What God Says About Honesty
The truth hurts.
Think of a time when you’ve been given bad news. Would you have preferred if you had been lied to so you could continue living life through rose-colored glasses? Imagine a dentist withholding information that you have a cavity or a doctor withholding the truth about the state of your health. Although the truth may change your life, it could save it.
There have been ways in my life when honestly sharing the truth has been painful at the moment, but it opened the door for deeper relationships with God and others. Opening up about my sin with God, sharing my convictions with my spouse, or discussing my hurts with friends have all required truthful honesty.
God has a lot to say about honesty throughout His Word. Biblical texts allude to the topic of trustworthiness, integrity, and purity. Without honesty, these traits are impossible. How can someone be trustworthy without honesty? How can you be pure when you live a life of dishonesty?
Honesty is integral to developing a deep relationship with God.
Proverbs 12:22 “The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in people who are trustworthy.”
2 Timothy 2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
God wants us to be honest with Him. When we face God with our humble honesty, we draw closer to Him. At times it may feel like the opposite is true. If we present ourselves as we truly are, we may fear His response to our true thoughts.
Although God knows our present condition more than we do ourselves, too often have I approached God masked by my insincerity as if He is oblivious to who I truly am. We should be brutally truthful with God because He knows us on a deep relational level and wants what is best for us. Why should we live with a façade knowing God can answer our deepest longings (see Matthew 7:7)?
When we are honest with God, this motivates and influences our ability to be honest with ourselves.
As described by David Benner in “The Gift of Being Yourself,” before we attempt to know our true selves, we must first accept that we are known by God. “Genuine self-knowledge begins by looking at God and noticing how God is looking at us” (p. 46). How is God looking at us? God loves you deeply. Reread John 3:16 to see what lengths God went to show His love for us.
When we accept that our identity is ultimately in the Creator God, we can deny defenses we may have put between ourselves and God. This will change how we approach God when we feel shame under the weight of our sin.
“Every time I dare to meet God in the vulnerability of my sin and shame, this knowing [of myself] is strengthened. Every time I fall back into self-improvement mode and try to bring God my best self, it is weakened.” (p. 49, David G. Benner, The Gift of Being Yourself)
Don’t be afraid to tell God the details of your sin. Honesty in this confession allows God to forgive you and give you freedom. God and God alone has the power to transform, so why shouldn’t we cling to God in pure vulnerability as who we are right now?
Additionally, we are also given power by God to be graciously honest with others.
Ephesians 4:25 “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”
Colossians 3:9 “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices.”
Do not lie. That sentence seems elementary, but in practice, it can be the most challenging task for some of us. God calls us to speak the truth in honesty with others.
This is the anecdote for all gossip and slander. Expressing truthful perspectives with your spouse, church family, friends, or coworkers will bring pain for a season, but in the end, that relationship will flourish far more than if you expressed it with others or kept it to yourself.
We should seek wisdom for being brutally and graciously truthful with ourselves and others. The godly blend of graciousness and truthfulness will begin to deepen our relationships with others and create a community that reflects the character of God.
This kind of honesty will aid our mission to be authentic and transparent with others. It’s too easy in today’s world to live a front-stage life that presents perfection while our backstage life reveals a different reality. By revealing our true selves to others, we give God glory by shedding a self that isn’t real.
This calling also aids our ability to confess to one another within the church.
“Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).
How would your brothers and sisters in Christ know how to pray for you unless you were honest with your sin and transparent with your requests? We need to be honest within the church for accountability and authenticity. Choose a trusted group of friends or a close friend within the church to help you with this journey of discipleship.
Because we possess an identity in an honest and trustworthy God, this task is only possible when we are grounded in the character of God. The world we live in is stained by sin. We are dishonest and fraudulent people. But there is hope in Jesus. He is the perfect God-man who was and is trustworthy without any measure of fraud. We can approach the throne of God because we are made clean and pure in Christ.
It may hurt to put yourself out there through honesty, but the lasting fruit will be a closer identity with God, a helpful understanding of who you are, and a greater sense of community with others.
So, in all honestly, God wants you. Be authentic with Him and see how He can set you free.