Living Effectively for Christ Day 8 – Being Honest
“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” (Proverbs 10:9, ESV)
One of the worst feelings we can experience (in my opinion) is being caught in a lie. I’m sure we’ve all been there—I know I have! When I was a freshman in high school, the school put on a students-versus-teachers basketball game. Two of the students executed a really awesome play during the game. During a fast break, one of the students got on the ground on his hands and knees. The other student used him as a stepladder, jumped off his back, and slammed the ball home. The students were spellbound and erupted in cheers! When I got home from school that day, I changed one minor detail in the story. I told my family I was one of those students (of course, the one who pulled off the dunk). My exact phrase was, “And the crowd went wild!” It was such a beautiful lie—until my brother got home from work later that night. He worked at the local grocery store, and one of his coworkers, who was still in high school, told him about the game, the famous play, and the identity of the two students—neither of which was me. Uh oh! With the glee only a brother can have, he came home and exposed my lie. I was caught, and it felt awful!
Living a life of honesty and integrity is crucial for the believer. First of all, it will damage my witness before unbelievers if I’m dishonest. How can I claim to be different in an ungodly world if I don’t live any different? I could be dishonest at work in a number of ways, such as taking credit for work others do while I do nothing. As a business owner, I could rip off customers by overcharging them. I could blame others for my own mistakes to avoid issues. You know what all of that leads to? A horrible reputation, a lack of godliness, and the need to continue walking in “crooked ways” to keep from getting caught. There is a reason why the phrase “a web of lies” exists! Once you’re caught, it can be very difficult to get out.
Honesty and integrity are also important in our relationship with other believers. Some of the reasons are the same as already noted above, of course, but there are others when we consider these relationships. We need to avoid things like flattery and lip service when we deal with fellow Christians. It can be hard sometimes, especially when we are dealing with close friends. We’ve probably all been asked awkward questions we would rather not answer: “Am I a gifted teacher?” “Should I try to date [insert name of person that they honestly have no shot with]?” There are even far less important questions that are equally awkward, such as regarding personal appearance and so on. We need to be honest in these situations, too, even when it’s difficult. If we are truly friends with a fellow Christian, we need to be honest with them in easy times and difficult times. Even if they might not like our answer right now, they will likely see the wisdom of honesty in due time. People should know they can trust us, especially our friends. If they can’t trust us to be honest, what good are we?
Now I’m not talking about being “brutally honest.” I don’t know that there is much good that comes from that for most people. We can be kind while still being honest. Think about the interaction between Jesus and Peter in John 21:15-17. If anyone could have been brutally honest, it would have been Jesus in this moment. But instead, He dealt with Peter in love and kindness. He didn’t avoid the fact that Peter, after promising he would die with Him, denied even knowing Him! But He also didn’t berate Peter in front of his fellow disciples and call him out. Jesus dealt in love and kindness, and restored Peter in his relationship with Himself. Peter doesn’t appear to have ever looked back after this, based on what we read in Scripture. Our interactions with believers (and unbelievers), even confrontational ones, can be handled with honesty, integrity, and kindness.