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Teaching Honesty
‘No dishonesty is worth the price I will have to pay for it—inward conflict and unhappiness.’

Over the years, I have read several reports in which adults stated that they would lie if they considered it “necessary.”

People often consider honesty as an option only to be used when it suits them. Of course, this world is totally deceived and lives the way of the father of lies (John 8:44).

God has never lied, and lying is one of the sins He hates the most (Proverbs 6:16-19; 12:22).

He says in Proverbs 21:6, “Getting treasures by a lying tongue is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death” (New King James Version).

Children form lifelong values from their earliest preschool years. Therefore, God places the responsibility on the parents’ shoulders for instilling morals in their children.

In Deuteronomy 6:6-7, God gives two important keys for effectively teaching children. First, we should become living examples, following God’s laws in our own lives.

It is of little use attempting to teach our children the Word of God if our lives are not governed by that Word. Our children should see that we live in the very atmosphere of Scripture; that it forms the material of our conversation when we sit in the bosom of the family, and in our moments of relaxation. God states in Deuteronomy 6:7 that He requires us to use everyday circumstances to train our children in His ways.

Always tell your children the truth. The words you speak should be clear, completely true and uncompromising. Your attitude of honesty will be reflected in your children’s attitudes as well.

Be watchful of dishonest habits in yourself. Don’t get into “social white lies”; children quickly pick up on these.

Along with your example is the need to teach your child not to lie. Explain cause and effect—clearly set out for your children good and evil. Educate their consciences. If you teach honesty well, they will remember it all their lives (Proverbs 22:6).

Ensure that you establish firm standards in your home. Tell your children what to expect if they lie, and then carry through with the punishment. More importantly, reward children for progress, and praise them when they tell the truth. Show that you are really pleased with them; our confidence in our children will cause them to want to please us.

When children ask for an explanation of a complicated subject, you can make it simple without straying from the truth. Once they mature, you can build on what you have already taught them.

Consistency is of utmost importance to successful teaching and training; do not let things go, otherwise you will not reinforce how important honesty is.

Children need to recognize that it is not always easy to tell the truth. It sometimes takes courage to stand up for what is right. Perhaps you could discuss a hypothetical situation. For example, what would they do if they found a wallet or purse on the street? You could discuss situations you have faced in your own life.

Teach them to judge wisely when faced with a dilemma.

Teach them that being honest doesn’t necessarily mean revealing all one knows, but everything one reveals should be true.

The liar has an excuse for every mistake; therefore, he never faces up to the reality of his situation.

Sadly, the person of true integrity is rare, but he or she will be blessed. If you instill honesty early in your child’s life, he or she will have an asset no one can take away.

I read a short story of a man in India who daily drove a cow and calf from door to door and milked the cow in the presence of the housewife. Why did he have to trudge in the hot sun day after day in this clumsy way of selling milk? He could not be trusted. He would water down the milk unless he milked it before the eyes of the housewife, so his dishonesty doomed him to this drudgery!

Dishonesty puts sand in the machinery of life. Honesty puts in oil.

As one man said, “No dishonesty is worth the price I will have to pay for it—inward conflict and unhappiness.”

How important it is to think on these things.