HONESTY IN SPEECH
Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.
Question: Since dishonesty in speech is so prevalent in the world today, how are Christians to regulate their speech? If we always need to be honest, are we not put at a disadvantage?
Answer: Dishonesty in speech is common today, and this condition may at times seem to work to our disadvantage as Christians. However, let us base our standard upon God’s Word, which puts a premium upon honesty:
Isaiah 63: 8: “Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour.” If we are careful to be truthful, we will not lie.
In Matthew 5: 37, Jesus said, “Let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” When we say something, it should be true, unless we let our hearers know that it is untrue. When we say either “yes” or “no,” people should be able to depend on our word, and there should be no need to add an oath to what we have said.
Ephesians 4: 25 reads: “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour,” and Colossians 3: 9 says, “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds.” There is no such thing as a “white lie” – all lies are black or gray. Also, “stretching the truth” is an exaggeration, another form of lying.
Eventually all those who have developed and maintained a lying disposition will go into the Second Death, eternal annihilation (Revelation 21: 8).
But let us guard against some mistaken views of honesty. One view says that we may speak anything that is true, simply because of its truthfulness. This is not just, especially if it would hurt someone needlessly. Similarly, it would not be wise to discuss truths too difficult for others to absorb. Silence or tactfulness at times needs to govern. Also, some feel bound to answer every question that someone may ask them, but again, there are no rules of honesty that require this. An exception to the above cases is that if by keeping back information, injury to others would result. The Golden Rule should govern all of our dealings with others, at all times (Ecclesiastics 3: 7; Matthew 7: 12).
Though honesty may occasionally work disadvantageously to us in our temporal affairs, the advantage to our spiritual lives is far greater (Psalm 19: 14).