If you’ve read Auntie Em’s Guide to Life, you know that the #1 rule is to BE HONEST. Honest with yourself- honest with others. This seems like a no-brainer to me, but so many people don’t follow this rule, and the results can be disastrous. Here’s what the Guide to Life says about being honest. Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things. Who can understand it?” Surely everyone knows your life will be easier if you are honest with other people. (Who can remember what they told to whom? Not me!) The trick is to be honest with yourself. People were fooling themselves back in Jeremiah’s day and we are still doing it. Have you seen women of a certain age wearing Spandex when they shouldn’t? Singers on American Idol who thought they were good? What about teachers who make a big to-do list at the beginning of summer, and when school starts, it’s still undone? (OUCH!) Deceiving ourselves can go from the frivolous (like Spandex or size 6) to much more important issues, like our weight’s effect on our health, or addictions, or bad relationships. Once you uncover your warts– a painful process– you can deal with them honestly. You might decide to still eat the brownies. But you’ll do it with open eyes.
Some really smart people agree with me, though there were a surprising number of quotes talking about honesty being a bad thing when I googled “quotes about honesty”! I’m putting all the quotes at the bottom in case you are in a hurry!
Disclaimer: I’m not talking about the kind of no-filter, whatever-you-think-is-what-comes-out-of-your-mouth honesty. (“I just say what I think. I’m just being honest!” You’re just being a loud-mouthed buttinsky that hurts more than helps. Zip it.)
I think most people would agree that chronic lying to stir up trouble is a bad thing, and wonder what would cause someone to do that? I personally know a woman who habitually told different lies to different family members, counting on them not to compare stories. When, after years of dysfunction, they finally did, it was a huge hurtful mess which she couldn’t deal with. Surely this kind of dishonesty is uncommon. But I’ve seen a less obvious, more insidious kind.
I bet if you ask, most people will tell you that they are honest. What I’ve experienced, though, is that when people cross certain lines- economic, social, positional, etc.- then lies don’t seem to count. Good, reliable students have been known to lie to teachers and administrators. (My last period teacher held me after class.) Practicing Christians who say they live godly lives lie to policemen. (I didn’t see the sign!) Parents lie to their children’s teachers. (We don’t allow that kind of behavior or language at home!)
The problem is that it’s all still lying. Even if you take the spiritual aspect away, the moral problem is still there. (I don’t really think you can have moral issues apart from spiritual ones, but that’s another story!) When your kids see you return something you wore once and you tell the clerk it didn’t fit, they hear the lie. And then when you tell them not to lie to you, they don’t get it. When there is a disconnect from what we believe is right and what we actually do, there is an uncomfortable dissonance in our souls, and it’s a big cause of mental and emotional stress.
Right here in Presidential election season, dishonesty is hitting a high point. (low point?) I have really gotten to the point where I take EVERYTHING that ANY politician says with a grain of salt. You know Mark Twain said there are “Lies, damn lies, and statistics” — I know they can skew any poll to reflect what they want it to; phrase a question in a way guaranteed to get the answer they are looking for; and take just about any comment out of context to make the other candidate look like a villian. And we (and our children) watch it all, at the highest levels, then wonder what happened to honesty and integrity.
So for this week, Auntie Em invites you to do some listening and some thinking. Listen for honesty, and for dishonesty. Is it lying outright, or is it a little worm of a lie adulterating the truth? You know that’s how Satan works. (If you are into politics and haven’t seen the Tampa Bay Times’ Truth-o-meter, you need to go there now. Most statements are “Half- and mostly- true”; only a few are “pants on fire” lies.)
And the big challenge of the week: Listen to yourself. Hear what you say to others, and dear sisters, listen to what you say to yourself. Sometimes the lies we tell ourselves are the cruelest of all.
If I haven’t convinced you that BE HONEST is the best advice you’ll get, just listen to these guys!
Sigmund Freud: Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.
Ben Franklin: Tricks and treachery are the practice of fools, that don’t have brains enough to be honest. George Washington: I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man. John Wooden: Be prepared and be honest.
Frederick Douglass: The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous. Robert E. Lee: The trite saying that honesty is the best policy has met with the just criticism that honesty is not policy. The real honest man is honest from conviction of what is right, not from policy.
(I found these quotes at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/honest.html#A9Uw0tYQBmUKe8Wi.99)
And Scripture is full of “honest” wisdom:
Proverbs 11:3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.
Proverbs 6: 16-20 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 12:22 The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.
1Cor 13:6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
(Thanks to http://www.bible-verses-by-subject.info/bible-verses-by-topic-starting-with-h/bible-verses-about-honesty.htm for the references.)
About the Author: Hi! My name's Melinda and I'm a teacher. Not just a school teacher- I am that too, but I love teaching anybody anything. Nothing scratches my itch like somebody saying that something I said helped them, or something I showed them made a difference. I like to cook, to read, to garden. I've lived over 50 years (just a little bit!); I've been married to the same man (He always signs himself "Mr X") for over 30 years; and all of our children are self-sufficient, tax-paying adults who we love to visit and socialize with. I love the Lord and have served in 2 churches throughout my married life. Our house is paid for and we have no debt. You can read my Guide to Life, and see more about it. I say all that to say-- my life works. It might seem dull to some- no drama or fireworks. But I love it. Contentment and peace-- that's what you'll find at Auntie Em's house. Sit down and visit a while, and you can find it too.