Honesty is one of those intangible qualities which has become so compromised in our western society, it is hard to distinguish it from all the hype. How often do we give an excuse, rather than the real reason, for doing or not doing something, not wanting to either hurt or be embarrassed.  How often is a 'white lie' acceptable?  Jesus told us to "let your 'yes' mean 'yes' and your 'no' mean 'no'.  Anything else is evil" (Matthew 5:37). He was telling us to 'call a spade a spade'. He told us He is the Truth (John 14:6).  And it is the Holy Spirit who will guide us into all truth (John 16:13), not the preachers in the pulpit. Honesty is telling the truth.  Total honesty is telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Honesty and truth are so closely related, it is not profitable here to write separate essays on each.

Our justice system is the perfect example of truth losing its meaning. It makes us swear to 'tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth', yet when we try, the judge will direct us to only answer the question asked. The defending attorney will try his best to get off a client he knows is guilty. The prosecutor will do his utmost to convict an accused he knows is innocent.  The truth has become a commodity, hinging on how good a lawyer you can afford. Our society has lost the plot where truth is concerned.

Total honesty is a sacrifice of self.  It requires masks to be taken off and walls around our souls to come down. It calls for us to stop pretending to be something we are not.  But still it is not as simple as all that.  We need our minds to be renewed, to be de-programmed, so our objectivity and information processing capability can be restored.


One of the things that really bugs me, in this western culture we have allowed to evolve, is that our thought processes are no longer our own. 

Information dissemination has become an art form.  Governments and the media feed us select data and slant it in such a way so as to get a preconceived outcome in terms of the conclusions we reach.  We are not privy to all the relevant information.  Whether it has to do with how we spend our money, or whether we go to war, the aim is the same. We have become pawns in a giant game, controlled by much bigger players than ourselves.  These players have only one goal in mind - acquiring power, motivated by greed.  We may be totally convinced we are justified in reaching our conclusions, yet when someone in the know unexpectedly releases more relevant facts, we suddenly realise we have been played. We need to cut through the confusion that arises, from trying to extract and discern Truth out of the mudslide of information forced upon us in a daily avalanche.

The one place that ought to be 'safe' from this mind manipulation is the church. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.  I am not saying that all churches are guilty, but the proportion is probably the majority. Empire building is rife. Audience seeking is the name of the game.  Churches losing the 'audience battle' are desperately examining ways of becoming more popular. That is good.  But the solutions they come up with usually involve compromising the Gospel. That is bad. The processes used to achieve these goals involve finely tuned secularstrategies, proven to work - promise what your target group wants to hear and then structure your presentation in such a way that the outcome looks not only inevitable, but ethically and morally viable.  This is done by, again, presenting only select information, instead of the whole truth.  In the case of justifying popular doctrine, the selection of only some of the relevant scriptures can very easily sway opinion to support. This is the reason it is so important that we all have Jesus as our primary teacher, through an intimate personal and revelatory relationship with Him.


Communication is the process of trying to get someone else to understand something we want to get across. But usually the underlying aim is modifying theirposition.  Analysis of the elements of effective communication shows it to be quite a complex procedure. It includes assessment of what the recipient knows so far, estimation of what their present attitude might be, determination of how we wish to change that attitude, and working out what data will bring about such change. We then transmit such information and look for feedback showing the level of understanding that has been achieved.  If further change is deemed necessary, the whole process starts all over again. 

That's not true communication; it's hard-headed persuasion.

True and honest communication asks for something few of us are willing to give.  It requires us to take off our masks, open our heart, and make ourselves vulnerable by supplying the person we are communicating with all the information they need to truly tune into what we feel and think. It comes down to telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, not leaving out any vital bits that might actually detract from the case we are trying to establish.  And we rarely consider our own position as being out of line or needing adjustment. We find it hard to admit that we might be wrong and fail to be open to correction.

