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Building Lasting Values
“The Value of Honesty”
Audio File: https://mega.nz/#!HFUD2KBZ!dCadBK5y0wIiCke0wRht–H6eOLQwViCSVjpp2KKLSg
We’ve been doing a series on Building Lasting Values in our lives, or looking at those values that we need as Christians to build our lives upon. Today, we’ll be looking at the value of honesty, or the truth about honesty.
The Bible has a lot of instruction on honesty, about those who were honest, and those who were less than honest, and what happened to both. The most radical example is found in the New Testament when a husband and wife, Ananias and Sapphira, were found to be lying to the Holy Spirit. As a result God struck them down and they died.
Personally I’m really glad that God doesn’t use that same technique about our lies, because if He did this place would be completely empty and I’d be all alone.
One survey said that 91 percent of all Americans lie regularly, but I found myself doubting that survey, because I wasn’t sure if they were of the 9 percent who tell the truth, or of the 91 percent who lie.
But think about how many opportunities there are in our day to be dishonest. Between all of our interactions with others, especially on the Internet, sociologists say that we hear and see 300 lies every day. Actually it is only 200, but I wanted to show you how easy it is to lie.
Here are just a couple of the great American lies that all of us have heard at one time or another.
• The check is in the mail
• The doctor will be right with you
• One size fits all
• This hurts me more than it hurts you
While dishonesty has many different faces, it has one common result, strangulation. Dishonesty strangles the life right out of us. So, why do we continue in it?
One reason is because dishonesty is promoted in our culture. Our culture endorses, embraces and practices untruth so consistently that we’ve come to expect people to be dishonest. We expect a degree of untruthfulness in the ads we watch or listen to.
Back in the late 80’s the Isuzu car manufacturer created a character who they promoted as a liar to sell their cars. His name was Joe Isuzu. In one ad he said, “This car gets 900 miles to the gallon and if you act now you can buy it for 9 dollars.” All the time he’s saying this there is flashing on the TV screen, “He’s lying.” At other times he said that the car had more seats than the Astrodome, or that he used his Isuzu pickup truck to carry a 2,000-pound cheeseburger. Once he said that if he was lying may lightning strike his mother, and up on the screen appears “Good luck, Mom!” And he would always end with “You have my word on it.”
Well, their honesty about their dishonesty made sales rise 20 percent.
The unfortunate part of all of this is that we have come to expect a degree of untruthfulness from business. In one survey 7 out of 10 business people said that they compromised their values to conform to company standards.
We also expect a degree of dishonesty in our education system. A survey of college students showed that 63 percent of humanity majors, 68 percent of science majors, 74 percent engineering majors, and 87 percent of business majors admitted to cheating. They didn’t even bother interviewing political science majors. I wonder if that is telling us something.
And so, from the White House all the way down to the schoolhouse, truth is in trouble, and it isn’t reserved for one age group.
One 12-year-old boy who won first price at a county fair for his 11,000-pound bull was stripped of his prize when it was found out that he had filled the bull with air. How a person fills a bull with air is unknown to me, but that’s what he did.
In Florida an armored truck overturned leaving $300,000 in cash laying on the street, and the news showed a bunch of senior citizens picking it up and trying to run away from the police. And while that is a sad testimony, it must have been hilarious to watch.
I think that it is safe to say that dishonesty is everywhere. And the main reason it is so prevalent in our culture is because it is a part of our sinful nature.
Dr. Leonard Keeler, who invented the lie detector, interviewed 25,000 people and came to the conclusion that people are basically dishonest. This, however, shouldn’t come as a surprise, because the Bible tells us the same thing.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV)
So, dishonesty is in our culture because it is in our nature. But also it is a part of a much larger spiritual structure. In other words, it’s bigger than us. There is a cosmic struggle that’s going. It’s light verses darkness, good versus evil, Satan verses God, and truth verses lies. The Bible tells us that God is truth, while Satan is the liar and the father of all lies.
“There is no truth in him (Satan). When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44 NLT)
In the Bible we’re told that God isn’t like us because He doesn’t lie. The Bible says that God hates lying and it is utterly detestable and repulsive to Him.
“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.” (Proverbs 12:22 NKJV)
And so God hates it when we don’t keep our word, but he delights in when we do. Why does God hate lying? It’s because He is truth and dishonesty is a perversion of His character. Therefore, He places a high priority on truthfulness.
Now, some have said that being honest is a good idea, but even by saying that they have miss the point. It’s not just a good idea; it is God’s command. In fact, it is one of God’s top ten, number nine to be exact.
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16 NKJV)
When we lie, it keeps us from living life the way God has intended it to be lived.
Lying also sears and scars our consciousness. The Apostle Paul says that in the latter times there are going to be those who openly speak lies.
“Speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.” (1 Timothy 4:2 NKJV)
Because lying sears and scars us, we’ll never be able to tell the difference between telling lies and telling the truth.
So, what I would like to do is to take the rest of our time together and look at several steps that will help us tell the truth, because I believe that everyone wants truth, and to tell the truth. In fact, that is how we were created, seeing that we were created in the image and likeness of God who is nothing but truth.
The Bible says, “Buy the truth, and do not sell it.” (Proverbs 23:23a NKJV)
Therefore, whatever truth costs we’re to pay it, because it’s worth it. Whatever it cost to have our lives characterized by the truth is worth it.
So, what are those things, those steps, that will help us develop this value of honesty?
