This morning, I was thinking about personal honesty and the place that it plays in our overall sanctification. Anyone who has spent anytime reading Scripture knows that we are commanded to tell the truth to one another. “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another” Eph. 4:25. In being truthful we reflect the image of our Creator who is Himself the Truth. And so, it is obvious enough just from these observations that anything making us more Christlike will, by definition, be furthering us along the path of sanctification.
But just this morning I was struck by another way in which our truthfulness works toward our sanctification. There are various reasons why people lie but the particular situation that I have in mind is when a lie is used to hide an uncomfortable truth. I’m certain we have all been in a situation where we had done something, either intentionally or accidentally, that we were not supposed to do, and we simply hoped that no one would find out. But then, someone asked us about it. “Did you get that report done?”, “Do you know anything about that dint in the car?”, “Have you been eating chocolate?”
In these situations, we can fess up, admit where we were wrong and try to make amends… or we can lie. Now, by lying I don’t mean that we make up a complete fabrication. Sometimes people do that but it is much more common that we simply leave out certain unflattering facts or use one word to describe an event that sounds much better than a similar, but more accurate and less flattering, word. We may not say anything that is out-and-out false. Everything we say could be “technically” true and yet we present the facts in a manner that deceives.
If, in these situations, we “massage” the truth, then we not only sin against our neighbor by deceiving him but we hinder our own sanctification by creating a kind of hiding place for ungodly character, a dark corner that is shielded from the light. Rather than accepting the consequences for our actions and becoming more responsible, rather than facing the embarrassment of our failure and becoming more humble, rather than repenting and becoming more righteous, rather than creating an opportunity to receive forgiveness and becoming more grateful, rather than allowing the light to shine in on our life and becoming more Christlike, if we choose to lie, we create a hiding place for those flaws in our character from which the Holy Spirit desires to set us free.
But if we are committed to telling the truth, not only will we be crucifying our flesh in those moments when we are asked uncomfortable questions, but it will produce in us a greater diligence to do what is right in the future so that if questions arise we will have no fear of fully honest answers. If we remove the hiding place created by deceit then we will be forced to confront and, by the Holy Spirit, conquer those parts of ourselves we have not fully surrendered to Christ.
So, honesty itself is a virtue but it is a virtue that helps to grow in us other virtues by exposing all areas of our lives to the light.
“But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light.” Eph. 5:13-14