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Posts tagged ‘Honesty’

Honesty – Being Honest with God

Honesty 2This psalm may have been written to celebrate moving the Ark of the Covenant from Obededom’s house to Jerusalem – 2 Samuel 6:10-12.

Tradition says that this psalm was sung on the first day of each week in the Temple services.

We focus today on the verses that tell who is worthy to join in such a celebration of worship.

Interact with God’s Word

Psalm 24:3-6

  1. What qualifications are stated in verse 4 for being a worshipper whom God accepts?
  2. In what way would dishonesty contaminate a heart?
  3. What could complete truthfulness cost you in terms of entitlements, comfort level, or how you are perceived?
  4. How does deceiving others lead to self-deception?
  5. Why is God unable to hear you or speak to you if you are building a wall of self-deception?
  6. What is promised (v. 5) to those who keep their hands and hearts pure?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Lord, I realize that unless I am absolutely honest, a relationship with You is impossible. Please help me to strip away all pretense in my life.

Psalm 24:3-6

3Who may climb the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? 4Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies.

5They will receive the LORD’s blessing and have right standing with God their savior. 6They alone may enter God’s presence and worship the God of Israel.


Prayer for the Week:  Because You are absolute truth, Lord, give me the courage to adhere to Your standard.


Honesty – Truth and Consequences

Honesty 2Key Bible Verse: We can say with … a clear conscience that we have been honest and sincere in all our dealings. 2 Corinthians 1:12

Bonus Reading:  Psalm 24:3-6

A couple of years ago a man in my congregation sold his business in order to run for political office. He wanted to invest his life in making a difference in the world.

Though it was John’s first political campaign, he won the election handily. His introduction to California politics wasn’t altogether friendly, however.

As he began to serve in his elected capacity, he soon found himself in trouble with powerful political operatives.

How did he get into this fix? By telling the truth as he saw it, rejecting the “make nice” compromises of political expediency. Before long John faced a stark decision, either to continue to speak truthfully and put his political future at risk or to bend the truth and become “one of the boys.”

When I met with John, he’d decided which course to take, but he wanted some pastoral encouragement. “If I stick with the truth,” he explained, “it might very well be the end of my career in politics. But I need to do what’s right and leave the results to the Lord.”

John’s confidence in God gave him the strength to uphold the truth. The fact of God’s sovereignty and love emboldened him to be truthful in an arena where, sadly, truth is so often lacking.

—Mark Roberts in Dare to Be True

My Response: I’ll commit to live the truth, and ask God to take care of the consequences.

Thought to Apply: When I lay down the reins of this administration, I want to have one friend left. And that friend is inside myself.—Abraham Lincoln (16th U.S. President)

Adapted from Dare to Be True (WaterBrook, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: Because You are absolute truth, Lord, give me the courage to adhere to Your standard.


Honesty – Broken Barrier

Honesty 2Key Bible Verse: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33

Bonus Reading:  Psalm 36:1-3

Employees who watch their boss or leader be dishonest to a supplier become uneasy about their job security.

I recently heard about a situation a person found himself in. “I was talking to our president and some other people on the executive team after some difficult negotiations with a major supplier, and I wasn’t comfortable with how it had gone. One of the vice presidents had lied to the supplier to get the price down. I don’t remember my exact words, but I put it as diplomatically as I knew how that I wasn’t comfortable with that, and that it could undermine our relationship with the supplier.

“The president rolled his eyes and laughed. ‘Look at Jack! He’s shocked, shocked, that we sometimes tell stories to suppliers!’

“Everyone laughed, and someone said, ‘Grow up, Jack.’

“Well, I turned red, but I remember thinking, If they are willing to lie to suppliers, why not employees? I never trusted the executive team after that.”

When we break an ethical barrier, it is just like breaking a pane of glass: it’s gone; it does not exist anymore. Not only do people within our organizations begin to mistrust, but also they begin setting their own moral bar lower. The “broken glass” can’t be repaired to look flawless.

—Wayde Goodall in Why Great Men Fall

My Response: How could I help raise the moral bar where I work?

Thought to Apply: He that once deceives is ever suspected.—George Herbert (English poet & priest)

Adapted from Why Great Men Fall (New Leaf, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Because You are absolute truth, Lord, give me the courage to adhere to Your standard.


