(Proverbs 12:22) What ever happened to a man’s word being his bond? Where has sealing a deal with a handshake that was as binding as the most ironclad contract gone? Wedding vows used to be solemn promises and a promise was a promise. Are the days past when people assumed that salesmen, businessmen, preachers and politicians were telling the truth? Surveys have found that most high school students cheat in school work. Sadly, accompanying the results of such surveys are articles in major news magazines that have exposed the amount of cheating that takes place within the top ten percent of high school students. It would seem that many cheated their way to that status. There are even websites that demonstrate the best ways for a student to cheat their way to the top of their high school class.
What should be the Christian’s response to this lack of honesty which plagues our days? That is the question for today’s topic and it is directed specifically to Christians. As much as it would be great if everyone practiced honesty, a really good start toward that would be if all Christians obeyed God’s mandate on honesty. To get started down this path of study, take a moment and do two things. First read three passages from the Bible: Proverbs 12:17, 22, Deuteronomy 25:13-16, and John 16:12-14. Then take some time to evaluate your own level of honesty.
Cheating, dishonesty (lying), the lack of integrity that seem to be plaguing our culture may be the norm for the day but does that justify the activity? Of course most folks would respond with a resounding, “Well that depends.” Do you want to ask, “What do you mean ‘that depends’? Why it’s never right to be less than honest.” If that is your thought than your thought is right on the mark. Listen again to what the writer of Proverbs said about truthfulness, “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.” (Proverbs 12:22). Pretty clear, isn’t it?
What did the writer mean when he wrote that lying was an “abomination”? The word in the original also meant “disgusting.” As well, it was used to describe an idol which was the epitome of lying. Idols offered so much and delivered nothing. Such is the case of lying lips, they promise but do not fulfill. Since God is the source of all that is true, He has little patience with that which is not.
On the flip-side, Proverbs 12:22 reminds the reader that God’s “delight” is the truthful person. Delight describes that which is a pleasure or desire that brings favor, that which is acceptable. So if a believer wants to be pleasing to God, to find His favor, a good starting point is to be honest in what one says.
Honesty is exercised in ways other than just speech. That’s the thrust of Deuteronomy 25:13-16. As the Israelites were preparing to enter the Promised Land, God gave them specific instructions concerning how they were to operate their businesses. Note in this passage that God warned them against using false weights and measures. In other words, the merchant ought to give to the consumer exactly what they are advertising. “You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light. You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. You shall have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure, that your days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD your God is giving you. For all who do such things, all who behave unrighteously, are an abomination to the LORD your God.” (Dt 25:13-16)
How should these verses from Proverbs and Deuteronomy play out in a Christian’s life? Christians should be people whose word can be counted on. If we say we will do something then we should do it. We should be honest with our dealing in the marketplace. It should strike Christians as odd to hear, or use, the old adage: Church is church and business is business. Most folks know what is meant by that saying.
Christian students ought to be at the head of the class when it comes to honesty in their school work. Let your work really be your work whether in a writing assignment or on a test. Is being at the head of the class really something to be proud of knowing that you got there by cheating your way to the top?
Christian parents need to model honesty before their children. These parents should not need to be reminded that little ears are listening and little eyes are watching.
As citizens, Christians must lead the way in “rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Matthew 22:21). April 15th should not be followed by a year fearing an audit.
How can a Christian keep from doing what so many accept as acceptable behavior…as long as I don’t get caught? Jesus gives us the answer in John 16. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” (John 16:12-14). The Holy Spirit will both empower and lead the Christian to be honest.
Why is it important to live lives of honesty? First, Christians are called to be like the Father and He demands truthfulness. Secondly, dishonesty or lying, is a deliberate attempt to mislead. Deception takes all relationships into dangerous territory. Whether it be in marriage, the family, business, the marketplace, or the church dishonesty practiced within them will destroy them. That should be no surprise since Jesus said that Satan was the “father of lies” and his goal is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).
Christian men and women must be people of honesty. It honors God, nurtures the family, builds up the community, and allows you to sleep really well at night. How do you rate yourself in the field of honesty? Be honest.