Honesty and honour are a couple of words that I am a big fan of. I love honesty – I think the more honestly we live our lives, the better we get along. Honour is essential – if we act without honour to those around us we risk causing them pain, becoming known as untrustworthy and as someone who is dishonest.
So are they the same thing? I would say no. Much of the characteristics that are demonstrated when we are honest and honourable are very similar, however, as the title of this blog could suggest, they are easy to misuse.
What does it mean when someone says ‘I am just being honest’? In my experience it means that you are saying something that you know will upset someone, but want to say it anyway. It is a self justification for being unkind, or a way of getting away with saying something more aggressive than people will otherwise tolerate. Other phrases might spring to your mind, but another that has been pointed out to me is ‘with respect’, which translated means ‘I am about to disrespect you’. I suppose one could be greatful for the warning.
I am thinking about this at the moment because I have seen ‘I am just being honest’ used on more than one occasion on twitter and facebook over recent months (by more than one, read several). It has come, largely, from Christians and I feel that perhaps we need to reassess how we communicate if we feel the need to make such statements publicly.
Social media always has the potential to go further than perhaps we would like it to. It is a public forum where people can see what we are saying to each other. This requires that we are considered in what we post, not with the intention of hiding who we truly are, or of putting on a front, but because, if we want to live in such a way that glorifies God, then this has to encompass every area of our lives.
In 2 Corinthians 5:18 Paul says ‘God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation’, if we therefore have the ministry of reconciliation should we not watch what we say to ensure we do not cause conflict?
This does not mean losing all provocation from our social media interactions – Jesus himself was provocative. Questioning why we are being provocative though would be pretty helpful, is it for the benefit of the reader, or is it to prove a point? If our only goal is to prove that we are right, are we not perhaps causing a conflict where there does not need to be one?
Romans 15:1-6 talks about how we should behave towards each other,
‘We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbours for their good, to build them up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” 4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’
The question is, how do we live out such teaching on social media? If we are writing things for the good of others, not to please ourselves, then perhaps sometimes in order to prevent ourselves getting into a place of public argument and statements of ‘I am just being honest’ and is something we feel really needs to be said, would it not be better placed in an email? A direct challenge to the individual who spoke, rather than publicly might have more of an effect.
On the occasion where we are saying something to challenge someone, or cause a justified provocation publicly there is cause to be considered. How do we phrase what we want to say? What is the target audience, and what is it that we are hoping our statements will achieve?
The thing about social media, is it is so easy to send a quick fire response. At this point we start digging a hole, that often we then start frantically trying to back track out of, hence the phrase – ‘I am just being honest’.
Accepting the point that we are redeemed by the death of Jesus on the cross, that we are sons and accepted for everything we are, that our sins are paid for and we cannot separate ourselves from God means that we can speak from that position of security. From that we can choose not to take offence, and we can choose to understand that everyone comes from their own experiences that have shaped their view of the world. Having the grace to think about this before responding, and deciding who we are trying to benefit in responding could help us all.
I must say, I do love a bit of theory and bible – however, putting it into practise is the slightly more challenging aim! My brilliant mentor mentioned the phrase – ‘every encounter needs to be redemptive’. Perhaps this is the line by which we judge what we write. I for one am going to give this a whirl. Correct me where I get it wrong…..
I have written this after conversations with various people including my wonderful mentors Charlie and Jenny, and the amazing Vicky’s. Just for the sake of giving credit where credit is due and all….