“Honesty, is such a lonely word. Everyone is so untrue.” This line from a Billy Joel song pretty much defines our culture. People will lie about anything. We lie about our weight. We lie about our height. We lie about what we did over the weekend. We lie about things we have done in the past. We lie about our employment history. We lie about how good of an athlete or hot of a chick we were in high school. Some people lie so much that their lies seem like the truth to them.
Proverbs 12:17-22 has several parallel lines with wise words about honesty, truth telling, and the use of our lips. The passage contains many strong demands to be a person of honesty and integrity. Why would honesty be so important? Two reasons. First, as followers of Jesus, our honesty is a reflection of the God who saved us. God is truthful and trustworthy. His Word is truth. God has never lied to us, and never will. We can trust His promises and we can follow God’s lead, because God will always be truthful. As Christians, when we are honest people, we reflect the character of God. When people will see that we are truthful when others are not they will want to know why we are different.
Second, being honest benefits you! Sometimes it seems like little lies are the easy way out, or can help you look good. But eventually, those lies will catch up to you, and people will lose all trust in you. Trust is earned, not deserved. A person doesn’t deserve to be trusted because of his or her age, or because of a position he or she believes. Trust is given to a person when that person has proved himself trustworthy and honest. I used to accuse my parents by saying, “You don’t trust me!” What I didn’t realize is that this statement said more about me than it did my parents. This statement should have told me that I hadn’t earned their trust.
We are tempted with dishonesty in many areas. But here are three that I think most people struggle with. First of all, honesty at school, work, and finances. Cheating can be so easy. Some surveys have told us that close to 90% of high school students cheat at school. Those in the work place find it so easy and usually accepted to cut corners on hours worked or to take a few pens home from work. And everybody skims on their income taxes and hides some money from the government, right? But realize, cheating is dishonest.
A second area where lying seems to be the norm is in relationships to those in authority over us. Kids are tempted to lie to their parents. All of us find ways to hide truth or spin things in our favor when we think we might be in trouble, or when the boss is coming down on us. Who hasn’t told a police officer that their speedometer is not working (really, am I the only one? Ooops!)
A third area you might be tempted is little white lies that make you look better to your friends; telling stories in such a way that the events are bigger than they actually were, or making it sound like you were the one who did something cool when it was actually someone else. Eventually, people who embellish stories will prove themselves to be dishonest, and nobody will believe them.
God’s desire is for your life to reflect His Truth, but you can’t do this if you have a problem telling the truth. Does your life reflect the honesty that God desires?