Being Brutally Honest

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How do we find it so difficult to be honest in so many situations the modern world throws our way? Is it due to the increase in sensitivity we’ve acquired as individuals? Are we afraid of the ramifications of such honesty in the face of even our cherished loved ones? Don’t we owe them the truth rather than misleading them with flattering deception or empty compliments? I don’t know about you but I think of the Proverb that discusses preferring the wounds of a friend over the kisses of an enemy. It’s preferable not to be misled by the flattery of adversaries, but to instead be temporarily wounded by a friend. The wounds of a friend have the capacity to improve us, build us up, and inspire us to take a new course that could better our lives. (V*1)

Most certainly the friends that incur my utmost respect and implore me to keep them near by have a capacity to tell me the truth under practically any circumstances that could come my way. Have they noticed a change about my behavior that could be difficult for me to hear, but may benefit me a great deal to understand? It could take a healthy dose of self control on my part to understand them, and certainly some quantity of boldness and transparency on their part to be brutally honest with me and aide me in avoiding trouble. A real friend would much rather risk ostracizing you as a friend than make you feel better by omission of the truth. They know in their heart that they have your best interests in mind, and if there’s no room to waste any time they will act in a timely fashion to get the word to you.

With all this said of course we must all remember that human emotions are a reality and there is a difference between tactful discretion and haphazardly stating something in an overly blunt manner that might be otherwise inconsiderate from their vantage point. In other words I have no desire to offend them and I make that clear by approaching them from a position of their consideration being one of my highest priorities. The only priority higher is upholding the truth without compromise, and if offending them is a prerequisite of them knowing an important truth it’s probably still something I would risk doing. It doesn’t necessarily mean they will say goodbye to our friendship forever, they might realize later on how pivotal the information was and perhaps even thank me for it in its’ due time, but one has to have the audacity to be willing to go to these lengths in order to be a true friend occasionally. My best friends aren’t there because they chose to tickle my ear drums. flatter me, or increase my self esteem. I value them because they were bold enough to be truthful with me even when it might have hurt me to do so emotionally so that I could make a more informed decision in the long run or that I might have a full set of critical information to make an informed choice.

Of course we’re all human and it goes without saying that at one point or another we will have slip ups. Once I slip, I ask God for forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ, and actively repent from sin as best as I can and hopefully beyond by the leading of the Holy Spirit. This way I should better acquaint myself with having less and less slip ups occur in the area at question and improve my defenses against its’ temptation. Don’t allow the devil a foothold in your life so that habitual sins take root and take over any aspect of your life that you should have submitted control of to the Lord. God didn’t design us with the expectation that we would be perfect, He knew that we would be imperfect and require His presence and provisions in our lives in order to stand a fighting chance and to be delivered from sin. He knew that without the provision of Jesus’ death on the cross we would be lost and without hope. Jesus Christ gives us the hope and also opens the door to our salvation. His death and resurrection also simultaneously provide for us the grace needed to be picked up and dusted off when we fail, but to continue to move forward and ultimately persevere in the face of any trouble we face. His beautiful sacrifice opens the door so that we may have a relationship with God, and although He doesn’t need us He willingly uses us if we would embrace His call.

Honesty is but one of many areas that we need to maintain integrity in order to follow in the straight and narrow path God wants us to walk. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the wide gate is sufficient or that there are other options in order to receive salvation. Jesus is the way, the truth,  and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Him. (V*2). He desires a relationship with you. While you ought to fear him in reverence, worship, respect, and awe none of us needs to be timid regarding how we approach Him in our prayer life. If one of your personal challenges is avoiding lies, even if they might be “little white lies”and “harmless” by worldly standards, be diligent to request help in your struggle. While being dishonest wouldn’t cost you your eternal salvation, if you’re truly saved you ought to feel the inspiration of God to fix this problem in your life and close this door of vulnerability that often leads people to dead ends involving anxiety, stress, and ultimately death. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death, the good news is that it also states immediately after “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.” (V*3). This tells me that although we may struggle with sin after our salvation is secure, even possibly waging death, God still understands that we desperately need Him and our eternity will not be compromised because of these mistakes. While this doesn’t give us free license to sin, it should encourage us that with God’s help and presence in our lives we can defeat even our biggest weaknesses. Aim to turn your biggest weaknesses into strengths by God’s grace and for His glory, because without His power we have no such chance.

God has us all in the palm of His hands and He knows you better than you know yourself. He knows what your strengths and weaknesses are, He knows what you need and where you are going,  and He owns all of us whether we acknowledge Him or not. He has full control of your life map, and the ball is in your court to give Him the keys to the car. Acknowledge Him by choice now and accept the free gift of salvation that the propitiation, atonement,  and ultimately the display of agape love that Jesus Christ demonstrated before all of us when he died on the cross offer to us so that we may be saved. If we ignore His tug on our hearts and continue to live in our selfish wayward sin instead then we are literally deferring the most important decision we will ever make in this life. We would have chosen to essentially gamble with our eternal standing with God instead of handling it as an urgent matter. This is a bet that none of us can afford to make, nor should we try to. Get on your knees before God and make it right, pray to Him as you would a friend. I am confident that He will reveal Himself to you in a great way and help you figure out what you should do with your life. When you let God in to direct your life paths, you’ll know that despite the storms of life you’ll have the greatest ally in existence by your side and you can be confident that your eternal destiny will be in His secure hands. There’s no better place to be than in good standing with God, even if that means that you garner less respect from man.

