Honesty and Integrity

It goes without saying that both Christians and non-Christians feel that honesty and trustworthiness are important qualities. These qualities are also near and dear to the heart of our Lord.

Proverbs 6:16-19 says…
There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17. haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18. a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19. a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

And as we continue in Proverbs:
Proverbs 11:1, “The Lord abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight.”

Proverbs 12:19,
“Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.”

Proverbs 19:1,
“Better is a poor man whose walk is blameless than a fool whose lips are perverse.”

Proverbs 20:23,
“The Lord detests differing weights, and dishonest scales do not please

Proverbs 21:6,
“A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.”

Proverbs 21:28,
“A false witness will perish, and whoever listens to him will be destroyed forever.”

The Lord goes to great lengths to tell of his desire to see honesty in our Christian walk. As Christians, people need to know that what you say is true, and that you can be trusted. Once we lose a person’s trust it is very difficult, if not impossible, to get it back. Trust is the basis of a good relationship, whether a family, friend, business, or personal acquaintance. A relationship not grounded in trust will always be suspect.

I once started working for a company as a District Merchandise Manager. Just after I joined there was a series of meetings that included a team-building golf outing. I am not a very good golfer, so I was with the last foursome of players who had similar skills. There were some nominal gifts for best scores, but it was mostly meant as a fun and relaxing afternoon. On about the 7th hole, one of the people that I was golfing with hit the ball very evenly with mine. The first, second, and third shots all hit very close to each other, we were both on the green in 4 shots, and we both putted in three. I picked up my ball and told the person keeping score that I had shot a 7. The person I was playing with, whose ball was close to mine, putted, pulled his ball from the hole, and declared that he shot a 6. I thought that was strange, because I was sure he had shot a 7 due to the way we had hit similar shots the entire hole. So, being the optimistic sort that always thinks the best of others, I started covertly counting his shots on the next hole. He shaved off at least 1 to 2 strokes from his score on just about all of the remaining holes. From that point on I just could not bring myself to trust him, and every time we spoke I thought about the golf game and his cheating. After all, if someone is willing to lie about the little things, then what will stop them from lying about the important things as well? In the same way, you will not be an effective communicator if you cannot be trusted—you will simply be dismissed along with whatever you have to say.
We must be honest not only with our words, but also in how we act. In the business world today it is hard to be “politically correct” and not tell lies—little white lies, perhaps, but still lies. During one of my tenures as a store manager, one of the company policies was to cheat the vendors regarding damages. For instance, if we had an agreement with a particular vendor that we would accept a return for an item of theirs, we would charge them for that item—a cost-saving policy based on trust. However, the company that I work for directed us to charge back to those vendors more than what we had returned from the customers, adding profit to the store and company. I did not participate in this policy, and was later told that a promotion that I was hoping for did not materialize because I was not “more flexible” in such policies that drove additional revenue. But, again, consider the turmoil that this caused in a store environment. We actually directed our employees to cheat our vendors, and then we would terminate the same employees if they stole from our company. What a disaster! It must instead be our responsibility to act in such a way that the idea of being even slightly dishonest is unthinkable. The careers and lives of others are going to be affected if we do not. As Christians, we must be concerned with what is right, not who is right, and act accordingly. Ask God through prayer, and ask yourself, what is the right thing to do. Then, follow through on what that is, in spite of the consequences. Do not let yourself get caught up in who is right, or what the easiest thing to do. Do the right thing!

Proverbs 21:3
To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord that sacrifice.

Proverbs 22:1
A good name is more desirable that great riches, to be esteemed is better than silver or

Proverbs 19:11
A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

People need to know that what you say is true. They need to know that you can be trusted! This provides the foundation—the cornerstone—for quality communication. This is also the basis of a true relationship. Remember the saying, “If you always tell the truth you will never have to remember what you said!”

Saying and doing the right thing is what we should be doing as Christians, yet I get so tired of Christians with good intentions apologizing for doing what is right. Why do we apologize for standing up for our God? Let’s say some friends or co-workers ask you to go out and have a drink, or ask if you want to go in with them on a lottery ticket, or are engaging in profanity-laced banter. Why, in these instances, do we smile apologetically and say that something has come up or offer some other excuse? Why can’t we not just say, “I don’t drink,” or “I don’t play the lottery,” or “I don’t use coarse language?” Do we tell them that our God asks, in fact, commands, that we do not do these things, and, to the best of our abilities, we try not to? Telling others you are a Christian and then not conforming to the will of God represents a serious lack of integrity.

One of the biggest reasons why people say they do not come to church is that the people they meet in church are hypocrites. While this is certainly true in many cases, we should definitely do everything in our power for this not to be true for us. This starts by acting with honesty and integrity in every phase of our life. We must walk the talk! The phrase “Do as I say, and not as I do” does not apply to Christianity!

Listen to Jesus in Luke 12:1-3
Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples saying: ‘Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.2. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 3. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the housetops.

This is a very scary thought that all our words we ever said would be known to everyone.

Paul says in Ephesians 4:25…

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

When you profess to be a Christian, people will watch your actions and listen to what you say—they are all searching for God. Let your actions lead them to the true God worthy of our worship.