Honesty – End-of-the-Tunnel Light?

Honesty 2Key Bible Verse: They say to themselves, “Nothing bad will ever happen to us! We will be free of trouble forever!”Psalm 10:6

Bonus Reading:  2 Chronicles 18:3-22

In early 1968, the Commandant of the Marine Corps came to Danang for a visit, and I was assigned to the briefing team.

A colonel called me aside and suggested, “Tell him about the MiGs you encountered over Hanoi.” I answered “Well, you know, I never really encountered any myself.” He quickly replied with a note of consternation in his voice, “Well, somebody encountered them, so you’re the person who needs to talk about them.”

He added another subject: “Make sure you tell the Commandant about evasive maneuvers when multiple surface-to-air missiles were sent your way.” Again I felt obliged to reply, “I never had more than a single surface-to-air missile come my way at one time.” He was having a hard time making his point. “Yes, but there were other people who must have had SAMs shot at them in multiple configurations. Tell them about that.”

That briefing, and the not-so-subtle shift from what was factually correct, became a microcosm of the entire war. As the war went on, sometimes supported by little lies and sometimes by a total absence of truth, we lost faith in reality. We lost that faith because no one had the courage to tell the truth.

—Robert Seiple in Ambassadors of Hope

My Response: In what settings do I find truth elusive?

Thought to Apply: So long as we are able to distinguish any space whatever between the truth and us, we remain outside it.—HENRI AMIEL (Swiss philosopher)

Adapted from Ambassadors of Hope (InterVarsity, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: Because You are absolute truth, Lord, give me the courage to adhere to Your standard.


Honesty – Check-in Checkup

Honesty 2Key Bible Verse: For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. But you desire honesty from the heart.  –  Psalm 51:5-6

Bonus Reading: Jeremiah 9:3-9

I arrived late at the airport only to discover that I’d forgotten to refuel the rental car. That really shouldn’t have been a problem since the rental company will gladly refuel the car for about $4.00 a gallon.

But when the agent at the check-in counter asked me if I had refueled the car, I lied, or at least I used the “truth” to deceive. Instead of simply answering no, I said, “The fuel gauge is registering full.”

Without looking up from her paperwork she asked, “Do you have a receipt for the gasoline?”

Once again I had an opportunity to do the right thing. All I had to was tell her that I had not refueled the car. Instead, I simply said, “No.” She must have have sensed I wasn’t being completely truthful because she pressed me. “What,” she asked, “was the name of the gasoline station where you refueled the car?”

This time I didn’t even pretend to tell the truth. “I don’t remember,” I mumbled as I turned away and walked toward the concourse. I could feel her eyes boring into me, but I didn’t look back. Such duplicity! Such deceit! And for what? Less than ten dollars worth of gasoline.

—Richard Exley in Man of Valor

My Response: How have I cultivated or suppressed a God-honoring conscience?

Thought to Apply: A truth that’s told with bad intent / Beats all the lies you can invent.—William Blake (English artist & writer)

Adapted from Man of Valor (White Stone Books, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Because You are absolute truth, Lord, give me the courage to adhere to Your standard.


Honesty – Technically True

Honesty 200Key Bible Verse: Our responsibility is never to oppose the truth, but to stand for the truth at all times.  2 Corinthians 13:8

Bonus Reading: Jeremiah 17:9-10

During graduate school, I managed a center that offered tutoring to students preparing to take standardized exams. Part of my job was to promote our program. The best promotion was to showcase the improved test scores of our clients—improvements we could demonstrate.

Most of our students showed a significant gain on the SAT—an average of 120 points among those whose scores improved. However, a few students actually received lower scores!

If my promotional material spoke of the average improvement, rather than the average overall change, I could eliminate the scores of the students who didn’t improve. However, if I took them into account, the average student improved by only 90 points.

I faced a dilemma. If I spoke of average improvement, I was putting a deceptive spin on the truth. I’m sad to say that I failed to renounce the trickery of this world. I stated the literal truth—”the average improvement after taking our class is 120 points”—in a way that led people to believe that the average student increased his or her score by that margin.

Our promotional literature escaped an outright lie, but it didn’t tell the complete truth.

—Mark Roberts in the Dare to Be True

My Response: From what deceptive spin do I need to distance myself?

