It has been many years now since I saw it, but I always clearly remember that scene in an American movie, which is etched in my memory, where the leading character is a married journalist who aspires to become a great, well-known writer but, while making his—so far unsuccessful—attempts, must live off his wife’s salary, because as a journalist he does not manage to get by. At a given moment, as he is typewriting the plot of a new novel he is drafting, his wife sees him devoted to his aspiration and with great realism asks him, “Who do you think you are deceiving?” Such a straightforward, accusing question, puzzles the journalist, who does not know what to reply to his wife, and goes on with his literary chore at the typewriter as the only choice he can think of at the time.
Who do you think you are deceiving? Here is the great question we human beings should ask ourselves, under the various circumstances we go through during our lives, because we often—or rather, it could be argued, usually—tend to try to deceive someone, God, other people, even ourselves.
We try to deceive God whenever we experience the little faith we have in Him, as we wish or see fit, and we expect Him to be contented or satisfied with our attitude, because He has no alternative but to surrender and accept it. This is what is often known as à la carte religion, characterized by restricting God’s action in our lives, and even getting as far as conforming our miseries, failures, hypocrisy and immoralities in general to a weak and ineffective faith, which has no impact in our lives rather than as we pray under the hardships caused by our problems and difficulties, particularly at the most painful times when suffering torments us because of our fears of what may happen, or is actually happening, to us.
We try to deceive others whenever we seek to use them to our advantage or to influence them with lies according to what we want them to think, or we are not honest and noble with them by seeking to gain some benefit through hypocrisy and flattery or by telling them what they like to hear in order to get in their good books. Whenever we use tricks to make them fall into the trap of our desires, so that we can obtain the benefits we want, whether professional, political, social, financial, etc. in nature, such as Dan Brown’s novels (The Da Vinci Code) or Alejandro Amenábar’s movies (Agora), works so full of falsehoods—and so many other examples which might be mentioned.
We try to deceive ourselves—the worst deceit of all—whenever we choose evil, temptation, enjoyment of a fleeting pleasure or good, causing offense to God or harm to other people, while we quiet our conscience and justify ourselves on false grounds. Whenever we covet something beyond our reach and we strive to get it in spite of evidence to the contrary. Unfortunately, we human beings deceive ourselves too often, thereby making the Devil greatly pleased. Therefore, the Holy Scriptures read that God cannot be deceived or deceive us.
To avoid this threefold deceit constantly threatening all of us throughout our lives, we should set it as our goal to turn to God continuously so that He may help us achieve this, and obey Him and those who represent Him or speak in His name in everything, in any major matters or decisions we make and which involve faith, doctrine and morals. If we fail to do so and choose to live our way, just as we please or wish, we will often fall into one of those kinds of deceit or into the three of them at once, just like the journalist in the movie.