Today the value we’re talking about is honesty. The irony of honesty is that all of us make a big deal about it and we want it but really, in practicality, we give it very little value.
It is amazing how many opportunities there are in our day to be dishonest. Every conversation, every phone call, every interaction we have dozens and dozens of opportunities to be dishonest.
“Would you like to enjoy life? Do you want long life and happiness? Then keep from speaking evil and from telling lies.” Psalm 34:12-13 GNT
When you tell a lie, you’ve got to commit to the lie. Then every time the phone rings, every time someone wants to talk you wonder, is this it? Is this when I get caught?
Dr. Leonard Keeler, inventor of the lie detector machine, determined after testing 25,000 individuals that human beings are basically deceptive. At the core of humanity there is dishonesty.
To those of us who have read the Bible, this is no surprise. We know that in the book of Genesis we’re told that dishonesty has plunged this world into the mess that it’s in. The Bible says that the heart is deceitful. We have wickedness that lives within us because of the fall of man, we have a resistance to truth.
Lying is not only in our culture and nature, dishonesty is part of our spiritual structure. It’s much bigger than ourselves. There’s a struggle going on in the cosmos. Call it what you will, it’s light versus darkness, good versus evil, Satan versus God.
We are the object of this spiritual battle. It’s an eternal combat that is bigger than most of us are capable of understanding. Basically it comes down to this: truth versus falsehood. The Bible tells us that God is the father of truth. The Bible also tells us that Satan is the father of falsehood.
“He (Satan) has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44 NLT
The Bible doesn’t sugar coat it, God is on one side and Satan is on the other and we have a choice, do we follow the culture or do we follow the creator? When it comes to the Creator, God says He hates dishonesty. That is not a word used very often in the Bible.
The word “hate” means it’s disgusting, detestable, utterly and thoroughly repulsive. Dishonesty is repulsive to God because He is the Truth and dishonesty is a perversion of His character.
Steps Towards an Honest Life
1. TELL THE TRUTH CONSISTENTLY
Being honest 80% of the time is not integrity. The little boy who cried wolf is a classic story. Eventually you don’t know whether the guy’s telling the truth or not so you don’t believe him at all.
So you must tell the truth consistently, honesty is a lifestyle. Nobody has a good enough memory to be a good liar. If you lie you have to remember what you said to each person. If you tell the truth at all times you don’t have to remember anything because you’ve always told the truth.
“People who can’t be trusted are destroyed by their own dishonesty.” Proverbs 11:3 GNT
Every relationship is built on one word — trust. Truth telling produces trust building. Deception destroys trust. If you are a dishonest person pretty soon you have no relationships because nobody can trust you.
“Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.” Proverbs 12:19 NIV
2. TELL THE TRUTH COMPLETELY
God says lying is an intention to mislead and when you’re just telling a half a truth you’re telling a whole lie. You can lie by falsifying or you can lie by concealing. When we deliberately hold back half the truth, we’re being deceptive.
You can lie without even saying a word. God says, in the end people appreciate honesty. God says tell the truth completely.
“In the end people appreciate frankness more than flattery.” Proverbs 28:23 TLB
It may be unpleasant at first. You have an employee that’s not fulfilling their job and you have to correct them. They may not appreciate it then, but if it helps them build their character it will help in the long run.
“Someone who holds back the truth causes trouble.” Proverbs 10:10 GNT
What kind of trouble can come from concealing the truth? You cause resentment, mistrust, and superficiality. You get into trouble by not saying what you mean and not meaning what you say.
Marriages often get in trouble because during the engagement period, they lie to each other. Not overtly, but lie by not facing the issues. There may be major differences in the relationship that they just ignoring.
Once you understand the motivation behind your lying, then you can deal with the real issue.
Lying is not your real problem. It’s the symptom of a deeper problem.
“The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” – Jesus
Jesus is saying the real problem is not our mouths but our hearts. What’s coming out of our mouths, these lies, are really an indication of what’s inside of us. If we are going to become people of integrity, we have to deal with what motivates us to lie.
Why Do We Lie?
|TYPE OF LIE||MOTIVE|
|The Cruel Lie||Resentment|
|The Cowardly Lie||Fear|
|The Conceited Lie||Insecurity|
|The Calculated Lie||Greed|
|The Convenient Lie||Laziness|
- The cruel lie – This is the kind of lie that is intentionally destructive and malicious. You tell it to get revenge. They’ve hurt you so you’re going to get even. You misrepresent them, this is called slander. Slander means when you make up something about somebody that’s not true with the intentional purpose of damaging their reputation. The Sadducees did this to Jesus. They brought false charges so they could hang Him on the cross. The cruel lie is an intentional mischievous lie. The motive behind that kind of lie – resentment.
- The cowardly lie – This is the kind of lie you tell to escape consequences. You’re trying to protect yourself, prevent pain and avoid punishment. Adam told this kind of lie in the Garden of Eden, when he sinned and blamed his wife. The motive behind that kind of lie – fear.
- The conceited lie – This is when you lie to impress. You’re trying to create an image or cover for a mistake. What may come off as pride and ego is actually a frightened, insecure person. The motive behind that kind of lie – insecurity.
- The calculated lie – This is the kind of lie used to manipulate other people. It is a calculated lie to get what we want or think we need. The motive behind that kind of lie – greed.
- The convenient lie – The convenient lie we tell because it takes effort to tell the truth. To not have to explain yourself or talk more, you shrug off the truth. Sometimes you don’t want to get involved with something or you’re too busy to check the facts so you tell something you haven’t really checked up on. This is often called diplomacy. This is the kind of lie you tell when you don’t want to offend anybody. The motive behind that kind of lie – laziness.
