This is the first time I’ve done this, so who knows what will flow from my fingertips as I type! Here is the quote Lynnette chose:
“Friends, if we be honest with ourselves, we shall be honest with each other.€
We’ve all heard the cliche’ “Honesty is the best policy”. And although, most of us agree with this statement, many of us hesitate when it comes to being honest with one another.
Why? Because honesty hurts.
There’s no real way around it. Honesty, by its very nature, is something that usually goes against the grain. It is rarely something that comes easily. It is often difficult for both the truth-teller and the truth-receiver. It takes willingness, courage, conviction, integrity, a slow tongue, and a teachable spirit for honesty to be fully realized.
Now, there are those who in the name of honesty, go around telling everyone what they think of everything. More often than not, these people are blunt and downright rude. They are critical of everyone except themselves. Is this true honesty?
I don’t think it is. I believe true honesty embodies all the attributes I listed above for BOTH the bearer and hearer.
Willingness: This is not a hard one for those who “go around from house to house.” However, their willingness is ill-intentioned and it is their ill-intentions that cause the hearer to in turn be unwilling to hear. A person who is perpetually critical loses credibility rather quickly.
Courage: Someone who uses honesty properly and Biblically will find they need quite a bit of courage to open their mouths and speak truth. They will think twice before purposely inflicting the pain that honesty tends to cause. They will bathe their words in prayer and ask that the Holy Spirit go ahead of them. The hearer must also have courage to hear, not just listen, but truly hear. They must fight the urge to shut their ears or become defensive. This takes tremendous courage.
Conviction: The bearer has to believe that what they are saying is truth. If for one moment they waiver, honesty is lost. Likewise, the hearer must believe that honesty is important.
Integrity: As I mentioned in the section on Willingness, you can make or break your attempt at being honest with someone by your track record. Does your hearer see you as critical of everything? Or do they know you to be someone who lives honestly themselves and would never purposely try to hurt someone. The hearer must also be a person of integrity to truly grasp honesty. It is very difficult for someone who cares little for that which is upright to care for your attempt at providing an honest answer.
A Slow Tongue: “But no one can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:8) That right there says it all. If the bearer is quick-tongued, they might as well be shooting poison darts. And if the hearer is quick-tongued, they will have nothing but defensive words to offer. Both will eventually regret the evil this tiny muscle managed to invoke.
A Teachable Spirit: This is key, and the attribute that best embodies the quote. The person offering honesty must themselves be willing to hear honesty. They must be able to take the plank from their own eye before running off to tweazer out their neighbor’s eye. They have to examine themselves and they have to be willing to lay their own faults on the line. How much sweeter this bitter pill of honesty is when the person who is being honest is also honest about their own shortcomings, flaws, and needs for correction. And of course, the receiver of honesty must have a teachable spirit otherwise you cast pearls at swine.
Being honest with others has a price. Being honest with ourselves has a price. It is very difficult to look ourselves in the eye (figuratively and literally!) How do we take constructive criticism? Are we teachable and introspective? Are we quick-tongued and defensive when met with honesty from others? Are we choosing our words wisely? Are we backing them with Scripture? What are our motives for being honest with one another? These (and many more) are all questions we must ask ourselves before ever opening our mouths. Honesty must start from within before it can ever live peaceably among us.