Adapted from Dare to Be True (WaterBrook, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: Because You are absolute truth, Lord, give me the courage to adhere to Your standard.


Honesty – Burying His Hatchet

Honesty 200Who Said It…Chuck Colson

Chuck Colson, a tough marine turned Richard Nixon’s “hatchet man,” was converted as the Watergate scandal closed in on the President’s inner circle. Skeptics saw this as a devious ploy. When an interviewer questioned his conversion, Colson said the evidence would be his life ten years later. The then second-most hated man in America is now the softened, forgiveness-seeking founder of Prison Fellowship.

What He Said…Burying His Hatchet

After fighting to prove his innocence, Colson’s born-again conscience led him to change course. An offered plea bargain was designed to let him off with probation. But he rejected it because he’d have to testify that he ordered a break-in at the offices of psychiatrist Daniel Ellsberg—something he hadn’t done.

But God helped him to see that his lack of direct involvement in the break-in was pure happenstance. He’d obtained the money to pay for a covert operation against Ellsberg, and tried to smear him in the press. So Colson told his law-firm partner, David Shapiro, that he’d decided to plead guilty to disseminating derogatory information to the press about Ellsberg while he was a criminal defendant.

“It’s not a crime!” retorted Shapiro. “No one’s ever been charged with that.”

Colson said that the prosecutor might accept it as an obstruction of justice charge.

“You’re an idiot,” shouted Shapiro. “You’re going to end up in the slammer.”

“I know,” was the soft answer.

Adapted from Charles W. Colson: A Life Redeemed (WaterBrook, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Because You are absolute truth, Lord, give me the courage to adhere to Your standard.


Spurn Spin – Honesty

HonestyWas Paul’s change in travel plans dishonest or fickle?

No, he explains. During a brief, painful visit to the church in Corinth, he’d told them when he planned to return. By then, he’d assumed, the church would have resolved its disunity.

When the time came for Paul’s scheduled return trip, however, the crisis hadn’t been fully resolved. Fearing that another visit just then might aggravate things, he decided to bypass Corinth and reschedule his visit.

Interact with God’s Word: 2 Corinthians 1:12-14, 17-19a, 23

  1. What two criticisms about bypassing Corinth (v. 17) does Paul anticipate or respond to?
  2. How does he characterize how “people of the world” make commitments?
  3. Why does Paul say (v. 18) he makes sure his word is reliable?
  4. What does Paul tell the Corinth church (v. 23) is the reason for putting off his visit?
  5. How does adding the sincerity element (v. 12) set the bar higher than technical honesty alone?
  6. How does Paul’s assertion that “there is nothing written between the lines” in his letters (v.13) flesh out what straightforward communication involves?
  7. Can you match Paul’s confidence and clear conscience (v. 12) about your own talk?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God to help you filter spin out of your conversation so that it becomes transparently truthful.

2 Corinthians 1:12-14, 17-19a, 23

12 We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have been honest and sincere in all our dealings. We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own earthly wisdom. That is how we have acted toward everyone, and especially toward you. 13 My letters have been straightforward, and there is nothing written between the lines and nothing you can’t understand. I hope someday you will fully understand us, 14 even if you don’t fully understand us now. Then on the day when our Lord Jesus comes back again, you will be proud of us in the same way we are proud of you.

17 You may be asking why I changed my plan. Hadn’t I made up my mind yet? Or am I like people of the world who say yes when they really mean no? 18 As surely as God is true, I am not that sort of person. My yes means yes 19 because Jesus Christ, the Son of God, never wavers between yes and no. He is the one whom Timothy, Silas, and I preached to you, and he is the divine Yes–God’s affirmation.

23 Now I call upon God as my witness that I am telling the truth. The reason I didn’t return to Corinth was to spare you from a severe rebuke.

Prayer for the Week:  I realize, Lord, that You desire honesty from the heart.  But I kid myself and fudge the truth to impress others.  Help me to change.


Spurn Spin – Polite Prevarication

HonestyKey Bible Verse: Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old evil nature and all its wicked deeds.  – Colossians 3:9

Bonus Reading:  Jeremiah 9:3-9

When I started to scrutinize my own behavior, I was amazed—even horrified—by how often I was tempted to lie and by how often I did lie before I could stop myself.

