Question: "What does the Bible say about honesty?"
Answer: Honesty is truthfulness. An honest person has the habit of making accurate, trustworthy statements about life, self, others and God. An honest person represents himself just as he is and tells others the truth about themselves. Honesty is not “expressing everything that goes through your mind.” That’s transparency, and a person can be honest without being transparent. However, no one can be consistently honest without a commitment to the truth. Honesty will, at times, hurt someone’s feelings, but that does not mean that dishonesty is preferable.
Dishonesty is reproved in Scripture. God does not accept a person who “practices deceit” (Psalm 101:7), and Jeremiah 9:5 says of a wicked society, “Everyone deceives his neighbor, and no one speaks the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they weary themselves committing iniquity.” Speaking the truth, or honesty, is a mark of healthy human interaction.
A person who knows the truth but (for whatever reason) says differently is a liar. The Bible emphasizes the importance of making true statements about God. To purposely misrepresent God is a serious offense. A liar is defined, first and foremost, as someone who denies that Jesus is the Christ (1 John 2:22). “Trusting in lies” is consistent with forgetting God (Jeremiah 13:25). And those who claim to know God but contradict Him, add to His words, or refuse to follow or accept His commands are also called liars (1 John 2:4; 5:10; Proverbs 30:6).
Honesty as a character quality is a sign of the Spirit’s work in a person’s soul. God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18); therefore, His presence in a person gives rise to truthfulness. God’s people are honest.
Humankind is not naturally honest (Psalm 116:11). Dishonesty has worldly rewards–lying can often bring financial gain, power, or temporary satisfaction. But the rewards come at a price. Dishonesty leads to more and more wickedness (Proverbs 17:4). Lying to fulfill worldly desires ultimately results in the loss of everything a person has, including his life. Hell’s inhabitants will include “all liars” (Revelation 21:8). “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36).
While it is sometimes tempting to lie, misrepresent ourselves, or downplay uncomfortable truths in an effort to avoid conflict, dishonesty is never good for relationships. Speaking dishonest words in order avoid conflict is flattery (Psalm 12:2). Again, at times honesty will hurt the feelings of others. It’s inevitable. Remember the words of the wise: “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses” (Proverbs 27:6). A friend is willing to wound with the truth; sweet words, if lies, are the enemies of our soul.
That said, honesty should always be accompanied by gentleness. An honest person is motivated by love, not by an obsession with relaying accurate information (Proverbs 19:22). Above all, the honest person is concerned with telling the truth about God and fostering the spiritual growth of other people (Ephesians 4:29). Those who follow Jesus, the Truth (John 14:6), will speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).