As soon as we deliberately leave out relevant information, our communication becomes slanted. That's when we enter into the dangerous area of mind manipulation.  No longer is the exercise one of humbly getting to the truth, but one of attempting to persuade the other party that our view is correct and theirs is wrong.  This is something that we would expect from the world, but not from Christians, yet in the overall context of human relations, taking into account our fallen human nature, it goes on everywhere.  We generally state only what we feel will support our case, often even keeping an 'ace' up our sleeves.

Recognition of this part of the fallen human nature is essential in bringing Truth into the Church. It is absolutely vital that preachers start presenting in their sermons the whole truth.  No one can be ready to enter eternity, until their heart's intent is not persuading others, but to genuinely find out how God feels.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Our Christian walk is not about sharing like-mindedness with a select bunch of other Christians, but about sharing like-mindedness with Jesus.  Again, it brings us back to the red writing, Jesus' own words - this is His legacy, this is His will, this is what He desires in His soul-mate and bride.

To explore the true meaning of honesty, I am going to examine who we are to be honest with, dividing the range into five categories, and determine what level of self-disclosure ought to be applied in each of those circumstances:


  • Yourself
  • God
  • Your life partner
  • the Body of Christ
  • The people around us

1. Honesty with ourselves

Being honest with yourself is not as easy and straightforward as it seems. Everything we think and feel is influenced by so many factors, many of which are not under conscious control. And even the knowledge on which we base our attitudes is incomplete and often inaccurate.  

We sleep away a third of our lives and spend the other two-thirds trying to maintain the little niche we have carved out for ourselves in this world, and hopefully enlarge it.  In between, we somehow find the time to make sure our 'healthy' psychological boundaries remain intact, so that we don't get too affected when others suffer.  We throw a little money at the suffering to ease our conscience, and then continue on our merry way.  The time available to ponder the Big Questions of Life is minimal and easily usurped by more pressing matters.  And with all these pressures, agendas and interests occupying our hearts and minds, the weeks and months and years slip away, until finally the clock stops.

As I have said before, I don't have all the answers, but I am trying very hard to be totally honest with myself.  For instance, there is ample scriptural basis for selling everything you have and giving the proceeds to the poor. By western standards, I am comfortable, but by no means 'wealthy'. I have genuinely thought about selling everything. To buy that field with the treasure, and find the gold refined by fire, I would give anything, do anything. James chapter 5 warns fervently against the corruptive influence of riches in the last days. But if I sold all and gave it away, I would become part of a larger problem, joining the homeless.  I don't think I want to go there. And to be perfectly frank, I don't think the answer is to be found there. Here in the western world we have unavoidably become part of a giant machine, based on consumerism.  If and when it all collapses, the man with the rice paddy will probably be better off than I am. I have no idea how to feed myself, other than to go to the store to buy some food.  If the tap stops running, I don't even have the means to clean my teeth.

You can see how many factors influence our thinking and consequently our honesty. It is so easy to deceive ourselves.  When we want a relationship, we convince ourselves the one we love has all the qualities we are looking for. When we buy that investment property, we convince ourselves we are doing it to provide housing for someone else.  When we buy that luxury vehicle, we convince ourselves we are doing it so our friends can be comfortable when we give them a lift.  If we can't be honest with ourselves, how can we ever be honest with God?

2. Honesty with God   

God already knows everything.  He doesn't need us to say anything so He'll understand where we're coming from.  Our honesty with God is more about us than about Him. Our spoken words in prayer don't tell Him anything He didn't already know, but those words, in some mystical way we don't understand, demonstrate where our heart is.  He wants our heart to be for Him, not all the other things. Seek first His kingdom, and He promises to clothe and feed us.

I have often wondered why we ever need to say anything to God. After all, He is omniscient.  He knows the desires of our hearts without us telling Him.  He is perfectly capable of seeing our pain and suffering and illness.  He knows what to do about it. He knows whether and how much we love Him. He only grants prayers in accordance with His will. He doesn't refuse to heal a liver because we had the wrong diagnosis and asked Him to heal a kidney.  He isn't a stickler for accuracy, (like the genie from the bottle, tricking the new owner into asking for something open to interpretation). God just isn't like that.  So why do we need to pray?

