Recently my daughter and I went to watch a football match at the home of renowned FA Cup giant killers Blyth Spartans. Just before the game started I saw an elderly man drop what looked like some money from his wallet as he entered the ground. He had actually dropped £100 without realising! I ran after him to return the money and he was so grateful he gave me one of the £20 notes (which I refused…..but he insisted!). The £20 covered our tickets and refreshments. The Lord provides in mysterious ways!
This got me thinking about how honest we are. Clearly we should always tell people when they’ve dropped things or left items behind in coffee shops, restaurants or on public transport but I guess the challenge is to be honest in every area of our lives. Benjamin Franklin, the American activist, statesman, diplomat, scientist & inventor chose never to patent anything saying ‘honesty is the best policy!’
Honesty is the minimum God expects from each of us. Whether in business, with family, friendships or in other contexts, being honest & truthful should always be our priority. We live in a corrupt world and you might be surprised to discover how easy it is for us to adopt the world’s standards rather than follow God’s.
There are so many areas where we could be challenged about being honesty. Here are just four:
This is one of the most important areas where we need to be honest.
‘Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.’ (Mother Theresa)
I wonder how honest you are in your close relationships?
Do the people closest to you really know you?
Do you tell people how you really feel and are you truly yourself amongst other people?
Do you only let people see what you want them to see?
Do you have to ‘look good’ all the time and ‘have it all together?’
Husbands & Wives
Being honest and open are two of the most important emotional needs identified in marriage. My wife Julia and I have been married for nearly 30 years now and we’ve discovered that making time to talk and listen to each other is critical to the success of our marriage. How else do a couple ever come to understand each other and make the adjustments that are necessary to ensure the other’s happiness?
Can I encourage you to talk regularly and share your thoughts, feelings, habits, likes, dislikes, personal history, daily activities, experiences and hopes & plans for the future. Make time – you’d be amazed at what you will discover, both negative and positive, when you talk together. Often we’ve become aware of things that were creating pressure and difficulties, and have been able to resolve them quite easily….all because of a little honesty.
Years ago I employed two ladies in my newsagent shop in Leicester. One would arrive late, finish early and do the minimum she could get away with in between. The other lady would arrive early and start work immediately and we literally had to order her home at night! She worked so hard and became a key member of staff. Two people and yet such different outlooks!
‘Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favour, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.’ (Colossians 3:22-24)
How honest are you at work?
Do you work hard as though you were working for the Lord?!
Do you go below or beyond the call of duty?
Which of those ladies I employed are you most like?
What is your attitude and work rate when the boss isn’t there?
(The true test of someone’s character is when no one is looking!)
Is volunteering any different?
Are you an honest and reliable volunteer?
Do you only do the jobs you like and leave the ‘boring’ or ‘routine’ work to others?
Do you pull your weight or let others take the strain?
When the team leader is away/absent do you work just as hard?
How about making a decision today that whatever you do – it’s going to be an act of worship to your God & you’re going to give it your best shot….
EVERY DAY LIFE
King David said: ‘I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent.’ (1 Chronicles 29:17)
What are the points where you’ve been tempted not to be honest?
I remember, as a young man, dashing for a train and jumping on with no time to purchase a ticket and eventually reaching my destination several hours later having not paid anything! At the time I thought I had been blessed – but actually I had stolen from the rail network!
What temptations do you face to be dishonest?
Longer rest breaks at work?
Pretending you’re younger on public transport to save money?
Lying about the reason you’re late with an assignment?
Undercharged for a bill at a shop/restaurant or when you receive too much change back (no the Lord hasn’t provided!)?
Lying on a job application, tax return, expenses, benefits or insurance claim?
Being paid ‘cash in hand?’
When you’re tempted to ‘borrow’ from work or church?
When someone asks you a question that requires an honest answer?
Copying DVD’s or plagiarising articles?
I believe that being honest is doing what’s right regardless of the outcome or personal cost. ‘It’s better to be honest and poor than to be dishonest and rich’ (Proverbs 16:8)
HONEST ABOUT OURSELVES
However, the greatest challenge is not always being honest with others, it is being honest with ourselves.
‘Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.’ (Romans 12:3)
Can I encourage you to be honest in your evaluation of yourself? Here are four of the most common ways in which we can slip up:
Believing We Are Better Than We Actually Are Or That We Are Something That We Are Not
It’s good to have an honest picture of what we can and can’t do. Sometimes even a little success can cause us to believe our own press. I know I’m not the greatest pastor, leader or preacher in the world but I’ve made it my goal to be the ‘best me’ that I can be, with God’s help.
Believing We’re The Finished Article
It’s a dangerous place to be when we think we’re the finished article….I hope none of us do. I’m sure that God has more work to do in each of us…..
Believing We’re Are More Important Than Anyone Else
It’s wrong to believe that the gifting that God has given us is more important than what he has given others – we’re all part of the body of Christ and all of us have our part to play. (Check out Romans 12:4-8 & 1 Cor. 12:21-25)
Believing That We Have Nothing To Offer
We have all been uniquely created by God, with unique gifts and abilities, for a purpose and we all have something to offer God and the world in general. Dan Scott says,
“Discovering who you are and what you are truly passionate about is one of life’s greatest challenges, but it is also one of the secrets to success and, ultimately, happiness. So try, really try, to be honest with yourself when it comes to who you are. Listen to that inner voice, and trust it. You already have the answer. After all, it is who you are.”
Honesty Is The Best Policy
Zig Ziglar said quite rightly; ‘Honesty and integrity are absolutely essential for success in life – all areas of life. The really good news is that anyone can develop both honesty and integrity.’ The Bible promises that God rewards honesty:
“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.” (Proverbs 10:9)
“Those who are honest and fair, who refuse to profit by fraud, who stay far away from bribes, who refuse to listen to those who plot murder, who shut their eyes to all enticement to do wrong— these are the ones who will dwell on high. The rocks of the mountains will be their fortress. Food will be supplied to them, and they will have water in abundance.” (Isaiah 33:15-16)
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10)
There are so many rewards for being honest. Honesty is DEFINITELY the best policy!
Is there anyone you need to forgive for being dishonest? A former employee, boss, business partner, spouse, friend, colleague. Maybe today is the moment to forgive them in your heart and to move forward.