William Shakespeare wrote “Honesty is the best policy. If I lose mine honor, I lose myself.” How important is honesty in the Christian home? Honesty is vital. God calls us to be honest with him and with people around us. Honesty reveals who we really are: our actions, words, and decisions flow from our hearts and attitudes. Our honesty glorifies God and points people towards him while our dishonesty pushes people away from a holy God. Choosing honesty is not always an easy decision; that’s why choosing honesty when it’s hard has the power to strengthen our faith in God. That’s what we want for our children!
How can parents teach honesty to our children? We have to model honesty in our actions and in our words because our children are watching us. Often, it’s the “white lies” that trip us up, so parents need to be alert to our words before we speak. Be careful not to set children up to lie to us. Instead of saying, “Who broke this plate?” say “I want to know if something gets broken to make sure you are okay and so I can replace it.” The first question creates the opportunity to say “I don’t know” while the second sentence makes telling the truth safe.
Tell stories from your life where you’ve faced a decision on whether to be honest or not—talk about the decision itself, the emotions and reasons involved, and the consequences of your decision. Role-play situations where a decision to be honest or not must be made. Use Bible stories to talk about how honesty may not be easy, but it is what God wants from us. For example Daniel told several kings the truth—even though he knew the truth might displease them. Zacchaeus was transformed by meeting Jesus; he showed it by promising to pay back everyone he had cheated.
Honesty is not just a nice trait to have. It’s at the core of who we are as followers of Christ, and it can be nurtured in our children.