I think it is to do with passion.  I will cover this in much more detail in my essay by that name. Passion cannot be silent and cannot be silenced. He wants us to be passionate about Him.  And if we are, we cannot keep our mouth shut. He wants praises for Him welling up from our hearts and overflowing at the mouth, not because He is vain and on an ego trip, but because He designed us to be in love with Him.  And such strong feelings have to be expressed, if they are real.


 "...for out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks". (Luke 6:45)

3. Honesty with our life-partner

Our spouse is designed to be one with us.  There are even scriptures indicating our spouse is saved through us (1 Corinthians 7:14, Acts 16:31). In that special oneness, communication takes on a special meaning. We are joined not just in the flesh, but in our spirits. Our souls, while they remain separate entities, are joined on a spiritual plane, facilitating, possibly even demanding, an extraordinary level of communication. If our choice of partners has been made in all due wisdom and with the Lord's blessing, we should find ourselves in a relationship where trust rules supreme and where our masks can stay off all of the time.  We need have no fear that our trust will be betrayed. We can be ourselves and share with each other the deepest emotions in our heart. And in the safety of that intimate environment, when one is weak, the other will be strong and cause his or her strength to flow into and raise up the other, making them feel significant again.  

A friend pointed out to me that 'significant' is the perfect word to describe each of the partners in a soul-mate relationship.  When all is working the way God designed it to be, each of us builds the other up and inspires them with confidence to aim even higher.  Encouragement and recognition of one another's value, acknowledgement of positives and total acceptance of each other's negatives, are the actions and attitudes that make us feel significant.  In that type of relationship, your doubts and fears and weaknesses become "our" doubts and fears and weaknesses, things that belong to the two of you together. They are no longer things to be hidden or to be ashamed of.  They may need to be dealt with as the Lord leads, but they never come between you, to keep you apart.               

It is unfortunate that in the modern concept of marriage, the joining of two people together has lost something precious.  Nice words are spoken at the ceremony, but often neither partner has any idea of the potential blessing that can flow from totally exposing their souls to one another. They enter into this new relationship with their masks still firmly in place, consumed by private agendas, still under the illusion that all their unrealistic expectations will be met.  Then they both travel in different directions and wonder why they don't know each other after five or ten years. Is it any surprise that the divorce rate is so high?

Achieving the God-designed oneness in marriage has a price and involves a risk.  One of you has to take the first step in making themselves vulnerable by exposing their inner soul.  Can you trust the other to honour that level of honesty?  Will they respond in kind?  Or will they hold back, keeping walls in place, protecting their own inner self from the risk of betrayal?  This kind of honesty only works ifboth of you are totally committed to it. I encourage anyone reading this to ponder on this spiritual principle and consider whether to show it to their partner.

Huge breakthroughs are possible in faltering relationships, when this level of mutual honest communication becomes the practised norm.

4. Honesty with the Body

The principle has extended application throughout the Body of Christ, perhaps not to the same deep level of intimacy, or including as much explicit detail as you might disclose to your spouse, but nevertheless involving the taking off of masks.

James chapter 5 encourages us to confess our sins to one another as Christians.  Such confessions need to be made in the safe, non-judgmental environment described in chapter 4.  What is a 'safe' environment? It is a place where Christians meet to let the Holy Spirit flow and where He is in charge of the meeting. It is a place where the humbling act of self exposure, of making yourself vulnerable, is respected and never abused. It is not possible to have this kind of interaction in a large congregation.  Small groups are the only venue where this type of honesty and acceptance can flourish. 

Spiritual principles designed to operate within the Body include agape love, submission, confession, recognition, valuing one another, forgiveness and absence of judgment. All these principles work together within such a group, to create an environment where sin is left for the Holy Spirit to deal with. It is true 'Church'.  It is a totally safe place.  It usually comprises maybe a dozen souls, a practical number for mutual love to thrive and for all to get to know each of the others well. We don't have to walk around town with a placard listing all of our sins around our neck.  But when we all become willing to expose our soul with all its imperfections to a small part of the Body, something marvellous happens. 

