Honesty – living a life of integrity

Is it important to be honest? In today’s society honesty and integrity are difficult to find. Society rationalises dishonesty – it is considered as something necessary to get by in this world.

Lying destroys integrity

Lies will soon be detected and the liar is deceiving himself to think otherwise.

A case study of a liar

Consider this incident that took place about 3,000 years ago. It concerns the Israelite King Saul and the prophet Samuel:

Samuel said to Saul, "I am the one the LORD sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the LORD. This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.' " 
So Saul summoned the men and mustered them at Telaim—two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand men from Judah. 
Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, to the east of Egypt. He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totaly destroyed with the sword. But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed. 
Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: "I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions." Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the LORD all that night. 
Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, "Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal." When Samuel reached him, Saul said, "The LORD bless you! I have carried out the LORD's instructions." But Samuel said, "What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?" (1 Samuel Ch.15: 1-14)

Saul thought that he had won a great victory over the Amalekites, but God saw it as a great failure because Saul had disobeyed him and then lied to Samuel about the results of the battle. Saul may have thought his lie wouldn’t be detected, or that what he did was not wrong. Saul was deceiving himself.

Truth stands the test of time; lies are soon exposed. (Proverbs 12:19) The Living Bible

Dishonest people soon begin to believe the lies they build around themselves. Then they start to lose the ability to tell the difference between truth and lies. By believing your own lies you are deceiving yourself. But you also alienate yourself from God, and you lose credibility in all your relationships with other people. If you lie to other people then their perception of your integrity drops to a low level. In the long run, honesty always wins out.

People who tell many lies in their life can be like a huge rock towering over them which one day will collapse when their lies are discovered.
Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No," no, or you will be condemned. (James 5:12)

A person with a reputation for exaggeration or lying often can’t get anyone to believe him on his word alone. You should never become like that. Always be honest so that others will believe your simple yes or no. By avoiding lies, half-truths, and omissions of the truth, you will become known as a trustworthy person.

Lies can lead to injustice

When you want to please or impress someone, it is tempting to lie to make yourself look good. You may think it is easier to tell the other person what they want to hear. Sometimes telling the truth can lead to someone doing something terrible to you. Obeying God (not telling lies), doesn’t always protect us from evil consequences. Obedience may, in fact, provoke them. But it is better to suffer from man’s displeasure than from God’s wrath.

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew CH.10:28)

If you are ridiculed for being honest, remember that this can be a sign that you indeed doing what is right in God’s eyes

Lying undermines your unity with others

Lying to those you associate with (friends, relations, work colleagues, etc) disrupts unity by creating conflict and destroying trust.

Stop lying to each other; tell the truth, for we are parts of each other and when we lie to each other we are hurting ourselves. (Ephesians Ch.4:25) The Living Bible

There are many cases where deceit and honesty have ruined families. A family is only as strong as the level of honesty between its members.

Different levels of dishonesty

Quite often people argue that “white lies” (small-scale dishonesty) is not a problem like full lying. The Bible does not say there is any difference.

No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence. (Psalm 101:7)

Jesus says that deceit is one of many evil things which will defile someone.

"What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. (Mark 7:20-22)

Sometimes you hear of a person paying money to someone else for a favour. This is what is known as bribery. God does not want this to happen.

LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous,    who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, …..and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken. (Psalm 15:1-5)
Honesty and God

God makes it very clear in various parts of the Bible that telling lies is a sin.

The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful. (Proverbs Ch.12:22)

Dishonest actions are also criticised by God.

" 'Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity. Use honest scales and honest weights, an honest ephah [a] and an honest hin. [b] I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt. (Leviticus Ch.19:35-36)

Liars will not be allowed in the kingdom of God.

Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Revelation Ch.22:15)

There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,

a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. (Proverbs Ch.6:16-19)

God asks us to have a character which upholds the highest standards of honesty. We can display this on a daily basis by being open and honest with each other.


[a] Leviticus 19:36 An ephah was a dry measure of grain equal to about 22 litres.

[b] Leviticus 19:36 A hin was a liquid measure equal to about 4 litres.