Webster defines honest as (1)”that does not steal, cheat or lie; upright or trustworthy. (2) got by fair means, not by stealing, cheating, or lying. (3) sincere or genuine. (4) frank and open.” Honesty runs deep. It is far more than not telling an outright lie.
I suspect there is at least a little dishonesty and deception in all of us; maybe not intentional, but there none-the-less. In as simple a test of honesty as reporting an incident, it is hard to convey it accurately and honestly, in such a way that the hearer gets a true picture. As people pass along their take on matters, almost without exception they scrub what they say to make themselves and their position look good and the opposition look bad. They conveniently leave out details of what they did or said and the manner in with they did or said it. Nearly always the finger is pointing in the other direction. It is so ingrained that few realize their guilt.
Particularly in matters involving conflict, biases are the norm. Preconceived notions and ignorance tend to dominate the landscape. Facts and evidence are rarely the basis of judgments and alliances. People almost always square off on the basis of self-interests, friendships, rumors and who they like or dislike.
Fundamental honesty is seeing things as they really are. It is not inflation or deflation. It is not direction based on hearsay or false reports. Even from friends! Honesty is facing up to truth even when the truth is painful and the culprit is you or your loved one, maybe even a family member. The man holding the balances of justice is blindfolded; justice is based on honesty and truth. It is blind to the actors in the drama. Discrimination, self-interests, preconceived notions, rumors, hearsay, friendships and all other subjective considerations have no place.
Truth is so illusive yet good people are quick to jump to premature conclusions and act upon them. Yes, good people, Christian people! And, the world is watching: the children and the mate, the neighbors and people at work and even other Christians. Our great, honest and just God says to us,“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19).
Of all people, God’s people should be living examples of fundamental honesty. All bystanders (family, friends, fellow-employees, etc.) should know honesty was a part of every decision. Objective investigation was done; the facts were found and considered. Decisions were not made on the basis of family, friendships or personal interests or preferences. Their actions and lifestyles should be reflections of their claims. God said, “So speak ye, and so do” (James 2:12). It is dishonest to claim to believe something and contradict it with your life. The bystanders all know that. Fundamental honest is a lifestyle; not merely a few true words here and then. It is making scriptural applications that are honest; using them to make the points God makes, not to make your points. Somehow honesty has to do with consistency: words with deeds, yesterday with today, with the Bible, with friend or foe, regardless of the consequences, apples for apples, in spirit and approach, in good times and bad, public and private. Somehow honesty is transparent, with nothing to hide. It is not afraid to be exposed or tested. I recall the young lad who was on the witness stand. The prosecutor was trying hard to break him. He said, “Young man, did your father tell you what to say on this witness stand?” “Yes sir, he did.” “What did he say?” “Sir, he told me to tell the truth.”
Oh how I pray for a revival of fundamental honesty among all people, especially God’s people! This world is so full of deception and lies. Dishonesty permeates commercials. Politics and politicians are infamous for smoke and mirrors. Hollywood excels in make-believe. The mindset of modern church is what the people want, not what God wants. Every day we stand in awe as we learn of the corruption, immorality, dishonesty and deception that went on behind the closed doors of governments, corporations, churches and homes. Isaiah said, “For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them; In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth.” We are there.
There is no question that God wants us to be like Him and He is fundamentally honest. Justice is His hallmark. We are His ambassadors, people who should shine as beacons of light and “Provide things honest in the sight of all men”(Romans 12:17). Honest work, doing your homework before opening your mouth and making a decision, standing up for what is right even when it costs you, a private life consistent with your public claims and an humble and kind spirit will make you stand out like a sore thumb almost anywhere. As rare as fundamental honesty is, it is the will of God for all of us. “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12).