Spiritual Body Language

“What Every BODY Is Saying” is a book about body language written by Joe Navarro, a former FBI agent and psychologist.  He also wrote the FBI policy on how to use body language tips when determining deception, so he knows a lot about the topic. The book is fascinating on a number of levels and the lessons are told through interesting stories and tips that are useful for every day life. At one point the author asks the reader to consider what the most “honest” part of the body is for interpreting nonverbal cues. When I read this, my first thought was that it had to be the face. But he said the face is definitely NOT the most reliable because we have been raised from childhood to lie with our facial expressions. We are taught to smile and act happy even when we have other feelings. To display a look of disgust when eating aunt Matilda’s Brussels sprouts would be rude.

But even though we are good at trying to deceive others with our body language, there will always be other “tells” that reveal what we are actually feeling. It might be our feet or hands.  (By the way, according to Navarro the feet are the most truthful body part). In the book, the author shows how he used body language as an FBI agent in questioning criminal suspects, solving crimes, and working to capture terrorists. Repeatedly he mentioned the importance of “congruency.” The various aspects of the human body are like an orchestra. When they are all playing the same music we can rely on the message.  But if we are attempting to hide something, the different sections of the orchestra end up on different sheets of music.   And when this happens, frequently the body will tell the truth when the lips are lying. He suggests that if the mouth is saying one thing and the body language is saying something else, then trust the body language. In order to do his job he had to look past what the people were telling him to see the truth written in gestures and actions.

This illustrates something that the apostle Paul tells us about a kind of "spiritual body language." There are times when people make professions- especially about their faith in Jesus- but they are not telling the truth.  How can we know the difference? In Titus 1:16 Paul writes about people making these kinds of false claims. He says, “they profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.”  Isn’t it interesting that the life can deny what is pouring out of the mouth. If someone’s lips say that they follow Jesus, but their life denies it, then trust what their life is saying.  Our lives have a voice and speak a message. And that message is more reliable than the words that come from our lips.