The Lovely Word Called Honesty
The story has been told of an aging emperor who needed to find someone to replace him. Since he had no near kin, he decided to find a young person from within his kingdom. Many children gathered in. The test was simple. To each, he gave a seed and asked them to return at a certain time to show what they had grown. When the time came, many gathered with beautiful specimens in hand. One by one his subjects passed before him to show him their prize. Finally, a young boy came thru with nothing but a pot of soil. His seed had not sprouted. “Where is your plant?” he asked. He hung his head and replied, “I planted it and cared for it every day, but it did not grow.” The emperor was ecstatic! He had found someone to replace him, for he had boiled every seed!
Why does a story like this strike a nerve? Haven’t we all been on both sides of this subject? We have been in situations where it seemed like honesty was an impossible solution to our problem. Telling the truth seemed to be admitting defeat. And we have watched with interest as other people’s empires have collapsed around them. It makes the headlines in the paper, and the tongues wag. Things were not as they seemed. Dishonesty does not have time on its side.
Ever since the father of lies has been cast to the earth, mankind has been tempted with dishonesty. Indeed, it was a sin committed in the Garden of Eden. Truth, honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness are in short supply in these last times. History books are full of those who did not pass the test.
Gehazi’s, (the servant of the prophet Elisha), first lie turned into a pack of lies. He was able to pull the wool over Naaman’s eyes and get the garments he wanted. But the prophet Elisha had the Lord by his side. Sin does not stand a chance in the presence of the Almighty. Unfortunately for Gehazi, trading his honesty for riches came with a stiff penalty. The dreaded leprosy ate at his body after he had allowed dishonesty to devour his integrity.
Even in the New Testament, God has remained the same. Ananias and Sapphira met an untimely and ungraceful end when they chose to trade their reputation for their honesty. Is there any question how God feels about honesty?
Why is honesty so important? God is a God of Truth. It is one of his attributes. To be godly requires honesty.
It is the first step to salvation. We must admit that we have a need. It takes honesty to confess our sinful condition.
Honesty is a foundation, a key ingredient of success. Many things are built upon honesty, and honesty builds many things. Honesty builds trust and respect, and thereby it builds relationships.
Honesty is easier than lying. A friend of mine was subpoenaed by the court to testify about an incident he had witnessed. “I’m worried about what to say!” he cried. My answer was simple, “Just tell the truth! You have nothing to worry about.”
We’ve all heard the expression, Be sure your sin will find you out. It comes from the book of Numbers. This is the truth with dishonesty, it will be found out, and it has consequences. “Honesty is the best policy.” Yes, honesty in all of life.
It is of utmost importance to tell the truth in the court of law today! Lying in the courts has become such a rampant problem that a word has been coined for it. Perjury: the crime of telling a lie in a court of law after promising to tell the truth. Jesus taught that our yes should mean yes and our no should always mean no. The Christian should be known for his truthfulness to the point that he does not need the oath to be trusted.
We must also be honest with ourselves. "For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him." (Romans 12:3). Do we tell ourself the truth? This is a big deal. This is what keeps us from being deceived! We are so quick to set ourselves up to be the center, and everything revolves around us! The truth is, God is at the center. Think of the solar system as an illustration. We revolve around Him. And while we are revolving around Him, we revolve around others. We (the moon) are revolving around others (the earth) while we are all in the pull of God (the sun).
Do you want to set yourself up for anxiety and stress? Keep telling yourself that everyone else ought to be treating you better. You deserve better than this. Life isn’t fair. And so on… It may be partly true, but the whole truth is that life is far better to us than we deserve. We are blessed! And we ought to be blessing others. May we also be honest and tell our “self” that criticism in my life can be useful and a blessing!
We need to be honest in our treatment of other people. "For there is no respect of persons with God. All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law." (Romans 2:11-12). "For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him. For, “every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:12-13). God shows us honesty by considering sin equal and the opportunity for salvation equal. No amount of good pedigree or wealth can satisfy the cost of sin. Neither is anyone not worth God’s time, no, not the poorest, not the “dumbest.” Race is a hot topic in our world today. As Christians, we need to treat it as God treats it. Every soul is precious in God’s eyes, regardless of what body is housing it! Honesty tells us we are no better and no worse. We must treat all with respect.
We must be honest with our children. Do we tell them the truth, or do we use fear and deceit to control them? When they ask questions do, we tell them the truth? Do we teach them why we do what we do? Is it just because the church says so? Can we take the time to show them the principles given by the Church for why we do this? Here is where you can read the verses, so this is why we do this. Our way is not the only way, but it is a good way to put this principle to practice.
We must be as honest as possible in business. "Providing good things, not only in the sight of God, but also in the sight of all men." (Romans 12:17b). Honesty needs to be the design, not the default. The context of this verse is during a time of mistreatment. Unfair business practices of other individuals do not legitimize dishonesty for us. We must always “plan” to be honest!
The same direction is given in 2 Corinthians 8:21 "Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men." In this verse, it appears to apply more to our possessions or the right way of using property. Do the right thing. "The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." (Psalms 24:1). When it is impressed upon us that what we have is God’s, and when we realize that our time and possessions are on loan to us, it is much easier to be honest in business!
An unbelieving friend left me with this thought one day. “When you die, your integrity is one of the few things that you keep.”
"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth" (3 John 1:4).