Dealing With Dishonesty
By: Kristen L. McNulty
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In our society, honesty is becoming more and more rare. It seems like on almost a daily basis we are bombarded with dishonestly. Just turn on the evening news: another politician broke his word, another witness gave false testimony, and another executive doctored the numbers. As honestly slips further and further away, so goes with it people who can be trusted for their word. We’ve become quite cynical because isn’t a sucker born every minute? Why get out hopes up just to be disappointed by lies again?
Unfortunately, this trend of dishonesty has also worked its way into our churches. Not only do some churches avoid controversial subjects, and therefore taking a stand for Truth, but they also openly create lies. How many churches out there are now embracing and teaching values that the Bible clearly reveals are wrong? I shudder at the numbers.
But before we start pointing fingers at others we need to hold up a mirror and take a look at our own lives first, because there is a lot more to honesty and integrity than dealing with flat-out lies.
Proverbs 11:3 points out that “Good people are guided by their honesty; treacherous people are destroyed by their dishonesty.” This proverb makes a clear association of what category being dishonest puts you in. It also points out the consequences of dishonesty: destruction. Maybe you’re hearing this and think that sounds a bit harsh or is only reserved for big lies, but the truth is dishonesty can lead to horrible consequences.
First of all, dishonesty causes us to lose credibility and respect. Every time we tell a lie we run the risk of the truth being exposed and when that happens we lose respect from others.
Another consequence of dishonesty is that it has the potential to affect our witness as Christians. If we go around and tell everyone that we know the Truth, then on the other hand they see us living dishonestly, our testimony of who God is isn’t going to be well received. Over and over in the New Testament, Jesus refers to us as His witnesses. I am sure perjury wasn’t what He had in mind when He gave us the privilege of wearing that title.
Finally, dishonesty often leads to a big consequence: the damaging effect it can have on relationships. Let’s face it: lies create a distance between people, whether or not they have actually been exposed. Once a lie has been exposed, the lie usually hurts the person who has been offended and creates a sense of distrust in the relationship. All of those things combined have the potential to cause a relationship to crumble. That is a huge consequence to pay for something that could have been avoided with the truth.
Yes, honesty also does cost us something. We don’t lie because it’s fun- we lie to avoid what we perceive the results of telling the truth will be. Sometimes we are afraid that we will hurt someone’s feelings, other time’s we are concerned about the effect the truth will have on us, and often we lie because we view a lie as easier to both speak and hear than the truth.
While all of these reasons may seem justified in our minds, God has clearly pointed out in His word that there is no substitute for the truth. Titus 1:2 points out that God is incapable of lying and if we desire to be like Him, we must seek to hold the same standards.
Unfortunately, this is not easy because living a life of honesty and integrity is more than just not vocalizing a lie. It is living in such a way that truth is always both said and implied. It is being real with one another as believers and it is standing for truth no matter what the cost. As J.C Ryle once said:
“Let authenticity be one great mark of your approach to Christ, and there is everything to give you hope…Let there be nothing of coldness, of double-dealing, of dishonesty, of sham, of counterfeit, in your Christianity. Never be content to wear a cloak of religion. Be all that you profess. Though you may sin, be authentic. Though you may stumble, be true. Keep this principle continually before your eyes, and it will be well with your soul throughout your journey from grace to glory.”
This is a lifelong challenge and a journey that we are all on. We may fall and make mistakes, but where there is repentance, there is also forgiveness.
In closing, if you find yourself in the situation where you’ve been less than honesty with someone in your life lately, do yourself and the person a favor and tell them the truth. No, it will not change the fact that you lied, but your confession is proof to them that you know what you did is wrong and that you are going to change. In that, relationships damaged by dishonesty can be restored.
This devotional was aired as a part of the Making A Difference Christian Radio Show.