The Backstabbers

They smile in your face.  All the time they want to take your place.  The backstabbers.  Backstabbers.  Those whose fair presentation masks foul intent.  People who engage in covert warfare against folk who do not realize their foes.  A fortunate few will have little experience with undermining, but most will be ambushed at some time on their journey.  It occurs that deceptive demeanor may arise from varied sources and not always be conscious behavior.  Rather, it may be a sort of double-blind in which innocence is a delusion.

People will betray you on purpose.  Mostly, you will not see it coming.  As the Godfather kept his friends close and his enemies closer, those nearest to you will do great harm precisely because of their proximity.  Make no mistake.  Everyone does not like you, but this will only come to the fore when your interests conflict with theirs.  They will then find it easier to manipulate people or situations than to confront the issues and will, therefore, be able to claim purity since their work was done in secret.

Manipulation is a learned behavior, and none of us are above its use.  An indirect way of getting what you want, we may find it easier to “go around” those with whom we disagree than to negotiate with them.  However, one problem is that gains attained through such practices are held on shifting sands and subject to loss at any time.  Maneuvering people is similar to lying to them in the sense that it becomes an ongoing thing requiring continual deception.  It may seem strange to consider that this can be involuntary.

While it would seem that undercutting someone would be a volitional act (and in many ways this is true), people can get accustomed to using undercover methods to weaken others and, therefore, see their means as necessary to the achieving of their goals.  Jesus instructed us to deal personally and openly with individuals, but we can become convinced that cloaked actions are needed and to be expected.  So it is that the dark way becomes the way we know, and its efficacy the standard by which it is judged.

We fall into bad behaviors.  Unchecked, actions become patterns, and patterns become the furniture of our lives.  They are what we do.  Christians will use devices unworthy of the name when convinced the goal is appropriate.  We become accustomed to our deeds and may, eventually, not recognize as wrong those things understood by others as such.  It’s so easy to hurt other when you can’t feel pain, and we seldom repent of other than felt sins.  Having done evil to people for their own goods, we want to be congratulated for it. 

Scripture encourages us to deal honestly and lovingly even with enemies and to be careful of our motives.  We do not comprehend the depth of depravity and self-deception is common and communal.  Vance Havner said the evil genius of the devil is that he can persuade a person that his weaknesses are strengths.  May we never intentionally harm one another, and may we learn that our careless words can cause defeat and despair.  One day, we will answer for every word, and our darkest thoughts be revealed even to us.


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