10 March, 2016 40 days of change-Lent, 2016
Honest – Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off the old self with its practices. Colossians 3:9
If you Google integrity the most common characteristic used to explain integrity is honesty. A person who has integrity is honest. We all know old adages like honesty is the best policy and yet, the words of Billy Joel seem to be true:
Honesty is such a lonely word. Everyone is so untrue. Honesty is hardly ever heard.
The desire for self-protection or the fear of being thought of as less than how we want to be perceived is often the motivation for dishonesty. But many of the lies we tell, have no motivation at all, but are just told impulsively without thought. Some studies suggest we lie more than 100 times a day, or more than twice every 10 minutes. That is only counting lies to others, we lie to ourselves more than that, and maybe even more to God. Dishonesty is a core flaw in our being creating a serious lack of integrity.
Sometimes when people are brutally honest, they just want to be brutal. You and I both have probably heard someone say ‘I’m just being real’; somehow that excuses them to say something that is unkind and unnecessary. Jesus was just being real, not to be unkind, unnecessary or brutal. He was being honest. He was forthcoming with the Pharisees in pointing out their hypocrisy and self-serving ways. He was direct with Peter before the disciple messed up, and then again afterward. Although he spoke in parables that were often hard to understand, it was not to mislead, but to cause them to ponder and think. He was honest with God the Father, most transparently portrayed in the prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane, prayers of raw painful reality. Jesus claim of being the truth was an honest self-assessment. He embodied truth. He spoke truth.
You hear people couch their remarks with the preface ‘I’ll be honest with you’, and it often makes me wonder what they were before they made that statement. In considering honesty, let’s be honest with ourselves, with others and most importantly with God. Honesty with ourselves is admitting to ourselves that we fail the truth test at times, and we need to recognise that and admit it. Honest with others is to choose the route of clarity and accuracy in all we say regardless of adverse consequences to ourselves. And most importantly, honest to God in confession; for lying to God is the most futile of all lies. He already knows. Today, watch for those moments when you are tempted to mislead. Refuse to do so. When you do lie whether intentional or impulsively, stop and correct your lie. Don’t lie about lying with some claim that you were misunderstood or made an error, just apologise (to both God and the person you’ve lied to) for your lie and then move on with a clean slate of honesty.