“Liar, liar, pants on fire” is a commonly used phrase directed toward someone who is believed to be lying. The saying is part of a longer children’s rhyme that’s been around since around 1841 in some form. There are different opinions about what follows the “liar, liar” line, such as the Pinocchio imagery, “nose as long as a telephone wire” and “hang your pants on a telephone wire…while you’re there, cut your hair/ and stick it down your underwear.”
As early as the 1400’s, people would call out an untruthful person with the phrase, “liar, liar – lick dish,” the idea behind it being the person would lie as quickly as a dog would lick a dish.
The “liar, liar” phrase gained steam and staying power because generally speaking people do not like to be lied to. The ironic part of not being lied to is that even people who don’t like to be lied to tend to lie – because everyone lies. Recent studies show the average person will tell over 100,000 lies in his or her life time.
Another irony in the “liar, liar” phrase is that not everything everyone says that turns out to be untrue is actually a lie. Sometimes people say things they mean when they say them but circumstances change and what was said that was meant turns out to be untrue.
This happened to a guy named Peter, who was one of Jesus’ early and closest followers. What he said (and meant) and then what happened when what he said turned out to be untrue was the focus of part 2 (Emphatic Declaration) of CCC’s Without a Doubt series.
Check out this part of Peter’s story in Mark 14:27-31, 66-72 and next step/consider the following questions about how what we say can be untrue but not really a lie.
- Would you describe yourself as an average person? Why or why not?
- Would you still describe yourself as an average person based on the stat that the average person lies 100,000 times in his or her life? Why or why not?
- Have you ever declared something emphatically which later changed based on circumstances?
- Why do you think Peter was so emphatic in his declaration he would never deny Jesus?
- How do you think you would have felt if you were Peter when Jesus predicted the 3 denials?
- Why do you think Peter increased the intensity of his emphatic declaration?
- Why was Peter not with Jesus after he was arrested?
- Why do you think Peter denied knowing Jesus?
- How might Peter have benefited from learning to “never say never”?
- Do you think Peter meant it when he said he would never deny Jesus? Why or why not?
- What role might doubt have played in Peter denying Jesus?
- In what ways have you learned to “never say never” about emphatic declarations – about God and life?
- What role does doubt play in your relationship with God?
- What next steps will you take for doubt to take you to a stronger confidence in what you believe?
We can genuinely believe what we say when we say it, but then circumstances can change rendering what we said and meant untrue (which is why we are encouraged to “never say never”). When circumstances change, doubt can creep in. And when doubt creeps in, we are left with a choice – we can either allow doubt to weaken or strengthen what we believe. Where does doubt take you?
Today is Monday – make it a day you say what you mean and mean what you say and then stay faithful 100% (a take from Horton the elephant) no matter the circumstances.