Honesty. It is one of the fundamental virtues, isn’t it? Truth. That is a thing to be valued highly.
I imagine that every single one of us would like to consider ourselves (and be considered) as an honest person. I know I do. And chances are that we would say that we are honest people if we were asked about ourselves. In fact, I have not known too many people in this world who would not say that they are honest people. Have you?
And yet, though almost everyone claims to be honest, we know that there is a tremendous amount of dishonesty in this world.
I have decided that something is definitely true: Nobody I know is perfectly honest. And, yes, that includes me.
True honesty to the highest degree is a very stringent requirement. To be perfectly honest at all times would mean that we never say anything that we know would lead someone to a wrong understanding of a situation. How many times have you ever avoided an embarrassing answer to a question with a reply crafted just slightly enough to mislead? That is dishonesty. Or how many times have you done things in secret (let them be small things, if you like) that you don’t want your spouse to observe so you make some small manipulations to your surroundings in an attempt to cover up your small deed. Maybe your deed was right; maybe it was wrong. But the question here is about honesty in doing it. I know that there are times when I have desired not to be found out in regards to a small thing that I know I should not have done or perhaps merely something that embarrasses me for some reason or other, so I find myself making these slight changes to my words or actions in the hopes of not being found out. My conscience pricks me when I do this. I find that it is far better for me not to allow a hint of dishonesty. Perhaps I am the only one ever to have done this.
Or let me bring another example to mind. Have you ever seen children discussing a matter and one child asks the other child, “Do you promise?” When we see that, do we think it childish? But then again, how many of us would like all the statements we have made this week to be tested under oath?
For example, what about your taxes this year? You have already filed them. What would happen if you suddenly were visited by the IRS for an audit? If they sat down with you and went over your taxes line by line, would they find perfect truth? Would there be any exaggerations of amounts that are a bit slanted in your favor? Would all the data really match up to reality?
There are a thousand cases in life where we are tempted to be slightly loose and free with the truth. It takes a firm conscience before God never to give in to that temptation.
Can we look ourselves in the eye and plainly state that we are dedicated to always telling the truth, regardless of the consequences? I believe that if anyone would make that commitment, it would have a drastic change upon their life.
It is perhaps most difficult of all to be honest with and about yourself. But if you would do that, you would begin to face some of the most profound realities in life. You would begin to know your own heart and soul, and you would have to recognize some things that are true about every single man that has ever lived. You would not be able to live in the pretended reality that you are a good person by nature. You would not be able to ignore some of the deeply resonating truths that lie within your heart. Recognizing these truths could lead you to some very important questions. A commitment to honesty might just be the beginning step in a path that ends in eternal consequences.
Be honest, now: Are you always honest? Keep this question in mind for yourself throughout the coming days and weeks. I can just about guarantee you that at some point before too terribly long you will face a test of your honesty. Will you commit to truth? Do you truly believe that honesty is the best policy? I do. But let’s be honest about what that really means.