1. Take an Honest Inventory
Or, we could say it like this, we need to take an inventory about our honesty. But, this is not as easy as it sounds, and that’s because deception has been such a part of our lives that we’re not aware we’ve been deceitful.
We have to ask ourselves
When Am I Being Dishonest
Have we been honest or dishonest with others, ourselves, and with God? The last two will be the hardest to answer. We know when we’ve lied to others, but do we know how dishonest we are with ourselves, or how dishonest we are with God, especially when it comes to our relationship with Him.
How Am I Being Dishonest
One way that we’re being dishonest is in how we want there to be peace no matter the cost. Exaggeration is also a form of dishonesty because we are making something bigger than it really is. Silence is another way we’re dishonest because we withhold information, which speaks of deceit. There’s also cheating and flattery, along with compromise and justification.
Why Am I Being Dishonest
One of the main reasons for dishonesty is fear. We fear the consequences of telling the truth, so we lie. Other reasons for lying are insecurity, personal gain, greed, pride, peer pressure, convenience, expediency, selfishness, anger, and jealousy.
The bottom line is that being dishonest is a choice we make, no matter what the reason may be. So, while this honesty test may be tough, it’s better than living a lie.
Is there hope in this, yes. We can ask God to forgive us, and He will, and give us the strength, courage, and grace to move from living in these lies and living in the truth. But this doesn’t happen overnight, and so we need to extend to others such grace, because we need such grace, because as we see when we take such an inventory that we are no different, and as such need such grace from others. In other words, let’s not burn the bridge we have to cross.
2. Evaluate Gains and Losses
If we’re honest, there are gains to dishonesty. We can cheat on our taxes and gain some more money. But I consistency read about someone paying exorbitant penalties because they got caught.
We can lie about almost anything and gain something, like time, influence, or even a better reputation. But are these gains really more appealing than telling the truth? If they are, then what we have just admitted to is that we would rather walk in the ways of the world than in the ways of God.
But whatever gains there may be from being dishonest and lying, these gains are only temporary. Like Olympians who win medals only to have them stripped away because they cheated in some way.
“Trouble chases sinners, while blessings chase the righteous.” (Proverbs 13:21 NLT)
So, the question becomes, what do we want chasing after us: troubles or blessings.
What do we gain by being honest?
Honesty Develops Character
There’s a difference between character and reputation. Reputation is what people think about us, while character is who we really are when no one’s looking. And when reputation and character come together that’s when honesty and integrity are gained, and is passed on to our kids.
“The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children after them.” (Proverbs 20:7 NLT)
Honesty Develops Spiritual Maturity
“Instead, we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” (Ephesians 4:15 NLT)
When we’re honest we’ll deal with the sin that keeps us from growing, and such honesty propels us toward spiritual maturity.
Honesty Develops Security
Security is when we don’t have to look over our shoulder. When we’re dishonest we lose that security, because we always have to remember not only what we lied about, but who we lied about it too. Mark Twain said, “It’s easier to tell the truth; that way you don’t have to keep track of anything.”
“The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.” (Proverbs 11:6 NIV)
Doing right brings freedom, doing wrong imprisons us. When we tell the truth, we don’t have to worry about who or what we lied about, and that is freeing, but when we lie, we’re always living with a sense that we can get caught at any time.
There is an incentive to live a life of truth.
Solomon said, “I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there.” (1 Chronicles 29:17 NLT)
God rejoices when He finds honesty and integrity, and that should be incentive enough to tell the truth.
3. Pursue a Relationship with God
The more intimate we are with God; the more we are compelled to be honest. When God invades our lives through our faith in Jesus Christ, it’s difficult to be dishonest, because the Holy Spirit is now residing within us.
“You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.” (Psalm 51:6 NKJV)
When we are honest with ourselves, others, and with God, then God will give us the wisdom we need to live life the right way. But such honesty must be pursued in relationship with God, because only He is honest and true.
4. Practice Honesty
We need to practice honesty in every area of your life.
The Apostle James said, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22 NKJV)
What he is saying is that we are lying to ourselves when we don’t follow through on the truths we hear. If all we’re doing is listening to what is being said without doing anything about it, then God is saying that all we’re doing is lying to ourselves.
Let me give you three blessings that come when we practice honesty.
Honesty Guards Us
“He grants a treasure of good sense to the godly. He is their shield, protecting those who walk with integrity.” (Proverbs 2:7 NLT)
When we’re honest, the Lord will be our shield and protector.
Honesty Directs Us
“The godly are directed by their honesty; the wicked fall beneath their load of sin.” (Proverbs 11:5 NLT)
When we’re honest God’s direction will become clear.
Honesty Sustains Us
“Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.” (Proverbs 12:19 NIV)
Honestly will always outlast dishonesty.
So it all boils down to trust. The truth about honesty is all about who we are going to trust. If we say God, then we need to follow His way and His word for our lives, and make honesty a value that we’ll build our lives upon.
The biggest lies Satan perpetrates on humanity is that we’re not really all that bad, and that there are many ways to get to heaven.
The truth is that there aren’t many ways to get to heaven. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6 NKJV).
The Bible says that we are all sinners; that there is no one who is righteous enough to make it into heaven. For all have sinned, the Bible says, and fall short of God’s holy and righteous standards for life, that is, they fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23).
And so today, as we end our time, let’s ask the Lord to forgive us, not only for our lack of honesty, but also to forgive us of our sins, and that is what He’ll do, forgive us and cleanse us. And God’s promise is that He will make us into a brand new creation, where the old is past away, and all things become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).
And that’s the honest truth, and that is the truth about honesty.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study