“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” —2 Timothy 2:15
“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practicesand have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” —Colossians 3:9-10
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” —Philippians 4:8
“Whatever is honorable…think about these things.” It is important to practice honesty; that is what a Christian is expected to do. But to be honest, to be honorable, requires that our character be changed into the likeness of Christ. St. Paul says, “think about these things.” He is exhorting us to make these virtues a part of our very being. Honesty or being honorable therefore, is not simply a matter of speaking truth, it is a heart transformed into the likeness of Christ. In the parable of the sower, Jesus explains that the seeds sown in the good soil “are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15). Honest men and women hold the Word fast in their heart, and from that honest heart will flow the good fruit of God’s grace.
In his letter to Colossai, St. Paul says, “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practicesand have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” Paul is pointing toward the transformation that we each need in order to truly live the truth in Christ, and practice honesty one with another. It means having a “new nature” that is made “after the image of its creator.” We may think that a “white lie” will win a victory, but it would be pyrrhic at best. In Shakespeare’s play, Henry VIII, Cardinal Wolsey has been conniving to encourage the king to divorce his wife in hopes of establishing a marriage alliance with France. His dishonest dealings with the king lead to disaster, and in a moment of humble revelation he says to Cromwell, “I charge thee, fling away ambition. By that sin fell the angels; how can man then, the image of his Maker, hope to win by it?…Corruption wins not more than honesty.”
The practice of honesty in our interactions with others manifests the quality of our heart. It bears fruit. It leaves a legacy. As St. Paul instructed the young clergyman Timothy in the passage above, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” We are servants of Christ, workmen called to rightly handle the word of truth. We are expected to be honest in our dealings with one another. The walls of the Temple will not stand if they are built on dishonest dealings. Think on these things.