Solomon said that “Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth” (Proverbs 16:13). Actually, we all like it when people are truthful. It is like a kiss on the lips it is so pleasurable (Proverbs 24:26). However, honest people are becoming more and more rare. Why is that? Maybe it’s because our sinful natures encourage us to be dishonest and our culture encourages us to lie. After all, everybody does it. God, however, doesn’t give us any wiggle room when it comes to telling the truth. James wrote that “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” (James 1:26). That’s pretty stringent! God says he expects us to be completely honest. Let’s consider a few of the kinds of dishonest speech people fall prey to.
Lying is choosing to abandon the truth for falsehoods. It is misleading with deceptive and untruthful words. People lie because they don’t want to admit the truth. They lie because they exaggerate their own importance. They lie to sell a sham. Whatever the reason, lying produces untrustworthy people.
There is of course gossip, one of the oldest and most deadly forms of dishonest speech. Gossip is enticing like choice morsels of bread, but no matter how appealing it destroys relationships (Proverbs 26:22). A truthful person always keeps a secret because that is what it means to be honest (Proverbs 11:13). A gossip says things about a person behind their back that he would never say to his face.
Then there is flattery, this is lying from the other side of the tongue. Job warns us about the danger of flattery “I will show partiality to no one, nor will I flatter any man” (Job 32:1). If you think about it, flattery is like gossip but saying to the person’s face what you would never say behind their back.i
What is needed today is for fathers and mothers to be completely honest and accurate in their speech before their children. When they do, their children learn the importance of telling the truth and the danger of lying. Lies are a form of deception, and God is looking for authenticity in all of us. Being completely honest means taking responsibility for our words and striving to be accurate.
i R. Kent Hughes, Luke, Volume Two, Crossway Books, Wheaton, IL 1998, P. 264.