Honesty Pays

By Ronnie Lowe

Honesty pays! God described the prophet Job in this fashion: “there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8). Satan then set out to prove God wrong and destroy the integrity of Job. He went after Job with a vengeance. In a series of tragic events, Job lost his possessions, his servants and all his children. Yet God said to Satan, “And still he holds fast to his integrity” (Job 2:3).

Satan again moved against him afflicting him. “Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head” (Job 2:7). His condition was so bad that his own wife in seeing his terrible condition encouraged him to curse God for allowing these terrible things to happen, and die (Job 2:9). But Job stood firm and remained loyal through it all.

Job's three closest friends entered upon the scene. They had some harsh things to say about Job. they accused him of having committed horrible sins for which he was now being punished. Yet Job knew he was an upright man. His response was “As long as my breath is in me, and the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit. Far be it from me that I should say you are right; till I die I will not put away my integrity from me” (Job 27:3-5). Job knew the value of truthfulness. As a result of his honesty, God “blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” (Job 42:12).

Honesty pays! Honesty may have its price, but so does dishonesty. Dishonesty may seem profitable for the moment, but how much emotional stress does it produce over the passing of time? You can be assured that your sins (and lying is a sin) will find you out (Numbers 32:23). Have you ever noticed that when you tell one lie, you must tell still more lies to cover up the first? Lives, both ours and others, can be destroyed through a lack of honesty.

A wise teacher used to always tell his class, before giving them a test, “I am giving you two tests today--one in mathematics and one in honesty. I hope you pass both of them. But if you can pass only one, be sure it is the test of honesty. There are a lot of good men who do not know mathematics, but there are no good men who are not honest.” Honesty pays!

Many people, and even some religions, think that lying is acceptable, especially under certain circumstances. But the Old Law was plain: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16). The Law further stated, “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another” (Leviticus 19:11).

God’s feelings toward such behavior are clearly stated: “He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; he who tells lies shall not continue in my presence” (Psalm 101:7). “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight” (Proverbs 12:22). We find seven things God hates listed in Proverbs 6. Two of them involve lying, “a lying tongue” (vs. 17), and “a false witness who speaks lies” (vs. 19).

Jesus warns us to be careful how and what we speak. “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37).

In spite of all this, many people think that it is permissible to lie under certain circumstances. Yet Revelation 21:8 states, “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” God does not separate one lie from another in the judgment. We will give an account for every word said in this life.

We must not only be honest in our words, but in our dealings with men. We are to do “honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men” (2 Corinthians 8:21). Solomon reminds us that “Diverse [different] weights and diverse measures, they are both alike, an abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 20:11). We must not deal falsely with others in our business dealings. “Getting treasures by a lying tongue is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death” (Proverbs 21:6). Deceitful dealings often return to harm us, as Solomon wrote, “Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel” (Proverbs 20:17).

A man cannot be honest with others unless he is first honest with himself. Before he tries to deceive someone else, he must deceive himself into believing it is profitable to deceive others. In harmony with the truth of the Bible, Shakespeare wrote:

". . . to thine own self be true,

And it must follow as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man."

We must strive to be men and women, boys and girls of integrity and truthfulness. Honesty pays! Remember: “He who walks with integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will become known” (Proverbs 10:9).