For instance, seeing an old friend, I said, “Oh, it’s good to see you. I’ve been thinking about you so much recently.” In truth, I’d thought about this friend for only a fleeting moment a few days before our chance meeting. “So much” was more than an exaggeration; it was a lie that slipped out before I could catch it.

I know I’m not alone. Christians find it all too easy to say things such as “I’ve been praying for you” when they really haven’t been.

Or their excuses for declining an invitation leave truth in the dust. “I’m sorry, I have another engagement” sounds so much better than “I really prefer not to have dinner with you.”

Lying pervades our society. We may have become so accustomed to truth twisting that we don’t recognize the tendency until we shine the piercing light of Scripture on our lives.

If over the next few days you pay close attention to your interactions with others, odds are you’ll find yourself struggling to be fully honest.

—Mark Roberts in Dare to Be True

My Response: This weekend I’ll monitor how much my words compromise the truth.

Thought to Apply: When you add to the truth, you subtract from it.—Talmud

Adapted from Dare to Be True (WaterBrook, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: I realize, Lord, that You desire honesty from the heart. But I kid myself and fudge the truth to impress others. Help me to change.

Spurn Spin – Contagious Candor

HonestyKey Bible Verse: In the end, people appreciate frankness more than flattery.  – Proverbs 28:23

Bonus Reading:  2 Corinthians 1:12-14, 17-19a, 23

After I preached on spurning spin, Steve promised himself and God that he would no longer place blame elsewhere to excuse his own behavior. A few days later, he told me, he failed to allow enough driving time to make it to a meeting.

Arriving 20 minutes after the meeting began, he took his seat and apologized. “I’m sorry I’m late,” he began. “I can only blame my own poor choices. I didn’t allow enough time to get here. Please forgive me.”

His honesty stunned everyone in the room. Finally, the meeting leader said, “Well, I’m sorry you’re late too, but thanks for being honest about why. That’s the kind of openness we need in this meeting.”

A lively conversation on the benefits of greater honesty in their business ensued. Then another person entered the room out of breath, offering the usual blame-everything-else kind of excuse. The others laughed because this man’s spin looked foolish in light of Steve’s gutsy honesty.

Steve said that the quality of conversation for the rest of the meeting was unusually frank. The same tone continued in the days that followed. His renunciation of spin was contagious and transformed the work environment.

—Mark Roberts in Dare to Be True

My Response: Have I found telling the frank truth more often resented or appreciated?

Thought to Apply: Nothing more completely baffles one who is full of tricks and duplicity than straightforward and simple integrity in another.—Charles Caleb Colton

Adapted from Dare to Be True (WaterBrook, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: I realize, Lord, that You desire honesty from the heart. But I kid myself and fudge the truth to impress others. Help me to change.

Spurn Spin – Ends and Means

HonestyKey Bible Verse: I speak the truth and hate every kind of deception. … There is nothing crooked or twisted. Proverbs 8:7-8

Bonus Reading:  1 Thessalonians 2:1-5

At the church college group I began attending as a freshman, the college pastor delivered a stirring message on sharing the gospel with our friends. Then he passed out a “Religious Interest Survey” that featured a series of questions leading up to the clincher: “What do you believe about Jesus?” He urged us to use it to poll students in our dorms, then invited questions.

“What’s the deadline for getting these surveys back to you?” I asked.

The pastor responded with a chuckle, “Oh, don’t worry about that. We aren’t going to tabulate the results. This is simply a way to get people talking about Jesus.”

“But if we tell people this is a survey,” I followed up nervously, “aren’t we implying that we actually care about their answers? Is it honest to call this a survey when we’re not really surveying what people think?”

“Look,” he replied with a touch of irritation, “it’s a survey; we’re just not tabulating the answers. Lots of businesses and churches do things like this. It’s just a conversation starter. If you don’t want to do it, you don’t have to.”

I didn’t take any “surveys” back to campus. Nor did I return to that college group.

—Mark Roberts in Dare to Be True

My Response: Where am I expected to bend the truth? Have I gone along?

Thought to Apply: Some people live their whole lives just around the corner from the world of truth. —CARL F. H. HENRY (journalist, theologian)

Adapted from Dare to Be True (WaterBrook, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: I realize, Lord, that You desire honesty from the heart. But I kid myself and fudge the truth to impress others. Help me to change.

