“The Bible says not to tell a lie!”
How many times have you heard this as a child or even as an adult? It’s such a common platitude that it practically floats in one ear and drifts unnoticed out the other. However, the Bible really does have a lot to say about honesty. And it’s about time that many of us start to take it seriously.
Three Bible verses about honesty
- Proverbs 12:17 — “Truthful witness by a good person clears the air, but liars lay down a smoke screen of deceit.” (MSG)
In the early wisdom writings of Solomon in the book of Proverbs, Solomon has a lot to say about lying and God’s view on it. This verse in particular leaves no room for interpretation. Lying is an act of deceit and not the mark of a good person. It is better to clear the air than to cloud it with a web of lies.
- Matthew 5:33-37 — “And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.” (MSG).
This quote from Jesus was specifically within the context of swearing by oaths or at the altar, which was a common practice. Jesus says we need to stop leaning on oaths and the altar as affirmation of our honesty and let our honesty (or lack thereof) be a testament to itself.
How many times have you “sworn to God” when claiming to tell the truth? How many times have you done that when you knew you weren’t telling the truth? Imagine how disrespectful this is to God as well as the person to whom you are lying.
- Proverbs 19:1 — ”Better to be poor and honest than a rich person no one can trust.” (MSG)
For Solomon, a king with immeasurable riches, to make such a statement warrants attention. People who lie to accumulate wealth eventually receive their justice, whether it is from their fellow mankind or from God in some way the rest of us might not see.
It is better to be a person of character than to be wealthy and morally decrepit.
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