Character Trait No. 31
Definition: Dealing righteously, showing what is right and proper to the Lord and to others.
“...for we have regard for what is honorable (honest), not only in the sight of the Lord,
but also in the sight of men.” II Cor.8: 21
“Honestly speaking”, says the town gossip, as she passes on the choicest bit of smutty misinformation about her neighbor living on her left to the other one living on her right. Like the popular phrase, “frankly speaking.”(Frank sure talks a lot for one guy!) Honestly, where will one find honesty these days? “Truthspeak” is an honest man’s language. Yet being honest is much more than just being truthful. It is the perfect integrity of a man in all of his dealings. Honest men live in glass houses because of their total transparency. They live with nothing to hide and hide nothing. (Except where they’re protectively shielding others from things that would hurt them or the Lord’s work). Such honest living in the glaring light of inspection by God and man is not easy! It takes real honest hearts and much practice.
Jesus was the most honest man who ever lived, and also the most examined. Four men wrote biographies on his life. Jesus grew up in a small town and in a big family, with four brothers and at least several sisters. Now everyone knows everybody else’s business in small towns. There are no secrets! Jesus said that everything hidden would be revealed, and everything secret would come to light. (Mk. 4:22) Such is true for one who lived as Jesus lived. When he returned to Nazereth, they didn’t honor him as special because he had grown up as the carpenter, son of Mary, brother of James, Joses, Judas and Simon. (Mk.6: 3) Yet notice that there never was or has there been any damaging information that’s surfaced about him. He was so spotless that only false witnesses could be hired to accuse him at his illegal mock trial. (Mk.14: 56) Even then they couldn’t agree on any charge. The only one even partially stuck was that he would “destroy” the temple” – and “not even in this respect was their testimony consistent.” (Mk.14: 59) Think about it: A man with so many enemies, having lived and worked among the multitudes with even a traitor/spy among his disciples, and they couldn’t convict him of one sin!! No wonder the scripture boldly asserts that Christ was a man “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” (Hb.4: 15) Truly he was the only perfectly honest man who ever lived.
Reading of the honesty of Christ challenges and sobers our view of our own honesty. Who has nothing to hide? Live long enough and almost all men have some cat in the bag. Numerous examples could be given of seemingly honest men with sordid past or questionable dealings. Recall the latest news on Rev. Jesse Jackson, or Bill Cosby for instance. This is not to pick on these individuals, but it highlights the dishonesty that now pervades our humanistic wicked society. Even “good men” are tainted by the corruption that is in the world due to lust. (II Pet 1:4) What a shame when even the ex-President of the United States is a corrupt man, pardoning men like Brad Rich, a criminal financier living with his stolen millions in Switzerland! Yet the President should be the role model of honesty to all the little boys and girls throughout the land. How far we’ve come from George Washington whom told his papa after chopping down the cherry tree, “I cannot tell a lie.” Or “Honest” Abe Lincoln, who walked miles to return a penny more in change mistakenly, given him. The technological revolution, the so-called sexual revolution, the information revolution of the past years- all these have not brought us an integrity revolution! We must repent, corporately and individually. What happened to the days when a simple handshake sealed a business transaction, or a man’s word was his bond? Gone, long gone – except for the remnant of honest men and women who remain.
We need “honesty training”. Integrity must be restored. Ethical standards must be enforced in business, politics and in the judiciary. Religious leaders who are dishonest must be rejected. The church must lead the way (as usual) in restoring integrity to society. We are the salt and light of the world. We must first repent because judgement begins with the household of God. As Peter wrote:
“By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God. For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God.” (I Pet.4: 15-17)
Paul also writes:
“And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.”
Hypocrisy left untreated in the church will destroy both the individuals involved and the entire church. Can the church be destroyed be such individuals? Read I Cor.3: 17: “If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him...” Then see I Cor.5: 7, which tells the Corinthian church to “clean out the old leaven and not to associate with any so-called brother who was openly rebellious to the truth and denying the gospel. “REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES,” quoted Paul from Deut.13: 5
Let us restore confidence in title “Christian”. Such a name must not have bad connotations attached, if possible. “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers they may on account of your good deed, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (Pet.2: 12) Peter says nearly the same later I Pet.2: 20 and 3:10-17. We must live in glass houses and be able to call others to live likewise as transparent men and women with nothing to hide and hiding nothing. A lamp is not brought out to be put under a basket or bed, but set on a lampstand. (Mk.4: 20) We are a city on a hill. Let us repent where necessary and then turn confidently to the light source, Christ in glory, who can restore our tainted shine and help us glow brighter and brighter until He comes. Clean house, Christian, and be honest in all of your dealings with God and man and many will see and be converted.
Here’s how to be a true-blue honest dude:
- Don’t think too fearfully about the consequences of telling the truth. Just do it and trust God that the truth shall set you free. Please God, not man.
- Carefully keep records of financial dealings. Get receipts. Help keep honest men honest. Do some bookkeeping when dealing with any sizable sum of cash. Get helpful advice where needed.
- Avoid every appearance of evil. Paul took along reliable men to accompany his large gift for the Jerusalem poor fund. Our text, “...we are careful to be honorable before the Lord and men” is talking about this fund. Keep good records for open scrutiny.
- Don’t overly rely on your memory. Others may have a better recollection. Keep journals and important letters on file.
- Most of all, confess shortcomings and sins to God, and whenever appropriate to men. Be accountable and ready to apologize. Don’t argue with the facts if they don’t favor your cause. Let the truth be the final arbitrator!
As President Abraham said, honesty is still the best policy, especially for the Christian. Develop this character trait to perfection and your reward will be great in heaven.