Walk Honestly

Jun 23rd, 2009 | By | Category: The Basics (click on Article name)

Walk Honestly

“Cast off the works of darkness … walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting, drunkenness … not in strife and envying” (Romans 13:12, 13).

Honesty is a foundation for every other development of Christian character. It is also one of the first things others evaluate about us, who claim to follow Jesus.

Christians should have “a good report of them which are without” (1 Timothy 3:7). If we are careless about our words, or misrepresent things when it is to our advantage in a temporal way, people will observe this. They know this is not compatible with Christian conduct.

Most Christian people are aware enough to avoid coarser forms of dishonesty —theft, lying, bearing false witness against another. Sometimes even these might creep in among Christians, but if they do, they are so clearly against right principles, that we will know we have erred. Our conscience will tell us. Then the question becomes, do we wish to make amends for this error?  For example, returning illicit gain, correcting a false testimony, and apologizing for what we have done.

Our conscience might press us, but perhaps we do not have the moral courage to take this next step, to rectify the misdeed. Perhaps we will say privately to ourselves, “I will be more careful next time.” That part is good, the press of conscience will improve us, our conduct will improve, and we will grow. Whereas, if we do not resolve to avoid that fault in the future, then the sin will grow less odious to us and our resistance for the future will be reduced. Our defense will be broken down. Our conscience will be dulled. Our conduct will suffer accordingly.

But it is best of all if we do also correct the misdeed, if it is practical to do so. This helps us remain honest for the future, and it develops humility, for it is not easy to recognize a fault in a public way. Because it is not easy, people who see us correct a past sin will probably remember that noble effort inwardly, even if they do not expressly commend it outwardly. They will see that we value what is right even when it is painful, uncomfortable, or embarrassing to us.

Most matters involving honesty are fought in the mind, personally, and only observed secondarily by others, if at all. Usually, honestly evaluating our faults, and overcoming them, is personal.

Honesty in our Faith

Honesty in our faith is also important. This begins with a sincere wish to know what is true about God, His character, and His plan. If we are indifferent to the Truth, then we will not pursue it, and not gain its privileges or its rewards. There is value in knowing what God is doing, so that we may be sympathetic to His program, and shape our activities in accord with it.

“While thorough and orderly study is necessary to the appreciation of any of the sciences, it is specially so in the science of Divine revelation … No work is more noble and ennobling than the reverent study of the revealed purposes of God, ‘which things the angels desire to look into’ (1 Peter 1:12).”

Honesty is a factor in coming to a knowledge of the Truth. Honesty is also a factor in speaking the Truth when we have learned it. If Stephen had not honestly proclaimed his faith, he might have escaped persecution.

But then he would not be hailed as the first Christian martyr after our Lord Jesus, which for the ages of eternity will be a testimony on his behalf. The Apostles could have escaped beatings (Acts 5:18, 40, 41), but they would have missed being counted worthy to be the 12 foundation stones of New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:14).

Our experiences may not be as remarkable as the apostles. But we do have the privilege of representing the Truth of the coming Kingdom to others. If we are honest in our testimony, then in the ages to come when the Truth is abroad everywhere, will we not be glad we exposed ourselves for the Truth? Will we ever then regret the disciplines of the Christian life, or the sacrifice of time, talents, possessions, of the present? No, we will be glad for them. Whatever we experience now on behalf of honesty, integrity, faithfulness to principle, will be forever after a badge of honor in our memory, and in our characters, which are built through experience.

Recently we read the experiences of brethren in Romania, who during the days of the Communist rule in that country were sent to prison for years at a time, for the simple offense of believing, and not recanting, their faith in God’s Plan of the Ages. Sometimes they were “convicted” because of their service, travels, and labor for other brethren of “like precious faith.” But they walked “honestly, as in the day.” They respected authority, but would not yield their conscience against what they knew was right.

Sometimes they feared, became sick, and fainted from the harshness and inhumane conditions. But when released, they were joyful for the privilege, and ever after have the testimony in themselves, that they were pleasing to God.

Let the courage of people like these men and women of faith move us, in matters great or small, to “walk honestly, as in the day.”

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