It was on a Tuesday morning, in the orientation class at seminary, the vice chancellor was teaching about honesty, one of the values that are hardly put to practice by Christians and non Christians. As I was seated there listening, he made a point that really struck me, which was both an eye opener and threatening. He said, “The reason we fail to be honest is because we fear something else rather than God”. Immediately I started examining myself, and all I could do is agree. Yes, it is very true. Every time I was dishonest, it was because of the fear of man – thinking about what people might think of me- and fear of punishment. The question is: whom should we fear? For sure many of us Christians will say God. My hope and prayer is that this article will call us to examine our conducts and live authentic Christian lives before God and man.
The definition of honesty
Dictionary.com defined honesty as “the quality or fact of being truthful, sincere or frank”; honesty is also described as “freedom from deceit or fraud”. Merriam Webster.com defines it as “a refusal to lie, steal or deceive on any way”. These are some very good definitions that help us understand the meaning of honesty. I do agree with the above definitions in some aspects. Remember, we are created by God in His image (Gen. 1:27) to be in fellowship with him and others; thus,honesty should be in relation to God and to our fellow men. So, for the sake of this article, I define honesty as being committed to living an authentic life by being transparent before God and man.
The opposite of honesty is dishonesty– hiding the truth. Living a sinful lifestyle leads to dishonesty. Dishonesty is the essence of who Satan is; in him there is no truth; when he lies, he speaks of his own character; dishonesty is a mark of Satan’s followers, from the beginning he is a deceiver (John 8:44, Gen 3:1-3).
The cause of dishonesty: fear of men and punishment
Now take a minute and reflect with me here! When you were dishonest, how was your walk with the Lord; and what was the reason behind that act? Usually the cause of dishonesty is the fear of men and the fear of punishment. Fear of men is being concerned with what people will think of you or do to you, rather than being concerned with what God has to say about it or do to you because of your action; fear of men causes people to please others at any cost; this often leads to disobeying God. The fear of men and punishment drives you to the point where you are willing lie, and be deceitful at any cost, as long as you get away with it. But is this really how a Christian ought to live? Should we fear men rather than God? Of course not; we Christians, people saved by grace are to fear God who destroys both soul and body (Mathew 10:28).
Another cause of dishonesty is the lack of biblical understanding of the character of God. Not understanding the character of God leads to fearing man and his punishment; such fear leads to dishonesty. On another side, understanding who God is should drive us into authentic living. For instance understanding that God is present everywhere seeing everything at all times should cause you and I to do what is right, even when there is no one watching (Psalm 139). I have learned that it is better to be punished by man and to be honoured by God rather than to be punished by God and to be honoured by man.
Danger of dishonesty
When we live a life of dishonesty our lives are marked with shame and falsehood. Dishonest people are not secure, for they live in fear that they will be found out, and they will (Proverbs 10:9); truth is only evident in a life of a person that is honest with God and men.
A biblical example of the danger of dishonesty can be found in Acts chapter 5 verses 1 to 11. Ananias and his wife Sapphira were dishonest to go God and the church. Their dishonesty resulted in their death. Dishonesty is sin, and just like any other sin, it leads to God’s punishment. Another good biblical example of how God judges people for being dishonest is in Joshua 7:1–26. Dishonesty grieves the heart of God, and it is an abomination (Proverbs 12:22), for God hates dishonesty (Proverbs 6:16-19). God cannot be in fellowship with an unreal person, the basis for real fellowship with God and man is to be honest with God and with men. Thus dishonesty also destroys relationships in the church, home, workplace, school, government, community, and in the entire society at large.
Ultimately, dishonesty disgraces God’s name and misrepresents God’s character to the outsider. Believers are called to live holy lives in order to glorify God (Mathew 5: 16; Colossians 3: 5–17; 1 Corinthians 10:31). Being honest is of great necessity, for it displays God’s glory, and inevitably brings God’s favour and mercy to God’s honesty people.
A call for honesty
God, through Christ, has redeemed us (Ephesians 1:7) and brought us into a relationship with Himself; thus, making us a new creation with new desires for Him (2 Corinthians 5:17) and for all godliness.
We are called to display the character of our God, for He is truth. We are called to be truthful in all areas of our lives, in the church, home, marriage, work, business, school, finances and in whatever duty we find ourselves.
Dishonesty is a practice of our old nature; the Bible calls us to put away dishonesty towards each other (Colossians 3:9). We should not lie to one another but be honest; falsehood has to be put away; we are one in Christ, united, and in him there is no falsehood; we should rather speak with truth to our neighbours (Ephesians. 4: 25).
The Lord delights in honesty; He is the truth (John. 14:6; 17:17). When we live honest lives and do everything in an honest way, it pleases the Lord (Proverbs 12:22). Since we Christians are saved and called to live lives that are pleasing to God, the pursuit of honesty in all matters is of great importance (Colossians 1:9-13).
There is a great call for honesty in Christianity, not only because we know that lying is wrong, but also because honesty is the essences of who God is. Honesty is a mark of God’s children and we are His children (John 1:12). We must demonstrate His character in our lives (1 John 3:1–10).
Honesty is possible in the life of a genuine Christian, for we are set free by the truth (John 8:32) and indwelled by the Holy Spirit and bear his fruits including truth (Ephesians 1:13 –14; Galatians 5:22). We must ask God for heaven’s help and commit ourselves in speaking the truth (Proverbs 8:7, 4:23), and hold firm to the truth regardless of the situation. God’s word is the truth (John 17:17); so we must use this truth to examine our attitudes in every situation. By God’s enablement, we must be transparent before Him and before men. Honesty glorifies God; living in truth pleases God.
A Personal prayer for honesty
Oh Lord my God
You know every heart
From thine sight nothing can be hidden
For you are awake day and night
To you alone be honour and Glory
Lord search my heart
And remove the fear of men in me
Fill me with love for thee
Ignite a zeal in thy servant that will never end
I owe all to you oh blessed trinity
Fill my life with truthfulness and honesty
Grant me that holy fear
To thee my father I want to draw near
Forgive me father for the times I was not real
To you I come, for only you can forgive and heal
By grace you have saved me for your glory
To be your son, righteous and holy
Help me to walk in truthfulness
As you increase may I become less
To you be the glory
I don’t know what to say next
In everything oh lord help me to be honest
In Jesus name. Amen
Honesty is essential. My prayer is that we examine our lives as Christians and come to a realisation that yes we have been dishonest with God and people around us, that we will be encourage to cry out to God for forgiveness, and change our ways, to be challenged to live authentically and God glorifying lives. Remember honesty is the essence of who God is, and it is better to be punished by man and to be honoured by God, rather than to be punished by God and to be honoured by men. May God help us to live honest lives for Christ sake! Amen