Let's be honest, most people don't enjoy lying. Dishonesty is not typically a valued characteristic. I have never heard of anyone who wanted to bte known as a liar. Let's be honest about something else, we have all done it, lie that is, an as we did it, we knew it was wrong when we did it. Being consistently honest is a challenge, because lying is so convenient, so undetected, so seemingly rewarding. It can help us advance with minimal effort and escape trouble with a flip of the tongue. Omit information, blur the facts, exaggerate the truth, add some spin and you gain the crowd, protect yourself, please a friend, get what you want. After a while, dishonesty can beome second nature. We still don't like it, so we adjust our consceince to go off only when lying is really harmful to ourselves or someone else. Little lies are unfiltered because they seem harmless. Before long, you are what you hate (because NO ONE: likes to be lied to), but you don't really recognize that.
How does someone be consistently honest? When opportunity to fudge, blur, omit, or spin, knocks, how do you lock the door?
First, To Develop Honesty, Consider Values, Not Just Rules: -- Don't misunderstand, God has rules about dishonesty that He expects us to obey: "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor" (Exo. 20:13); "Do not lie to one another, since you have laid aside the old self with its evil practices" (Col. 3:9). God loathes the liar and the lying tongue and sets such a person in the same category as one who murders (Prov. 6:16-19). However, instead of asking, "What rules did I break with my dishonesty," we should ask, "What kind of person do I want to be?" "When I am dishonest in any way, am I being like Christ? Am I emulating my Heavenly Father?" When we do this, we become more concerned about our character than just following the rules. When we just follow the rules, we may attempt to break them if we don't think we will get caught. When you are concerned about your character, you will want to do right even when no one else is looking.
Second, Recognize That Dishonesty Has Vertical And Not Just Horizontal Effects: -- While we often think that dishonesty only impacts our relationship with others, if they find out, we must realize that it significantly effects our relationship with God. When God gave Israel their law, He connected their treatment of one another to their treatment of Him. "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'When a person sins and acts unfaithfully against the Lord, and deceives his companion...he sins and becomes guilty'" (Lev. 6:1f). God labels dishonesty as an abomination (Prov. 11:1) and clearly states that the liar will have no place in His presence, but is doomed to a life of torment (Rev. 21:8). God doesn't want to be around liars. Only the one who "walks with integrity...and speaks truth in his heart" may dwell in God's tent and on His holy hill (Psa. 15:2). So when we treat one another with dishonesty, God takes it personally.
Third, Realize How Much Of Your Life Honesty Encompasses: -- Honesty includes not padding your work hours, not exaggerating tax deductions, not cheating on a test, speaking up when lies or half-truths are being circulated, giving back excess change and returning borrowed items (Psa. 37:21). Allowing someone to think that something is true, when you are fully aware of its falsity, is dishonest. I was surprised to notice how many times God condemns false weights and measurements in the Old Testament, "Differing weights and differing measures, both of them are abominable to the Lord" (Prov. 20:10). God even conditions Israel's continuation in the promised land to the honesty of weight and measurement standards (Deut. 25:13-16; see also Lev. 19:35,36; Prov. 11:1). This is one reason Jesus was so angry with the merchants in the Temple. It had become a "robber's den" (Matt. 21:13), where exchange rates and standards had been tampered with. Jesus condemned the Pharisees and scribes for assigning conditions to the completion of their vows on the alleged significance of an item (Matt. 23:16-22). They had priced their honesty and put it on sale. Honesty is involved in so many aspects of our lives and we need to own up to that.
Fourth, Think About Who Dishonesty Affects: -- Dishonesty affects more than just those with whom you are dishonest. The ripples spread out much farther. In a 2008 summary by the Josephson Institute, it states that 83% of high school students have lied to their parents about something significant. 64% said they cheated on a test. The irony is that 26% of the students admitted that they lied on the survey. The clincher, 93% of the students said they were satisfied with their personal ethics and character. Frightening, right? Guess who sets the bar for these kids? Grown ups, parents, grandparents, teachers, etc. Your dishonesty has huge fall outs. You want the next generation to be honest? then you be honest before them.
Finally, own up and repent. When you are dishonest, be honest with yourself (1 Jno. 1:9). Set it straight with the person with whom you were dishonest (Deut. 25:13-16). Then reflect on the situation and determine how it will be handled differently next time. Vow to be different and lock the door on dishonesty. Remember, you are not just trying to go by the rules, you are developing a character that will determine your destiny.
By Norm Webb, jr. via The Jackson Drive Reporter, Dec. 13, 2009.
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