Being extremely honest may step on toes once in a while. Saying the truth even when it hurts instead of saying what you know will please people could lead you to be disliked, mocked,  or even persecuted. (V*4). The Bible boldly tells us to count these as blessings in disguise, to essentially keep eternal perspective because such trials will bring about increased faith and Spiritual benefit so that we may grow as Christians. The world hated Jesus before it hated any of us as believers, we learn in John 15:18-25 what some of that challenge looked like for Jesus Christ and hear His wisdom on the matter and warning to the extent that we will experience persecution on some level. (V*5). It is better to be Biblically sound and maintain your personal integrity than to compromise it for someone else’s fleeting benefits or entertainment. Additionally even non-believers who have succeeded in the world will tell you the value of establishing and maintaining a reputation that is untarnished by persistent lying. Any exposure or ties that you can extricate from your life or all-together avoid that entail shady dealings are more than worthwhile to eliminate at one’s earliest opportunity. (V*6). Scripture is clear that it is better to be a poor man of integrity than a rich man of crooked ways. It is better to be a poor man who holds tight to his integrity rather than to be a rich man who has lied, cut corners, and compromised his morals to get to where he is financially in other words. Ideally this includes perverse speech as well. (V*7). When we incorporate cursing into our vocabulary nothing good, upright, excellent, or praiseworthy can come of it. (V*8). This is the goal of our mindsets in light of God’s commands, and these verses paint a clear picture of what we should indulge in our thought life. Cursing only serves to pervert our thought life as it also becomes a bad habit that impacts others around us negatively too. It can lead onlookers,  acquaintances, or even friends to look down upon one’s lack of self restraint. Better to draw near to God’s ways treasuring wisdom, prudence, and discretion. There is no justification for such other choice speech and whether directly or indirectly a price will be paid for incorporating it into one’s life. You’ll draw different people to you, your heart of optimism and good intentions may be perceived tarnished, or a plethora of other potentially negative outcomes.

The correlation between perverse speech and lying ought to be quite a close one too. Even if you pridefully maintain such a perspective without realizing negative ramifications yet, what will you do when you need to adapt to a workplace environment that frowns upon people who speak in such a manner? Do you think it will be easy or stressful to switch how you essentially comport yourself as between your personal life and your work life? This Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde approach would add a lot of emotional turmoil to your life and stress for no good reason. Any friend that wouldn’t like to see you clean up your vocabulary and sharpen up your focus isn’t worth keeping around, so just make sure you’re willing to lose some friends over it if they don’t appreciate your changes. Better to be a friend of God than a friend of the world. If you chose to keep the charade, you are being disingenuous with half the people in your life. You desire to behave how your natural compulsion dictates, but if that is a fallen state incorporating perversity you may not make the sound impressions your employer wants you to make. Furthermore with some tactical intention and a lot of prayer this is a habit that can be conquered one step at a time. There’s no clear cut reason to compromise and the Biblical stance should be more than enough reason to advocate a position of sobriety and alertness on the manner so that we do not conform to the world in our personal integrity,  speech, unbelief, or selfish motivations of guarding our reputations. Having a good reputation is to be highly prized, but it takes a back seat to maintaining your integrity when push comes to shove. Amazingly in the world we live in today some people at some points in their life do have to choose between making people happy or keeping what they stand for in tact. Hopefully if we all come to this fork in the road we choose rightly and keep our person without compromise. (V*9).

Lastly, we should be vigilant to guard our hearts, for the heart is the wellspring of life. (V*10). Don’t open your heart to filth in media like music or movies, or in the people you’ve chosen to surround yourself with. Yes we are called to share the word of God and fulfill the Great Commission by all means, but not at the expense of our own Spiritual well being. We are to be the salt of the earth , in the world but not of the world. When salt is used on a meal after it has been cooked it doesn’t allow itself to be absorbed internally, it impacts the taste of the food while it stays on it without embedding itself in it. If the food is the filth of the world and we are the salt, we likewise should influence those around us without allowing negative influences to perturb us or derail God’s plans for our lives. In order to do this we need to limit the time we spend with those who have any sort of perverse influence. While we do not want to ostracize ourselves from the world or the culture, we do not want it to be the defining element of our lives here on earth. That is all already determined by what Jesus set us apart to do. Keep prayer, Christian influence (such as music or friends) nearby so that the Spiritually sound content you consume exceeds the filth or the questionable. This will help you guard your heart, which in turn will help one to stay true to oneself and our loved ones.

While being brutally honest has some significant consequences in certain situations , overall I am confident the benefits outweigh the disadvantages overall. It is within our reach to be more genuine, and to confide that our friends and loved ones will be emotionally matured enough to handle what we have to say. Just make sure that your motives are founded on their best interests and not silly endeavors such as making oneself look superior or trying to put them down. Life is too short to cut people down with your tongue, build them up rather than tear them down with your words and you’ll be well on your way to establishing a lifestyle of consistent honesty.

God bless you, I pray that He motivates you to pursue this quality as a part of your life and that He purifies your heart as well as transforms you through the renewing of your mind to achieve these lofty goals.

 Biblical References:

V*1 – “6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Proverbs 27:6 (NKJV).

V*2 – “6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6 (NKJV).

V*3- “23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 (NKJV).

V*4 – “2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (NKJV).

V*5 – “18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. 25 But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.” John 15:18-25 (NKJV).

V*6- “1 Better is the poor who walks in his integrity Than one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.” Proverbs 19:1 (NKJV).

V*7- “1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. 3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints;4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” Ephesians 5:1-5 (NKJV).

V*8- “8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8 (NKJV).

V*9- “1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
Loving favor rather than silver and gold.” Proverbs 22:1 (NKJV).

V*10- “23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV).

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