Proverbs 26: Honesty Is the Best Policy
Posted by Zak Schmoll
The Bible has an awful lot to say about our words, and Proverbs 26 counsels us on things that we should not be saying.
Pro 26:28 A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.
This verse is interesting because we have two types of deception here. The first problem is lying. In other words, we are being dishonest for our own benefit. The second problem is flattery. We are being dishonest for somebody else’s benefit. In either situation, someone is benefiting, but the proverb clearly advises against either one.
Why? To speak as a utilitarian, what if greater net benefit is created? What if I am more well off by telling the lie than the people I lied to are hurt by it?
I think that one thing that is very important to keep in mind with deception is that there are many other costs associated with it. For example, yesterday we talked about the importance of honesty and how we want to be discerning. By doing that, we damage our credibility. Once you are caught in a lie, your credibility goes downhill. That is certainly a cost of either of lying or flattery. People won’t know when we are being honest or when we are simply saying what they want to hear.
Dishonesty can also have implications that reach farther than we could ever imagine. If I lied to someone, they might use that information as part of their decision-making process. It might change the decision they would make in the future which could then change another decision. I know that this is only a theoretical slippery slope, but I think that we have all made a decision or two based on bad information.
Overall, I think that based on what I read yesterday and today, it is very clear that the Bible does not appreciate dishonesty in any form even if it might seem to have some positive side effects.