In the last few years, I have come to realize how important honesty is to me. If you don’t want to do something, tell me. If I ask you a question, I really want to know what your opinion is on the topic. Don’t just say what you think I want to hear. For one thing, it might not be at all what I want to hear.
Recently I had a discussion with someone who has held a lot against me for several years but wouldn’t talk about it. At times, when I would ask, she would say that everything was fine but I knew it wasn’t. Ironically, she didn’t think I was honest with her either. This has caused me to evaluate, what is honesty, and am I as honest as I think I am?
I consider myself an honest person. If you are my friend, don’t ask me if your dress makes you look fat unless you really want to know. I am not, however, going to volunteer that information unless you ask me.
Being honest does not mean losing all filter, thereby bringing people to tears. And it doesn’t mean telling people everything you think of them like the young lady we knew years ago who would confess that she’d been harboring all kinds of things toward people that they had no clue about until she freed herself of the discomfort of holding onto grudges and transferred them to people who now became uncomfortable, never knowing where they stood until the next confession. However, if something is bothering you and you can’t let go of it, or if you know someone has an issue with you, you need to go to them and resolve the issue (Matthew 18:15). Stuffing it does not solve anything, and the issue can grow until it becomes full-blown hatred and bitterness.
There are times that people will rub you the wrong way, and you need to work on yourself to love them as Christ does, remembering that you are not always easy to love either. If there hasn’t been a specific offense given or sin committed, this is the thing to do instead of letting the person know how much they get on your nerves. I don’t think this would be considered dishonesty as much as it is allowing God to do the work He has begun, teaching you to be more patient and selfless in dealing with difficult people.
Another area of honesty has to do with confessing our sins one to another (James 5:16). If you have sinned against someone, you need to go to that person and make it right. If you have sinned publicly, you need to repent and possibly acknowledge your sin before the church. If you have a private sin that only God and you know about, I don’t think any good comes by confessing that openly unless you want to be the subject of gossip and the recipient of avoidance, but you should find a pastor or a spiritually strong confidant who will pray with you and hold you accountable so that you can overcome this sin. It takes a very strong person to be able to conquer sin without that and, if you were that strong, I don’t think you would have succumbed in the first place.
I suppose I am still pondering the question, Am I honest? I feel like I’ve become an open book that many would like to find a way to shut but I expect that I still have some growing to do in this as well. My prayer for this year is that I will be willing to speak the truth … but in love (Ephesians 4:15), that my speech will always be gracious, seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6). (Remember that too much salt is bitter and hard to swallow but just the right amount can turn bland food into satisfying.)
Let me challenge you to stop putting on a fake smile and insisting nothing is wrong. Sure, “fine” may be the answer you should give to someone who asks out of courtesy in passing how you’re doing, but if you know the person cares about you, be willing to say, “Honestly, I’m having a rough day but I’m so thankful that I serve a God who gives beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:3). That is honesty, my friends. So I’ll ask you the same question I’m asking myself: Are you honest?