Spurn Spin – Lying Lips, Quivering Knees

HonestyKey Bible Verse: Truth stands the test of time; lies are soon exposed. Proverbs 12:19

Bonus Reading:  John 8:31-36

During my mid-twenties, when people asked me if I played any sports in high school, I’d always say, “Yeah, I ran track and played soccer.” Technically, that was true. I’d run around the track and I did play soccer—in P.E. class. I was never on either the soccer or track team at good ol’ Tucker High school.

But somewhere along the way I’d begun believing that a real, respectable, worthwhile man had to have accomplished something athletically. Every time I told that lie, I felt terrible and vowed not to repeat it. But I couldn’t bring myself to look somebody in the eye and say, “No, I never participated in a team sport.”

Finally, during my third year in seminary, of all places, I was forced to deal with this character flaw. A friend of mine rushed up to me at church and said he had some great news: he thought because of my athletic experience he could work it out for me to become chaplain for the SMU football team. My heart sank down into my socks. My friend was thrilled. And I felt like throwing up.

That’s when I knew I had a real problem. After a week of real soul searching, I got busy replacing those lies with truth, and soon I was free.

—Andy Stanley in Louder than Words

My Response: From what entangling deception do I need to break free?

Thought to Apply: You didn’t tell a lie, you just left a big hole in the truth.—Helen Thomas (journalist)

Adapted from Louder than Words (Multnomah, 2004)

Prayer for the Week:  I realize, Lord, that You desire honesty from the heart. But I kid myself and fudge the truth to impress others. Help me to change.

Spurn Spin – Out for a Spin

HonestyKey Bible Verse:  So put away all falsehood and “tell your neighbor the truth” because we belong to each other. Ephesians 4:25

Bonus Reading:  Zechariah 8:16-17

When my high-school friend Mike first received his driver’s license, his mom allowed him to use her car but forbade him to drive on the freeway. But Mike and I were convinced that we knew better than his mother, and bravely challenged the California freeways.

Knowing that his mom might question us about Mike’s driving, however, we crafted a brilliant spin on our behavior. Sure enough, after one of our illicit road trips, his mom asked bluntly, “Mike, did you drive on the freeway today?”

Without hesitation and with a hurt tone in his voice, Mike answered. “Mom, I know the rules. Of course I drove on the surface streets.” As he spoke, I nodded fervently. (Mike did know the rules and we had driven on the surface streets—on our way to the freeway.)

The combination of Mike’s earnest testimony and my bobbing head duped Mike’s mom. She apologized for questioning his integrity, and Mike avoided losing his driving privileges.

We didn’t tell an outright lie, but fabricated a deceptive half-truth. This was spin, pure and simple, because we intended to mislead, while failing to confess the truth that deserved to be spoken.

—Mark Roberts in Dare to Be True

My Response: Have I recently spun the truth for self–protection or self–promotion?

Adapted from Dare to Be True (WaterBrook, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: I realize, Lord, that You desire honesty from the heart. But I kid myself and fudge the truth to impress others. Help me to change.

Spurn Spin – Here’s the Pitch

HonestyWho Said It…Mark Roberts

Mark has been senior pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church in Irvine, California for 14 years.  Before that he was education pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. Dr. Roberts’s degrees are from Harvard University.

Mark is an active blogger (  He enjoys hanging out with his wife Linda and their two children, biking, and playing “home improvement” around the house.

What He Said…Here’s the Pitch

As a major league pitcher puts spin on a curve ball to confuse a batter, so the verbal spinner twists the truth to keep the listener off balance.

Spin, said former CNN Crossfire host Bill Press, is hard to define. “It’s not the truth. Neither is it a lie. Spin lies somewhere in between: almost telling the truth, but not quite; bending the truth to make things look as good—or as bad—as possible; painting things in the best—or worst—possible light.”

We can’t escape spin. Politicians spin their positions. Advertisers spin their products. Coaches spin their losses. Students spin their low grades. Spouses spin their marital messes. Corporate executives spin their bottom lines. Employees spin their mistakes.

Most of us can spin with the best of them, saying things that are true in some sense, but not speaking the full truth that ought to be spoken. And we excuse our lack of truthfulness or even congratulate ourselves on our cleverness.

Adapted from Dare to Be True (WaterBrook, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: I realize, Lord, that You desire honesty from the heart. But I kid myself and fudge the truth to impress others. Help me to change.