Larry Crabb, in his book "The Safest Place on Earth", Word Publishing, calls it 'spiritual community' (recommended reading). When we are enabled to see Jesus in our brothers and sisters, their sins and shortcomings become something that doesn't stand in the way of our love for each other. Only if the Holy Spirit is in control of our hearts, can we see Jesus in them. Then miracles happen. Instead of judging one another, possibly gossiping about each other afterwards, we accept one another just as we are, honour one another's self-exposure, see the positive and good qualities, and open the way for allowing God to pour into each other, leaving Him to do what He does best. 

True honesty within the Body calls for outright refusal to be a hypocrite. You stop pretending you are better than you are.  You drop all pretences. And you let the walls surrounding your soul come down. It is only then, that total healing can be received.

5. Honesty with the people around you.

I have taken the outrageous step of exposing my soul to the whole world in this website. Not to the extent that I would share with my soul-mate, but nevertheless a large slab. Christians and non-believers, family and friends, acquaintances and complete strangers, anyone can read where I have been, where I am now and how I got there.  I don't recommend this for everyone.  It is just something I have felt burdened to do. Nowhere in the Bible are we instructed to be that open. 

However, our honesty with the people around us, meaning our neighbour, our work colleagues, our customers, anyone we come into contact with, is a testimony to our Lord and the sincerity of our faith. It is what they base their perceptions on, of the Gospel, and of Christianity as a whole.

The world sees us in action. What they observe ought to make them want what we have. That is why it is so important that we be real.  Pretending to be more 'spiritual' than we are (holier-than-thou), only gives them the impression that we are hypocrites.  Pretending to be happily married, followed by divorce (something I have been guilty of), hardly qualifies as a great testimony. Advertising our Christian affiliation in our business, then overcharging our customers, hardly leaves a great impression.  Proclaiming our great love and then side-stepping the homeless, doesn't go down real well. Preaching chastity, followed by conviction of child abuse, hardly persuades anyone to try church.

It all starts with openness. If you don't have peace in your heart, don't pretend you do.  If you are not coping, don't make out you're OK.  If you have the flu, don't go around claiming you don't, and cough all over your neighbours.  If you still show the symptoms of an illness, don't go around claiming you've been healed.  And don't claim healing for a condition that hasn't even been diagnosed. If you don't go down spontaneously when you are prayed for, don't fall because everyone else does.  Jesus couldn't stand the pretenders.  He preferred the company of those who were real.

Earnestly seek the fruits of the Spirit, and when they break through and become real in your life, people will desire what you have. 


True honesty is not just about 'not bearing false witness' or not telling lies.  True honesty is also about being genuine, real and having no pretences. True honesty is taking off your mask.

True honesty is about telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Somebody must have known what that meant, at the time they made up the oath.  But in its application in court, it is a contradiction in terms.  The middle bit (about the whole truth) should be left out, otherwise we start our testimony with a lie.

In God's court the whole truth will come out.  No slanted case will be presented, with success dependent upon how much money you've got and consequently how good a lawyer you can hire.  No vital bits of evidence will be overlooked or ruled inadmissible.  All of the facts will be presented, leaving no room for a doubtful verdict. 

Marriages can benefit immeasurably from establishment of open communication channels, where, by mutual agreement, unprecedented levels of self-exposure are deliberately targeted. Close family members, our children, all can benefit when we stop pretending.



There is a potential within the Body of Christ for the true flow of the Holy Spirit between close members, a place where we all can be totally honest with each other, exposing our weaknesses and sin without having to fear betrayal or rejection. It can only happen in a small group. All its members must earnestly desire the same outcome, spiritual victory, and be willing to make the same sacrifice of self-exposure, thereby making it a totally safe place.  It is a place where the Spirit can work in a way He cannot do in a large congregation. It is a place where we will finally overcome the 'flesh', by exposing it and then allowing God to deal with it. 

It is a place where the whole truth will be told.