Thursday, June 26, 2008

on honesty (2) 7 ways honesty can be helpful

When is honesty helpful? Here's a few ideas:

  1. When it undercuts pride and hypocrisy. Some of us don't talk about our sin enough, as a self-protective strategy. We may need to learn to share our struggles with others.

  2. When it is a request for counsel or prayer from a wise, trustworthy Christian. We won't get far in the Christian life without the help of other Christians to encourage and pray for us. "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (Jam. 5:16).

  3. When it comes in the context of teaching and encouraging others, during a talk, small group or one-to-one. For example, if we're discipling someone who struggles with sexual temptation, it can be helpful to share our own temptations (in a non-salacious way) and how God has helped us overcome them.

  4. When it glorifies God's grace. Speaking of our sin and weakness can shine a spotlight onto God's grace and power. "'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses" (2 Cor. 12:9, see ch. 10-12).

  5. When it brings comfort to those who feel alone. Knowing that someone else suffers from depression or anxiety, or finds it hard to pray, can take away the loneliness of suffering and sin. Of course, on its own this is not enough: we need to lead them to the One who comforts and helps.

  6. When it helps others to open up about their struggles so we can teach, encourage and pray for them. Our honesty helps others to be honest, which can be very valuable if it gives us an opportunity to minister to them. But we mustn't manipulate people into being vulnerable. An invitation to honesty should always be in the context of a loving relationship.

  7. When it helps theology become real and winsome. If I tell you that God is sovereign over suffering, it's an interesting - and maybe offensive - idea. If I share how God's sovereignty has comforted me in my own sorrow, it becomes real to you, and you're less likely to reject it without thought. My experience gives God's truth wings into your heart.
Honesty is not an end in itself. It's a stepping stone to encouragement, an invitation to prayer, and a celebration of God's grace.

I've realised that I sometimes get stuck at honesty in my relationships. It's time for the next step.

To talk not only about how difficult I sometimes find my children's behaviour, but also how I try to discipline my kids consistently and fairly. To speak not only of my prayerlessness, but also of how God is teaching me to pray. To share my sorrow and anxiety, but also the way God meets me in my deepest needs.

Honesty is not an end, it's a beginning.


Ali said...

Thanks Jean – great post. From my reading of your blog you use your honesty as a beginning and source of encouragement.

(Taking readers to the next step is the part that’s more difficult and takes more time and thought I find – and you can only do it if you’ve made it there yourself what’s more.)

Felicity said...

Thank you for your honesty, I have enjoyed looking at your blog and look forward to devouring more of it.

Simone R. said...

Months on, this is still a great post. I particularly like how you said that honesty is not an end in itself.


mattnbec said...

Having just re-tracked through the links to this, starting at Sola Panel, I'm struck again by what an insightful and useful post this is. It challenges me to think more carefully about being honest rather than just assuming it has a positive impact. Thanks.