From back when I was listening to a lot of Danny Silk and contemplating relational intricacies.
John 1:14 – “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Proverbs 16:24 – “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”
I’m trying to think of a better opening line than “They say honesty is the best policy” but I really can’t so just imagine I said something really profound and slightly amusing. Truth is, it is!! So much of what goes wrong in our relationships with each other comes from an inability to be honest and open about what’s going on with us. When people hurt us or annoy us we have a tendency to do one of two things: conceal it and ignore it or express it through our behaviour instead of communicating it through words. I’ve been listening to a series called “People Helping People” by a man called Danny Silk and his wife Sheri. He really emphasises the need to be honest about our thoughts and feelings with those around us and especially those close to us through words instead of actions that are confusing and easily misunderstood. It can be hard to find the right words to bring correction or a challenge to someone and so changing your behaviour is often the easy option. I don’t actually think that what we say is the issue. I think it’s more about what’s going on in our hearts. The mouth says what fills the heart right? (Luke 6:45)
I love the way John describes Jesus as being full of grace and truth. He brought truth which is honesty but he wasn’t just filled with truth. The word grace there is also the word for kindness and I think this where we can learn a lot about how to be honest with another. Sometimes we decide to be harsh and “honest” with people who’ve crossed us and we call it honesty or enough “tough love”. I do think love needs to be the starting place for everything we do including our honesty so the way we deal in honesty needs to be intentional and not flippant. If honesty comes out of us from a place of frustration it can miss the mark and do damage. Proverbs 27:6 says that wounds from a friend are better than kisses from an enemy so if we’re wielding the sword of truth it needs to be tempered and guided by love. If friends are opening their hearts to us we can’t afford to bring truth to them out of our frustration. Kingdom honesty is not the constant display of internal emotions. Our emotions need be kept in check and we’ve been given the power, love and self-control we need to do that (2Tim 1:7).
Before we decide to be “honest” with someone that we have an issue with I think checking the state of our hearts is pretty important. Being honest for honesty’s sake is not nearly as good as being honest for the sake of love. I often find I want to be “honest” with someone to get them off my back about something or simply because they’re bothering me. In such cases my desire for honesty isn’t for the development of that person’s life but rather for my own selfishness and comfort. My “honesty” therefore is more likely to come out sharply and with little thought or consideration of the feelings of others and it doesn’t bring peace to the person I’m sharing with.
I really believe that the principle of honesty does not negate our personal responsibility to exercise self-control to temper what we say with love and with wisdom. In Romans 12:18 Paul says “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” so there comes a point where we can’t be responsible for the reactions of others but we have plenty of power to present our honesty fully and completely but with grace to bring peace instead of conflict. Honesty should always be allowed to marinate in love before it is served. It tastes better, it goes down easier and it leaves people wanting more. Although we may sometimes have the right to rebuke people or command them to do something, I think we can all learn a lesson from Philemon who said “Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I appeal to you on the basis of love.” (Philemon 1:8-9)
Kingdom honesty is an act of love and a means of grace for spiritual growth and relational development. Let’s figure out how to do it right and build each other up.
Thanks for reading.