A few years ago, author Ralph Keyes argued that America had moved “beyond honesty” and that honesty is now “on the ropes” as a virtue.
Another writer, Po Bronson, added: Encouraged to tell so many white lies and hearing so many others, children gradually get comfortable with being disingenuous. Insincerity becomes, literally, a daily occurrence. They learn that honesty only creates conflict, and dishonesty is an easy way to avoid conflict.
In contrast, the Bible holds up the importance of telling the truth. Here are two verses from the Book of Proverbs that give parents some good parameters to use when teaching truth-telling in their homes: “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment …The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.” (Proverbs 12:18, 22)
Here are some suggestions for building your home on truth.
- Be a truthful person yourself. Parenting is all about modeling. Mark Holman writes this: “Faith is not something that can be taught; faith is something that must be caught. Moms and dads are two to three times more influential than any church program.”
- Become a character-building home. Our children need to learn that we are all about character training and less about outward conformity. I love the title of a book I read recently because it says it all: “Parenting is heart work.”
- Remember that you are raising young women and/or young men. Unhealthy habits learned when your kids are young can become part of their character when they are older.
- Celebrate truth-telling. When a child tells the truth make sure you acknowledge and applaud them for doing the right thing. I like what Mark Twain once said, “When in doubt, tell the truth. It will confound your enemies and astound your friends.”
- Enforce consequences for lying. The more lying is tolerated, the more our children will lie and get away with it, and the more likely they are to make it a habit. Tell them that lying always makes the original problem worse.
- Expect confession and the seeking of forgiveness when a lie is told. Teach your children to say something like this: “I was wrong when I lied to you. Would you please forgive me?”
- Measure your response when the truth is told. Many kids say that they lie because they are afraid of their parents’ response if they tell the truth.
Pastor James MacDonald and his family have five values that they’ve painted on their living room wall: “Love God, Family First, Work Hard, Be Kind and Tell the Truth.” I like what he says about the last one: “Tell the truth even when it’s painful. Even when it’s going to get you into more trouble. Just get the truth on the table. God can do a lot with that. Don’t mess with the truth, don’t measure truth, and don’t muddle truth. Just model it and mouth it. Truth will get you to all the right places as a family. God Himself will make sure of that.”
Good words to ponder today. With God’s help, let’s put lying on the ropes and establish our homes built on the truth of God’s Word, with our foundation anchored to the truth found only in Jesus Christ. Your kids are under construction and you are charged with giving them a good base to build on.
Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. —Psalms 127:1