“I’m just tellin’ it like it is!”
“I’m just being honest!”
“My parents taught me to always tell the truth.”
Ever hear or say those words in a conversation (or something along those lines) ? There are times when heartfelt expressions of honesty are not well received. Too often, however, these statements are made in a condescending tone which says to the person on the receiving end that you, the honest one, are attempting to put the listener in his/her place.
What’s missing? What’s wrong with enlightening the other person in the truth? Notice when we look carefully at Scripture we find that honesty is never presented as an isolated virtue which we polish and perfect within ourselves; rather, it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit operating in our lives as He teaches us about Christ. The Spirit, using God’s word, searches us and reveals the deep dishonesty that naturally resides in our hearts. He humbles us, and creates in us a greater thirst to know our Father and to become more like Jesus in our innermost being. As that happens we become more concerned about our own dishonesty and the need for God’s truth and grace to have their way in our hearts (Psalm 51:5-10; John 15:7,8).
How can we discern the evidence of the Spirit’s work in our own lives as we seek to relate honestly to others in a Christlike manner? (Keep in mind that these principles are immediately applicable as we relate to our spouse, to our children, and others closest to us!)
- Biblical honesty is not possible apart from humility. Your view will always be distorted without humbly assessing your own sins and shortcomings before God and repenting of them (Matthew 7:1-5; Philippians 2;1-4; Galatians 6:1).
- Biblical honesty listens well. As we humble ourselves before God and others, we will desire His wisdom and understanding rather than simply an opportunity to push our own opinions (Proverbs 5:1; 18:2,6; Colossians 3:12-17).
- Biblical honesty means speaking the truth in love and humility even when we think the listener might reject us. Nobody wants to be rejected, but patronizing others does not help them nor does it honor God. Speaking the truth humbly in love ultimately builds up others, meets them in their need, and points them to Christ (Proverbs 27:5-6; Ephesians 4:15,16).
At times we may be convinced of things we think others need to hear, but in order to be fruitful and helpful our thoughts and words need to flow from a Christlike humility. This growth comes from His Spirit recreating us in the image of the Son (Ephesians 5:1,2; II Corinthians 3:17,18).
Together in need of His grace,
Trinity Presbyterian Church in Asheville, NC.