3. TELL THE TRUTH LOVINGLY
Don’t use the truth as a club. Don’t beat people over the head with the truth. People change easier and faster when you speak the truth in a spirit of love. People always perceive truth without love as an attack.
Truth without grace is mean.
It doesn’t matter if it is the truth. People don’t receive it if it is yelled and beaten over them. They resist it, become defensive against it, don’t want to hear it, because they perceive it as an attack.
“We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” Ephesians 4:15 NLT
How do we know if we’re speaking the truth in love? Ask yourself the question, Who am I trying to benefit from this? Think through the motivation. Is it to change them so things are easier on you? Or is it because you care about them and want them to be the best they can be.
“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Ephesians 4:29 NLT
4. TELL THE TRUTH TACTFULLY
Being honest does not mean being brutal. Whenever you have a need to share a tough truth the solution is never deception. The truth sets you free. But, when you speak the truth you must speak it completely, consistently, lovingly, and tactfully.
“Thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword, but wisely spoken words can heal.” Proverbs 12:18 GNT
You have an option with your words: you can either hurt people or you can heal them. Develop people or you can destroy them. Build them up or you can tear them down. Delight or you can devastate. He’s saying your words have tremendous power.
If you think about it, emotional wounds last longer than physical wounds. When you speak the truth in love and with tact you can learn how to make a point without making an enemy.
- Plan your presentation
“The more pleasant his words, the more persuasive he is.” Proverbs 16:21 GNT
Planning your presentation doesn’t mean you come up with come backs to all the potential ways they might respond. Instead, write down the issue and a few points to that issue. That way when things get off track, you can keep the problem on the issue rather than the person or some other thing.
- Choose the right time
“Intelligent people think before they speak.” Proverbs 16:23 GNT
Put your mind in gear before you put your mouth in gear. Timing is everything. Don’t try to start a tough conversation with your spouse late at night when you’re both tired, overwhelmed and frustrated. Plan a time to allow for constructive conversation.
If you’ll do these four things, the Bible says you will begin to be an honest person.Speak the truth completely, consistently, lovingly and tactfully. The beginning of honesty is the confession of dishonesty. If you want to be a person of integrity, first admit to God that you don’t always tell the truth and ask Christ to forgive you.
He will give you the power to change and put a new heart in you. He will begin to replace the deception with truth as you begin to let Christ more and more control your heart. You do that by making a choice and saying, God help me to be more interested in character than in reputation.
If you’re more interested in reputation you’ll lie to build your reputation. Reputation is what other people think you are. Character is what you really are. Character is what lasts for eternity.
God Blesses Honesty
- By guarding me – “He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.” Proverbs 2:7 NLT
That word means to be a bodyguard whose soul purpose is to protect you. If we’re honest, He’ll shield us. It’s not going to be easy but He will be our shield.
- By directing me – “The godly are directed by honesty; the wicked fall beneath their load of sin.” Proverbs 11:5 NLT
When we’re honest we see God’s way. The direction becomes very clear. That’s a reward.
- By sustaining me – “Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed.” Proverbs 12:19 NLT
Honesty will outlast dishonesty. There was a story some years ago about a newlywed couple from Chicago. They had opened their presents before they went on their honeymoon, gathered all their cash, put it in a suitcase, loaded up the car, then left the cash on the top of the car and drove away — $12,000. It fell to the street and was found by an honest man. This man was unemployed. But he returned the money.
The city of Chicago went hysterical about this guy. When the story broke, this guy got job offers from Sony, Hilton, Hyundai, Motorola and more. He was rewarded for his honesty.
In a kind of physical way this is an example of what God does in a spiritual way. God is in the business of rewarding honesty. Some people will receive a reward for their honesty in this life, and sometimes we have to wait for the next life for our reward. But, that reward will be more than we can imagine. Honesty will last for eternity.
Check back on your discussion from last week about fairness and injustice. How has that message and discussion impacted the way you see the world and process injustice in the world?
Hear the Word
We would all probably agree that honesty is the best policy and a value worth building our lives on. But in practice, it’s often a different story. It’s easy to find an excuse not to tell the whole truth. Other times, it can be tempting to intentionally deceive people. But honesty is essential for the success of any relationship.
Dishonesty has many different faces in our life but it has one common result. Dishonesty strangles life out of us. One of the main reasons it runs so fast through our culture is because dishonesty is present in our nature. It’s deeper than just our culture; it’s in our nature. There’s something about you and I that is so warped and flawed that we are drawn to untruth. There is a wickedness about our nature because of the fall and because of sin, but there is also a wonder about our nature. We’re created in the image of God and something deep down within us really wants truth.
“Would you like to enjoy life? Do you want long life and happiness? Then keep from speaking evil and from telling lies.” Psalm 34:12-13 GNT
- Why do you think people tell “white lies” and then expect there to be no consequences?
- When we understand the motivation behind any lie, then we can deal with the real issue. Lying is just a symptom of something else. Here are five types of lies and the motivation for each one:
- The cruel lie is motivated by resentment.
- The cowardly lie is motivated by fear.
- The conceited lie is motivated by insecurity.
- The calculated lie is motivated by greed.
- The convenient lie is motivated by laziness.
What motivation might be most tempting for you? Why?
- What kind of reaction would someone have if you spoke the truth without love? What might the response be from someone if you spoke the truth with love?
- Proverbs 12:18 says, Thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword, but wisely spoken words can heal. Can you think of a time when someone spoke healing words to you? How did that person’s wisdom impact you?
Tell Someone Else
Who do you need to be honest with? Plan your presentation and choose the right time. How will you ask God to help you?
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