Honesty leads to a simple life of greater openness and trust.
1. It’s easy to have trouble with the truth.
Dishonesty promises to benefit us. We struggle against many kinds of dishonesty:
Changing definitions (it depends what the definition of “is” is.)
Fudging on expense accounts.
Deflecting blame (Adam in the garden).
Blurring the truth of Scripture.
The facts are the more trouble we have with the truth, the more trouble we have. Honesty simplifies our lives.
2. We are called by Wisdom to simply be honest.
Honesty lasts. A lie may bring momentary benefit. Others think better of you. You escape trouble. Its benefits are fleeting, because truth rises to the surface and exposes lies. Then trust evaporates, reputations are lost, and our impact turns negative.
3. Christ is our example of honesty.
Because Jesus was honest in His character, He had the courage to speak the truth. Not all of these things were easy, happy, or popular.
4. Christ is the message of our honesty.
When we are honest, we simplify our lives and we clarify our message.
Dishonesty clouds our message. It convolutes it to the point that we really have nothing of Christ to offer if we’re not honest.
*It shows a commitment to grow (apply your heart to what I teach).
*It displays a trust in the Lord (we leave the outcome of honesty in His hands).
*It readies us to give an answer to those who need to hear the truth.
Q1:: Is there such a thing as a righteous lie? For example: the gestapo asks “Are there any jews hidden in your house?”
A:: There are times in history when these kinds of things have been undertaken by people that God speaks well of… Rahab, in Joshua 2, comes to mind. She lied and hid the spies of Israel. And this is declared as a great act of faith. In recent years the great pastor and theologian, Deitrich Bonhoeffer was part of a conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler. These were not lies for personal benefit but for the protection of people that God cares about. Which is the greater injustice? There may be times when a lie is used to bring about a greater good. But those are few and far between. And most of the dishonesty of our world has nothing to do with righteousness or justice.
Q2:: If we are caught in a pattern of lying, what steps should we take to begin a life of honesty?
A:: This is a great question. A lying pattern can develop and then breaking it is a real challenge. Here are some ideas that I think are rooted in Scripture.
Let God help you identify your pattern. When do you lie? Why do you lie? How is it hurting the impact you could be having in other’s lives?
Find someone you trust and be honest with them about your pattern. Bring it to light. James 5:16 says to confess your sins to one another… so you may be healed. Sin has power in the dark.
Consider who else you need to confess to and what “restitution” you may need to make for your lies. Who has been hurt? Talk to them. If it is possible, do what you must to make things right! This leads to ultimate reconciliation. And it deters us from walking down that path again. (see 2 Corinthians 7:10-11).
Q3:: What about placebos?
A:: Now, that’s an interesting question. A placebo is something we do to “trick” the brain. I’m not really sure how to answer that. I think the ultimate goal would be to help lead someone to be able to handle the truth and find strength and healing in that. On the other hand, if a sugar pill makes someone feel better, then the sugar pill makes them feel better. Is that a lie? Maybe not if it makes them feel better.
Q4:: What if ur boss asks u to bend the rules, and it is for the benefit of a homeless associate? I am to respect the direction of my superior, but what about the direction given from corporate?
A:: Without answering directly because I don’t know the situation let me address a couple of principles that come to my mind as I read the question. I apologize if I’m reading into it.
Are there other ways to help the associate? Sometimes a lie, or bending of the rules, seems like a quick fix. Is there a better long-term solution that we’re not considering?
We are to respect our superiors, but not necessarily follow their direction. If someone is urging us to go against our conscience, we have to stand on the conviction of the Spirit and trust in Him for the outcome. When two authorities conflict, prayerfully consider to which one you are more responsible. Also, trust God to direct your conscience. Be open and honest with both authorities. Trust me, I got fired for being honest like this! But it was the best thing I did. God used it to direct me into a church ministry.
Q5: Do you find some ONE person to be honest with or do you open up to everybody? Is one person good enough or do you tell most people example tell the pastor or talk to all church people?
A:: Start with finding one person to be honest with. If it affects others, or is a bigger issue or pattern, you may want to talk to the pastor or someone in authority in the church. The goal is to resolve issues. And sometimes the right people need to know. But if these are personal issues of honesty, start with one and as you experience the joy and simplicity of being honest, you will learn to be more open and honest with others.
Q6:: What do I do when in told in confidence something that someone struggles with which leads them to dishonesty and am then asked by a third party what is going on? How do I keep confidence without becomeing party to the lie?
A:: The goal for someone in this situation is, don’t allow yourself to be in the middle. If a friend is coming and they’ve been dishonest with someone else, you have to urge them to go to that person and be honest. If you have to, you can offer to go with them. If the other person comes to you and wants to know what’s going on, you can simply say, “it’s not my place to be in the middle of this, you need to go talk to him/her and don’t drop it until you know they’ve been honest with you.” Be sure to let the other person know that will be your advice.
There are a few instances where this may not be advisable. First, if someone is harming themselves or another, find someone in authority to tell. Second, if someone is doing harm to the Body of Christ, you may need to push them to make it right. I’ve had to tell someone, “you have a week to have that conversation, or I will have to.” This lets them know this is serious business and they can’t control you with the promise of confidentiality.