if they’re hiding some sin that everyone thinks is bad.

But at least they can say it’s “normal” and make it semi-acceptable.

Have you ever heard someone say they only told a “white lie” or that they are “not that bad” or that so-and-so did the same thing? In all these cases, they’re employing the normalcy lie.

It’s an effective mask because you’re not saying that your sins of pride or gossip or anger are good things, but you’re saying they’re not that bad because everyone does them. It’s like a halfway-there acceptance of wrongdoing.

But it’s not far enough. In fact, it’s no closer to repentance than an outright lie would be.

Yes, we admit we’re sinners when wearing this mask, but we’re also comfortable in our sin. Like pigs happy to wallow in mud.

That’s harsh, you say. Yes, and I’m speaking to myself here, too. Because it’s easy to say that we’re not terrible people, but not so easy to say that when we compare ourselves to God’s glorious holiness.

Some of you may think that this isn’t a fair comparison. He’s God and we’re human, after all. But because He’s God, He makes the rules, and his rule is, “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:16).

That means that shoving our flaws behind a mask of normalcy as if that’s just part of the human package won’t do. We’re children of God: we can be so much more than “normal.”

But there’s another mask that’s prevalent in our society.

2. The Mask of Charisma

Have you ever noticed that as long as something is funny, people often disregard the horrible content of the joke? Or that they can get away with several flaws that the rest of us can’t get away with, simply because they make others laugh?

Flaws like: interrupting in class, disobeying authority, sassing people, making fun of the new kid, ostracizing the one who acts “different” from the rest, laziness, and overall irresponsibility?

This is because people with great charisma are often enigmatic, and their speech is persuasive enough to cause others to forget what they were angry with them about and overlook their flaws in favor of the entertainment that they provide.

But God doesn’t approve when we use charisma to hide how much we’re hurting others.

In Proverbs, God says, “As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death, so is the man that deceiveth his neighbor, and saith, Am not I in sport [“in sport” means “joking”]” (Prov. 26:18-19).

Here’s a tip: If the person we’re joking about feels like we’re throwing firebrands and arrows at them, it’s not a joke anymore. If the person we’re joking about is even mildly uncomfortable, it’s not a joke anymore. And if the person is not there but they would feel these things, or we aren’t saying them out of a spirit of playfulness, it’s not a joke anymore.

But just like the mask of normalcy, the mask of charisma doesn’t help you in the long-run. It may fool others, for a time, and maybe for a very long time if they do not reflect on the number of times their charismatic friend has let them down or led them astray.

Either way, it won’t fool God (remember, He sees our hearts) and it certainly won’t encourage the mask-wearer to change his ways.

3. The Mask of Bluntness

Have you ever heard people say “I’m just telling them how it is” or “I only told them the truth”?

Chances are, you’ve heard this a lot. We like to claim we’re telling the truth, as is Biblical, leaving out the part where God says, “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15, emphasis mine).

In other words, speaking the truth with tact.

Yep, the blunt truth (or what we think in our anger is the truth), is an easy mask to slip back into because when we feel that someone has hurt us, we want to return the favor. But when we do this, we’re forgetting something very important:

God forgives us EVERY DAY. And aren’t you thankful God doesn’t return the favor for every time we’ve sinned against him?

Sure, He punishes us, but He gives us less punishment than we deserve, and He does it in love to help us like the Good Father that He is. But the rest of us are His children, and children don’t have the parental right to punish each other.

If they really need to get punished or get a reality check, tell them in love. If they don’t change, leave it to God. He’s their Father–not you.

After all, when we “tell them how it is,” we forget that we are all sinners saved by grace (except the unsaved, who need our prayers because they don’t have the blessing of the Holy Ghost to guide them in the right path).

Sure, people annoy us many times, but Christ tells us in the words of Peter, “Above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8).

And there are several more masks we like to wear.

Come in next week for pt. 3 in The Masks of Deception series.

art by Kenny Luo

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