Just How Honest Are You?
One of Paul's classmates is having a party on Friday night. Paul really wants to go, but his parents said no. Since it's not gonna be one of those wild drunken bashes or anything, and he's convinced Mom and Dad are just being overly protective, Paul hatches a plan. He tells 'em he's going to a movie and then out for coffee with some youth group friends. Mom and Dad approve, Paul hops in the car, pulls away and heads. … straight for the party.
Hey, he thinks, nothing bad'll happen. Besides, they're just too paranoid! They're treating me like a kid!
Jennifer is filling out college applications, and she knows schools are impressed by extracurricular activities. Early in the semester, as a joke, she "crashed" the photo shoots for the French Club, Debate Team, Student Council and Service Society—clubs she never actually attended—just to get a few extra shots in the yearbook.
Hmm, she thought, the yearbook shows that I was in those clubs. So. And so she begins to write on one application, "French Club, Debate Team..."
Chris is dreading this afternoon's chem quiz. He runs into Dave, who had the quiz first period.
"Well?" Chris asks. "How'd it go?"
"Brutal," Dave says. "But check this out. It fell off Mr. Lofton's desk, and I nabbed it. He never noticed." It's the answer sheet for the quiz.
"Want it?" Dave asks, grinning. Chris smiles and takes it, folds it up, and puts it in his pocket, suddenly feeling pretty good about that quiz.
How would you react in any of those situations? We've all been there. Opportunities to lie and cheat come up daily. The question is, Will we?
In a recent survey of almost 9,000 high school students:
1. 92% lied to their parents in the past 12 months (79% two or more times)
2. 78% lied to a teacher
3. 71% cheated on a test
4. Would lie to get a job
Now, stack those stats up against this one: Seventy-one percent of all teens say it's "very desirable" to live with "a high degree of integrity."
Something's not adding up here. A youth pastor recently told Campus Life that most of his students are on fire for God. And yet when many of them pull out of the church parking lot, they change—becoming, among other things, dishonest. How many of us does that describe?
As Christians, we can find it relatively easy to say no to "big" sins like drugs and alcohol and premarital sex. But we sometimes find it harder to say no to dishonesty, especially when it doesn't seem to hurt anybody. Or does it?
"The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful." (Proverbs 12:22).
"Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor." (Ephesians 4:25).
"You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32).
Why the struggle?
The Bible couldn't be any clearer: Truth good, lying bad. And we believe that. So why do so many of us still have a hard time with being totally honest?
A few reasons. First, it's basic human nature: We're all sinners (Romans 3:23). And sinners sin.
Second, we all have this thing called "pride." That doesn't necessarily mean you think you're better than everybody else. But it does mean we're all capable of putting our own self-interests above others'.
Take the examples at the beginning of this article. Paul put his interests above his parents', and went to the party anyway. Jennifer put her interests above the college's, and took credit for activities she never did. She also put her interests above other applicants'; suppose the college accepted Jennifer and turned down someone who filled out her application honestly? Chris puts his interests above the teacher's, and above his fellow students', since he'd likely end up with a grade he didn't deserve. And of course, they all put their interests above God's.
What's the solution?
So what do we do about this dishonesty thing? Well, these steps are a good place to start:
1. We hide God's Word in our hearts. We memorize one or more of the verses on this page, and we think about them when we're tempted to be dishonest.
2. We remember that Christ is the Truth. And the only way others can see him in us is to reflect that truth.
3. We ask someone to hold us accountable. Find a trusted friend whose job is to often ask, "Are you telling the truth? Told any lies lately?"
4. We pray. We ask God to help us be truthful always, at all costs.
We make it a habit. The more we speak truth, the more it becomes not just what we say, but who we are. And when we are truth, it's so much easier to speak it. Always.
Written by Mark Moring