I tried to get away with telling lies by the time I was 3 years old. What about you? My dear mama tried hard to teach me better. Yours, too, I bet.

But too many folks nowadays didn’t have mothers like that. They grew up believing that the best way to get out of trouble or to get ahead is to deceive. And every generation finds new ways to trick and cheat. Barnum and Bailey and Bernie Madoff stay busy. Always.

I got three calls in an hour yesterday. My cell phone said one came from the tiny Texas town of Ralls. The next one listed Hart as its place of origin. Then it was Sunray. The truth is that those robocalls originated in Thailand or Pakistan. Each call began with a lie.

“Hi, Dad,” a caller greeted me last week. “This is your son David. I’m in jail in Portugal. Can you send me bail money?” Have the crooks tried that one on you?

All of us were astounded at the headlines about college admission schemes. Everybody from the managers of these bamboozles to the parents who footed the bills soon faced criminal charges. So did the fake test takers and the coaches who participated in these charades.

Every day’s headlines report new frauds, whether it’s the Outback manager in Louisiana who embezzled $70,000 to fix up his house, or the disgraced Baltimore mayor who pocketed payoffs supposedly sent to purchase her dubious book series.

The League of Women Voters in my town recently sponsored a program to alert their neighbors to the growing dangers of identity theft. All of us do need to avoid that growing nightmare of deceit, don’t we?

We can’t be too careful anymore. When I got my pocket picked in Paris, I knew the thief got my credit card and I.D. But when my neighbors paid for a tank of gasoline at their usual pump, they had no clue that some scimmer was stealing their credit card data.

The geeks trying to mess with our computers and digital devices usually want to ruin them or hold them hostage, but first they want to plunder them for any profitable information. We can’t be too careful.

In this age of schemes and scams, I share the disgust of the psalmist who told some charlatans, “Lying is a serious art form with you.”

Jesus said that when Satan lies, he is speaking his native tongue. “He is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Any time we decide to deceive and defraud, we have joined him.

 

Gene Shelburne is minister of the Anna Street Church of Christ, 2310 Anna St.. Contact him at GeneShel@aol.com, or get his books and magazines at www.annastreetchurch.org. His column has run on the Faith page for three decades.