What ever happened to honesty? Last time I checked, the Ten Commandments still contain the words, “Thou shalt not lie.” Unfortunately, lying seems to have become a national pastime, rivaling baseball in its popularity and certainly surpassing it in terms of the numbers who engage in the practice. That point was driven home again this week by a news story about a Harvard student who had gained admission to the prestigious university by falsifying transcripts, submitting bogus SAT scores, fabricating recommendations from professors, and plagiarizing the work of others. Lest you think that this is some isolated case or limited strictly to the secular world, multiple stories in recent weeks and months have also disclosed incidents of pastors and church leaders who have embellished their resumes—claiming to have attended schools or obtained degrees when they had not in fact done so. A prominent Baptist university president is currently under investigation for apparent false claims made about his upbringing as a Muslim terrorist.
What would prompt someone to make a false claim about their own identity or qualifications? Some might suggest the desperation to get ahead and succeed without paying the necessary cost in terms of time and study. Ultimately, it comes back to a display of the basic sin nature that infects us all and presents us with the temptation to build ourselves up in the eyes of others. In Ephesians 4, Paul repeatedly urges us to practice truthfulness. We’re to speak the truth in love (4:15), to put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (4:24), and to speak truth with our neighbor because we’re members of one another (4:25). The transforming power of the gospel is to change us as we reflect God’s light: “for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth” (Eph. 5:9).
You probably remember your parents telling you as you grew up, “Honesty is the best policy.” It really is. May the truth that is in Jesus mold and shape our character so that truth-telling marks our daily lives.