June 2nd Devotion

Why We Should Be Honest
By Aaron D’Anthony Brown

"But let your 'yes' mean 'yes,' and your 'no' mean 'no.' Anything more than this is from the evil one." Matthew 5:37

In Need of Honesty
Our culture needs honesty. The kind of honesty that speaks the truth, not my truth or yours. Not just outside of the church but inside the church too. We've all grown accustomed to affirmation, too used to agreement, and too sensitive toward conflict. As a result, our ability to be honest with one another has taken a backseat. We justify ourselves, believing that with less honesty, we can have richer and more plentiful relationships, but how authentic, how godly can any relationship be without honesty?

Are you an honest person? Many of us claim the title, but that doesn't stop us from calling everyone we know a friend, even when we've just met them, or stop us from hiding criticism from the person who sorely needs to hear it. Then there are those who tell basic, unadulterated lies to avoid consequences. The number of truly honest people is less than those who claim such, even among believers. Yet, as Christians, we should forever strive to ensure our self-perceptions match reality. Jesus says to His followers,

"But let your 'yes' mean 'yes,' and your 'no' mean 'no.' Anything more than this is from the evil one." (Matthew 5:37)

Today, we face the constant temptation of mixing our yes and no, all in an effort not to offend, get along, and make peace. We strive to stay on everyone's good side and stray away from saying anything that would be considered "judging." Not only does Scripture make judgments and call us to do the same, but Scripture admonishes us to make honest judgments. We call a spade a spade, a woman a woman, and nothing in between. God's word says that "Lying lips are detestable to the Lord" and that "faithful people are his delight" (Proverbs 12:22).

Jesus caused offense in His day. Jewish leaders, the Romans, and the Pharisees despised him. Society hated Jesus so much that He was crucified. Nonetheless, He spread the truth, knowing the consequences. His message continues today, and His teachings still offend now. We are called to live like Christ. Our lifestyles, our words, and our actions will offend. There will be consequences. That is the natural outcome when we live counter-culturally to the world. But through Christ, we know the full impact of honesty. Honesty has the potential to bring confrontation, hurt, and challenge, those things we are so desperate to avoid. Yet, honesty is what God desires from us. While there are drawbacks, there are a myriad of benefits as well, such as being faithful people that delight the Lord.

Intersecting Faith and Life:
Maybe you're looking to reevaluate your life and become more honest, but you're still on the fence about why we should be honest. Wisdom and reason have yet to convince. Or maybe you need motivation to overcome some dishonest habits. By pursuing this character trait, here are some benefits you can expect:

Connection with God
Without honesty, we keep ourselves from having an authentic relationship with God. Scripture talks about confessing our sins and praying to the Lord. Dishonesty prevents us from doing either effectively. Conversely, when we are honest, we connect with God more often and on a deeper level. We receive that forgiveness for our sins because we genuinely ask.

Stronger Relationships
Honesty can break relationships, but those that crumble are not rooted in shared faith and values. On the contrary, godly relationships benefit from honesty because everyone stays on the same page and is open to genuine affirmation and loving rebuke.

Discouragement of Sin
Without practicing honesty, we act as enablers of sin. There will come a time, multiple times when someone openly practicing sin will invite us in for affirmation, celebration, or even just tolerance. That invitation is a chance for us to be honest and call out the sin. This doesn't mean that we always make our opinions known, but this does mean that if asked, we give them the truth.

Building Character
Honesty builds the character of those we interact with and our own because it forms us into people of integrity. We practice the same things we preach. Moreover, honesty keeps us accountable to one another and God.

Making Changes
You can't change any problem in your life without first recognizing the problem. Honesty helps us diagnose, setting us up to identify potential solutions and loopholes leading back to the problem. Honesty allows us to initiate those changes in ourselves and others, sparking a change that affects one person, the community, and beyond. When we allow our yes to mean yes, and our no to mean no, we forfeit fear of the consequences, and we become better people as a result, people who delight the Lord.
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