Monday, February 17, 2014
Pastorgraphs: “The Truth about Honesty”
February 17, 2014
[Pastorgraphs now online at ChristSD.com]
Pastorgraphs: “The Truth about Honesty”
“The Lord hates cheating
and delights in honesty.
Proud men end in shame,
but the meek become wise.
A good man is guided by his honesty;
the evil man is destroyed by his dishonesty.
Your riches won’t help you on Judgment Day;
only righteousness counts then.
Good people are directed by their honesty;
the wicked shall fall beneath their load of sins.”
If I ask you to define integrity in one word, you most likely will respond with honesty. Honesty is an important part of integrity, maybe the most important. But integrity is more than just being honest.
I knew a woman once who was brutally honest. She was also meaner than a snake. Along with her bluntness, she was selfish, uncaring, arrogant, and very unhappy. She delighted in shocking, hurting or embarrassing people with crude comments that were both honest and cruel.
Honesty is not just about your words. Honesty is also about your actions, motives and habits. You must be honest at every level of your life. Honesty is about your being; who you are at your most personal self.
So what is honesty? Is it achievable? And how do you establish honesty in your life? I offer the following:
Seven Truths about Honesty
1. Be honest with yourself. This is the starting point. You may tend to shade the truth about yourself, especially when it comes to things about which you are uncomfortable, or things that will require you to alter habits, relationships or lifestyle. When you are less than honest with yourself, you are lying to everyone else. If being honest with yourself gets in the way of something you want, then the TRUTH is: you are not being HONEST. There is something liberating and empowering when you get honest with you! As Zig Ziglar said, “You will make a lousy anybody else, but you will be the best ‘you’ in existence.” You will never reach honesty with others and with God until you are first honest with yourself.
2. Be honest with your relationships. (friends, family, and even enemies). You may often hide the truth about yourself so you will fit in or win the approval of others. This leads to all kinds of dishonest behavior: such as laughing at offensive jokes; buying clothes, cars or houses that are too expensive, just to impress your “friends”; or compromising your principles so you will not stand out from the crowd. Healthy relationships can only be based on honesty.
3. Be honest with your words. Always speak the truth in love. Here are some guidelines to remember when using words.
a. Words are powerful. God “spoke” the world into existence. Words have power to create or destroy, to bless or curse, to hurt or heal. You should use words sparingly and wisely. Once spoken, you can never recall a word spoken in anger, nor can you stop the damage of a rumor or a lie. “Don’t talk so much. You keep putting your foot in your mouth. Be sensible and turn off the flow!” (Proverbs 10:19 Living Bible)
b. Words are dangerous. The Bible says we will all have to give an account of every idle word we speak. Yikes! Plus, using one word “fool” can get you up close and personal with the fires of hell. (see Matthew 5:22). A friend once told me, “Never pass up a good opportunity to be quiet.” (You have the right to remain silent!) Two ears, one mouth. That should be a clue you should listen twice as much as you speak.
c. Words can bless and curse. The story of Isaac blessing his sons (Jacob and Esau) emphasizes the power of words. Jacob tricked his father into giving him the blessing meant for Esau. Once spoken, the blessing could not be recalled. How many parents have pronounced curses with the words, “You will never amount to anything,” or “I’m sorry you were ever born”. By contrast, how blessed I was to hear my father say, “I might not have a plug nickle, but I have a million dollar family”. And that is how your Heavenly Father feels about you!
4. Be honest with your beliefs. When you are dishonest about what you believe, you fall into pretending to be someone or something you are not. That makes it impossible to achieve wholeness and completeness which are essential for genuine happiness (what Jesus called “blessed” in The Beatitudes). Dr. Suess said, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
5. Be honest with your actions. Honesty is not just about words. Talk is cheap. What matters is how you live and who you are. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life”. His invitation to discipleship is to follow Him in Truth as you daily walk along the Way that leads to Life. So honesty is a virtue, something you do rather than something you think.
6. Be honest in your motives. Honesty gets to the core of your character. Your honesty (or dishonesty) emerges from within. You do what you do because of who you are. Carl Jung, the great psychiatrist, said: “Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.”
7. Be honest with God. This is most important. I am always amused when I hear of people who think they are hiding something from God. Really? The God who knows the number of hairs on your head, who notes the falling of the sparrow, who knew you before you were conceived, who created you in His own image, who loved you so much He sent His only Son to die for your dishonesty, and who promises you an abundant and eternal life if you will only trust in and love Him in return; that same God already knows everything about you. The good, the bad and the ugly. And He loves you anyway! So be honest with Him.
I remember a movie (Peter Sellers, I think) in which he played the role of a simple-minded man who was mistaken for a great thinker. He was given many awards, taken to prestigious banquets, and afforded great honors. Because he said so little, no one discovered the mistaken identity until the end of the movie. Also, when asked questions, he responded in profoundly simple, often one word answers, which the press considered pure nuggets of wisdom. The moral of the story is: “Keep your mouth shut and you might be mistaken for a genius! Open it and you will dispel any doubts.”
Being honest sounds like it is difficult. Actually, with practice, honesty gets easier, and is a whole lot easier than dishonesty. As Mark Twain once said, “If I’m honest, I don’t have to remember anything!” And once others know you to be honest, you will be amazed at how your quality of life improves.
With God’s help, may you find the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Devotedly yours, Bill Jenkins
From the Quote Garden:
“No man has a good enough memory to make a successful liar.”
~ Abraham Lincoln ~
Christ United Methodist Ministry Center
“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue - San Diego, CA 92116 - (619) 284-9205