Honesty. We teach it to our children and then often become upset when they do finally open up to tell us the truth about something — all while we ourselves grapple with it on a daily basis.
As believers, we know that the Word of God is very clear, from the Commandments through the book of Proverbs and the letters of Paul, that lying or dishonesty, is an affront to God. God loves truth, and more than this, He cannot lie — He is Truth personified.
Yet, from a young age, we learn that dishonesty can have significant short-term benefits, such as helping us avoid trouble and difficult situations, and getting us what we want. The emphasis here is “short-term”, for as we all find out sooner or later, lying comes at a price and with its own consequences attached.
In the words of Joshua Becker, international best-selling author and proponent of minimalism: “… every time we are not truthful, we create an alternate reality. And subsequently, we are forced to live a life in both worlds: the true one and the one we’ve created. On the other hand, when we choose honesty in all aspects of life including our marriage, our business, and our relationships, we live the same life wherever we are…”
Living an honest life requires intentionality and effort. There’s no getting around it. From time to time, we may even need to remind ourselves of some of the benefits to being honest:
- Since the truth usually comes out, at best, lying may only “buy time” and the fact that we lied as well will likely only make the situation worse
- We feel better about ourselves when we are open and honest with ourselves, with others and with God
- Others will find it easier to trust us, and trust is essential for healthy relationships
- We won’t have to remember and manage a complex web of lies, as one lie inevitably leads to another lie to cover up the original lie, resulting in a vicious cycle
- While lying may be the easy way out, being honest teaches us how to face difficult or uncomfortable situations, thereby resulting in healthy change in our lives resulting in personal growth and development.
Despite the well-known adage: “Honesty is the best policy”, honesty is more than a policy, it is a lifestyle choice and one that needs to not only be cultivated on a daily basis but also practised with thoughtfulness and care.
For being honest is not the same as saying everything we think. Becker explains it this way: There is a time to avoid conflict, a time to address conflict and a time to create conflict.
Honesty is also a powerful tool that can be used to encourage or to criticise, to build others up or to tear them down.
Fortunately, we are not alone in living an honest life. The Lord, our God has given us the Spirit of Truth who will guide us in all truth, and give us wisdom when we need it.