Question & Answer Forum

How can I protect others when, by telling the truth, I will create problems for them?

Never be a talebearer who betrays a confidence or volunteers to tell what has not been asked: “A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter” (Proverbs 11:13). More likely, the issue is. “how may I avoid speaking truth when it will be unkind to another?” Lying or denying truth are clearly not options. Even selectively telling part of the truth is dishonest if it leaves a different impression upon the one who asked. You may suggest the questioner speak directly with the individual involved if he must know about the matter. You may also suggest that he consider the matter from that person’s perspective. In that light, the truth may not be as detrimental to the other person. “Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry” (Proverbs 6:30). They do not excuse theft but they understand the thief!

J. Slabaugh

How do I deal with a Christian when I believe he has been untruthful with me?

The New Testament statement, “lie not one to another” Ephesians 4:25), clearly indicates believers could be untruthful with one another. Examples from Scripture underline God’s displeasure with untruthfulness: Cain lied about his brother (Genesis 4:9); Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:4). To be helpful, it would be prudent, after much prayer, to show the apparently untruthful believer the serious view that Divine Persons have of their action. The suspecting believer is thus attempting to convince him to be transparent and honest. Remember, there is more convincing power in the Word of God than in our own attempts to correct our brother.

H. S. Wells

When should I ignore offenses against me and when I confront the offender?

Three passages answer the first part of the question. “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.” (Proverbs 19:11). In Matthew 18:22, when the Lord taught Peter to forgive “until seventy times seven,” He discouraged keeping count of others’ wrongs. It is not right to remember with resentment or with a view to paying back. “Taketh not account of evil” (1 Corinthians 13:5, RV) is in keeping with this teaching.

Luke 17:3,4 touches the second part of the question: “If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.” Here are the alternatives: rebuke him or forget it. If I must rebuke him, the Lord Jesus teaches, “tell him his fault between thee and him alone” (Matthew 18:15). If there is a good possibility of restoring him from wrongdoing, Galatians 6:1 teaches me to confront him “in the spirit of meekness.” When there is professed repentance, the Lord instructs me to forgive, since only God can measure its genuineness.

W. Gustafson

What can a parent do to cultivate honesty in a child?

The first Principle in the development of any moral virtue is the example of the parent. Manoah’s wife must be a Nazarite if she is to have a Nazarite son (Judges 13). Be honest in all your dealings, even with your children.

Praising good role models, especially within the assembly, is vital. Hold up their virtues, especially if it has cost them. Take every opportunity to teach from the Word of God the value of honesty and morals. “Sharpen by repetition” is the expression of Deuteronomy 6:6-9. Do not sermonize. The Word of God is to control the home, mold our behavior, and be the theme of our family discussions.

Look for opportunities. Use current events to help children appreciate the long range effects of sin and the effects of any behavior being universalized. When evil seems to triumph, have the child consider what would happen if everyone behaved in this manner. Prayer, patience and discipline are vital. Praise honesty but don’t “reward” it with material gifts.

A. Higgins

Does honesty require me to answer a question with all the information I have?

When the high priest charged the Lord to tell if He were the Christ, the Son of God, He responded with a complete answer. By His reference to Scripture (Daniel 7:13; Psalm 110:1,2; 2:2,7), He provided sufficient information to fully answer the question, although He could have said more. Therefore, an answer need give only the information requested.

A response that hurts the hearer or injures his relationship with another will not edify or impart grace to the hearer (Ephesians 4:29). There must be a better answer.

D. Oliver