It seems to be becoming increasingly common to hear someone precede a rude or nasty comment with something along the lines of “just being honest.” I’m sure you’ve heard it before. As Christians we should be honest, not tell lies. But does it follow that we are allowed, even obligated, to share our honest thoughts and feelings with others, whatever they may be? Is that really what the Bible teaches? Do we have license to say hurtful things to others in the name of honesty?
The dictionary defines honest as “honorable in principles, intentions, and actions; upright and fair, showing uprightness and fairness, gained or obtained fairly, sincere; frank, genuine or unadulterated.” There is nothing in there that says that honesty is carelessly rude or hurtful. In fact, it looks like the opposite. Hurting another person with your words is not honorable or upright. How is it then, that so many people see honesty as a good excuse to be mean?
If all you can think towards someone is hateful, nasty thoughts, that doesn’t mean you have a free pass to say mean things about them or to them because it’s what you honestly think. It means that you need to adjust your heart and pray that the Lord will remove those nasty thoughts and help you see others as His beloved children.
When someone asks for our honest opinion we are to speak the truth in love(Ephesians 4:15), not say whatever comes to mind in whatever tone we wish in the name of being honest and open. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
Telling the truth doesn’t mean sharing everything we think. We are sinful and our thoughts run awry. We are to take every thought captive and filter what we say. “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.” Proverbs 15:28 Is it edifying, will it build others up, does it give grace? Is it true, or does it portray my honest feelings are not the only questions we should be asking ourselves before we open our mouths.
Read Ephesians 4 which speaks about unity and maturity in the body of Christ. Overlooking offense, speaking graciously about others, and allowing the Lord to direct our words are marks of maturity. If you struggle with your words, consider memorizing Ephesians 4:29 and using it as a reminder to choose your words carefully.