Honesty – The reflection of a pure heart
On the surface, honesty seems like a natural character trait that would be important to everyone. Why would it be considered a virtue? Why is honesty a largely uncommon attribute of a precious few people? Being honest is basic, why is it rare?
Because while honesty is implanted in the heart of each person created in the image of God and given the breath of life, and many people are basically honest – honesty has a fearsome enemy that is also resident in every life and wants to be king of the heart – the flesh.
The flesh is out for itself. It is selfish, it wants to be liked, it wants to get its way, it wants comfort and to preserve itself at whatever cost. The flesh is the enemy of every virtue but it’s primary focus is to crush honesty so all manner of deception can take its place.
To get its way, our flesh wields a powerful, effective weapon – the lie. Lying is thought of, by our flesh, to be perfectly normal behavior. Lying is speaking things that are not true, it is saying things about others and situations that are not true. Presenting ourselves in ways that aren’t true is lying as is deceiving others purposefully or withholding all or part of the truth.
And all these nuances of lying can be perpetrated publicly, socially misrepresenting yourself or a situation, or they can be internalized, lying to yourself about something you need to acknowledge (denial), portraying false strength when you are weak, or even pure hearted and repentant because you know that is what people want to see – even when it is a lie.
Even supposed good people, religious people, like the scribes and Pharisees, were not what they appeared to be, but hypocrites that appear to be righteous on the outside but inside were full of vile thoughts and evil (Matthew 23: 25-28).
God hates lying. One of the Ten Commandments forbids it (Exodus 20:16). In the familiar passage in Proverbs listing the “seven things which are an abomination to God”, lying makes the list twice! (Proverbs 6:16-19).
So a life that is honest, truthful, trustworthy and not projecting an image of itself that is false, is rare. It is not expedient or gainful for the flesh, so it is held in esteem only by those who depend on the honesty of others (the defendant, the abused, the vulnerable and poor,) and in an unseen realm where God looks at human hearts seeking purity and truth.
Don’t fall in with the fools, dear one. Their acceptance is a trap. Beauty, love, truth and grace in life is found among the honest and pure of heart. Those that speak the truth in love and never twist a situation for personal gain. Be honest and you never have to worry about being caught in a lie. In your honesty God will defend you and never leave your side.
The flesh will always be with you, always testing your heart, so you must cultivate honesty deeply into the soil of your life. Ultimately, the adversarial flesh, through disciplines of fasting and prayer, will take its rightful place in your life in service to soul and spirit making your body, truly, a temple of the Holy Spirit. It will be a lifelong fight, but living every day in honesty will lead to certain victory in Christ.