Thursday, 23 June 2016

Honesty and Politeness

Honesty is better than politeness. - Cyrus

I've heard this a couple of times. One example is when someone asks you "How are you?"
The polite answer: I'm fine, thanks.
The honest answer: (well, this depends on how you actually are. Be honest!)

By answering with the polite answer, you've missed an opportunity to connect with the person who asked you how you were.

So after I heard this idea, I tried answering questions honestly, rather than politely.

That didn't go too well. Some of my honest answers weren't helpful to the person who had asked me the question. Sometimes, what I was thinking and said honestly was the wrong thing to say and it was hurtful to the person I said it to.

The thing is that while honesty is important, it's not the most important thing. When asked about the greatest commandment, the two commandments that Jesus talked about shared a common theme: Love.

So my modified statement is that honesty is better than politeness, but it has to be honesty tempered with love. Honesty tempered by fear is politeness (I'll say the truth unless it will make you not like me), but honesty tempered with love says "How can I build up my brother or sister in Christ?"

Ideally, in the end, our thoughts will all be ones of love, and we will be able to speak honestly without thinking about tempering our words with love - our words will be of love just because that's what is in our hearts. But personally, I'm not there yet. My thoughts aren't all pure. But by God's grace, I'm learning to speak from love rather than from fear or other motives.

I am not the man I ought to be, I am not the man I wish to be, and I am not the man I hope to be, but by the grace of God, I am not the man I used to be. - John Newton (paraphrased)

Honesty + Love > Politeness

S. D. G.


  1. I really like this, Jag. Tempering honesty with love also results in situational awareness, I think - knowing when to say what to whom.

    This whole concept is something I've struggled with, honestly. I feel like superficiality is something we struggle with, perhaps especially in the church. And it's frustrating. Knowing how to navigate it can be equally so. I've tried to be more honest, too, but sometimes love says that this person's woes are more important than mine, so my answer turns into "Oh, I've had worse days. How are you doing?"

    Honesty vs. Politness is a fascinating topic to explore in this age of political correctness and saving face. I'm glad you posted this. It's good to hear from you! :)

  2. Good post, Jag! I like this. It's very true, and tough to hold to sometimes. :) I always fire off the I'm good, How Are You response, unless I'm with someone I trust. And even then, it's difficult sometimes to open up about how I'm really feeling.

    By the way, I've nominated you for the Daily Quotes Challenge! Check it out here, if you're interested: