Our second Bible Study Preparatory class with our Man of God in the year 2013 held on the 17th of February 2013. This Bible Study Outline has been developed for all leaders of the Cell Ministry to serve as a guide for our Bible study meetings in the month of March. The outline is on the subject of ‘Honesty’ as taught by our Man of God during the Bible study preparatory class.
This outline is in 4 parts. Part 1 explains what honesty means, some synonyms and Antonyms of honesty and the reason for our study on the subject. Part 2 gives us examples of men in the Bible who served God with a perfect heart, as well as those whose hearts were imperfect; and, the importance of honesty. Part 3 acquaints us with more scriptures on honesty and how tithes and offerings in the house of God should be handled; while Part 4 shows us the consequences of dishonesty, giving reference to certain Bible characters; it also further expounds on the consequences of mishandling tithes and offerings in the house of God.
All Bible study class teachers and cell leaders are to ensure that their members have their Bibles; all the Scriptures in the outline are read during the meeting; and the members look into their Bibles while the Scriptures are read. In addition, as clearly stated by our Man of God, don’t rush through the subject as you teach; remember that our intention is to have every member of the class understand the subject matter so that they can know what the Bible teaches on the subject, and can become acquainted with the Scriptures.
TABLE OF CONTENT
- Honesty Part 1…………………………………………..3
- Honesty Part 2…………………………………………..10
- Honesty Part 3…………………………………………..16
- Honesty Part 4…………………………………………..21
-HONESTY (PART 1)-
At the end of this class each member should:
- Know the meaning of honesty, and be able to define it.
- Know the synonyms and antonyms of honesty.
- Understand the reason for our study on honesty.
The meaning of honesty
Honesty is the quality of being honest. Thus it is important to define the word honest.
The word honest means to be marked by truth or truthfulness, without pretentions, dissimulation, to be frank without fraud.
Honesty means being truthful, trustworthy, loyal, fair, honourable, genuine and sincere, but most importantly, it means to be dependable.
To be ‘dependable’ is the most important quality of honesty, because it ties all together. That is to say, someone who is not sincere cannot be dependable; if you are not genuine you are not dependable; in addition, if you are not trustworthy you cannot be dependable. Therefore, an honest person should have a dependable character.
Synonyms and antonyms of honesty:
All these qualities come out of your heart.
These are all negatives.
An honest person will be true, fair, honourable, reliable, dependable, conscientious, decent, trustworthy and impartial; while someone who is dishonest will be mendacious, prevaricating, untruthful, and deceptive.
Prevaricating- means to be purposely ambiguous with the intention to deceive. There are people who are purposely ambiguous in order to mislead others; they are deliberately unclear with the motive and idea to mislead.
Mendacious- is to be given to lying; some people are given to lying as a way of life; they are very misleading in their communication. These qualities are unacceptable to the Lord.
The Purpose of our Study on Honesty
Vessels of honour
2 Timothy 2 v 2: ‘and the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also’.
Faithful men here means ‘honest men’; men of honesty are faithful.
2 Timothy 2 V 20 – 21: But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour, If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be vessel unto honour sanctified and meet for the master’s use and prepared unto every good work’
There are different vessels, he says, in a great house, and these vessels are of different qualities. Now remember that he is teaching about human beings; that is, about people in the house and particularly this time, he is talking about those in the house of God. So in a great house, in God’s house, there are vessels not only of gold and of silver but also of wood and of earth. Which means that there are different vessels made of different qualities of material.
We have vessels of different metals, vessels of plastics, wood and so on; however, what really matters is not what the vessels are made of, but their use. Some vessels are used for water, others for waste, food; there are also vessels for different kinds of substances that you might want to preserve. So he says in a great house there are vessels of gold and of silver and also of wood and of earth and some to honour and some to dishonour.
Now what can make a vessel a vessel of honour or dishonour? The answer is Purpose. Whether or not a vessel is in its place; is the vessel serving rightly? Is the vessel in the right place?
Well, the verse 21 tells us something. V 21: if a man therefore purge himself from these he shall be vessel unto honour, which means we can decide or determine whether or not we are going to be vessels of honour or dishonour. Why is it so? Because we are all vessels in the house of God and were made for honouring God. None of us was made for dishonour because we are members of the body of Christ, and each one of us has been raised for His honour and glory, but we can decide whether we are going to be vessels unto honour; it’s our responsibility.
The Scripture says if a man would purge himself from these he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified and qualified for the Master’s use. Sanctified means separated; this means if you would prepare yourself by purging yourself; that is, putting yourself where you ought to be, you will be sanctified, set apart and qualified, ready for the Master’s use and prepared unto every good work. You’ve got a responsibility to be ready for God’s use. We have to prepare ourselves for whatever God is going to do with our lives.
Let’s look at the Scripture from the amplified version of the Bible.
2 Timothy 2: 20-21: “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also (utensils) of wood and earthenware, and some for honourable and noble (use) and some for menial and ignoble (use). So whoever cleanses himself (from what is ignoble and unclean, who separates himself from contact with contaminating influences) will (then himself) be a vessel set apart and useful for honourable and noble purposes, consecrated and profitable to the Master, fit and ready for any good work.”
This means you ought to be in a state of readiness, because you don’t know what more God wants to with your life, and this is the purpose we are dealing with this topic, so we can raise unto the Lord a people that are ready for the Master’s use; a people that would be ready to do whatever God wants; people that will be qualified and fit for any good work.
Key Things to Note
There are certain key things to bear in mind in dealing with honesty;
1. Faithfulness: When we are talking about honesty, we are dealing with faithfulness, but honesty is in a class of its own. If you talk about someone who is honest, you also dealing with his/her faithfulness. No one who is faithful can be dishonest; it’s not possible. Only faithful men are honest. However, faithfulness needs to be clearly defined because sometimes you could find people who are faithful in certain areas. A person can be a faithful student, but that doesn’t mean he is faithful in other areas of his life. You can be a faithful sports man, and so you do everything that is required in your sports. You can be a faithful banker, but that may be different when it comes to other areas of your life. However when it comes to honesty, it’s got to do with your personality; your character. An honest man is honest irrespective of any situation. You can’t be honest in some areas and dishonest in other areas. Honesty is something that follows you, anywhere you go, and in everything you do.
2. Your heart: Another thing to bear in mind when dealing the honesty is the state of one’s heart. When the Bible talks about a perfect heart, it’s dealing with a man that is honest, because honesty is a state of one’s heart.
An honest heart is a perfect heart; it is that heart that has received the Word of God, and has allowed the Word of God to carry out the changes and metamorphosis within the heart. This heart is filled with love, with kindness, and with courtesy; this heart can be touched by the Spirit of God and be corrected by the Word of God.
A child of God is teachable and will always yield to the Word of God because the Bible says all scriptures are given for reproof and for correction (2 Timothy 3 v 16). Thus a true child of God is always willing to grow and to yield to God. There are people who are unyielding. We should only be unyielding to the devil and to negative things. But amongst one another we should not be unyielding.
Notice that all these synonyms we stated earlier: sincerity integrity, candor, truthfulness, openness, genuineness, uprightness, are all the things that come out of the heart.
God expects us to be sanctified and fit for His use and for every good work. We read in 2 Timothy 2:2, where Paul said to Timothy to get faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Meaning that they were to be men who should already be accounted to be faithful as in that state, they would be prepared to receive what Timothy was going to be passing out to them, so they would teach others also. Thus, it’s so important we are in a state of readiness for God to do something with our lives. People who are dishonest are not ready to be used of God. They may learn and get acquainted with things of God; they probably even also have the Holy Spirit and but that doesn’t mean God is pleased with such people and therefore using them. You can use the power of God without God using you. For example Jesus said on the last day there are those who would come to Him and say Master we did many mighty things in your Name; we even performed miracles, and He would say I never knew you depart from me you workers of iniquity. He never knew them because they never had a relationship with the Lord. Praying and fellowshipping with the Lord are two different things. You can pray; in prayer you are talking to God, the question is, does He talk to you? Is there a fellowship or a relationship? When you are dishonest, don’t you hear the voice of God’s Spirit correcting you of your dishonesty? So what is your fellowship with the Lord like?
God wants us to be ready; He’s looking for hearts that are right, and that’s why we are dealing with this subject.
- Can someone with a perfect heart do wrong things?
- Can a perfect heart be unwilling in something of God or of the Kingdom?
Answer to discussion question
- Yes, it is possible for someone with a perfect heart to do something wrong. In this case it will be an error of his actions but not of his heart. The reason is because one who is honest can make a mistake and can be wrong. Remember, having a perfect heart and being perfect in your actions are two different things; so you may be perfect in your actions and not have a perfect heart, but you may have a perfect heart and not be perfect in your actions. But if you have a perfect heart, you will want to be perfect in your actions, because if you have a perfect heart and you are truly honest in your heart you will want to grow in the things of God by studying more of God’s Word. Remember, you judge the perfection of a man’s heart by purpose and intent.
- No: one with a perfect heart cannot be unwilling in the things of God.
-HONESTY (PART 2)-
At the end of this class each member should:
- Understand more clearly from examples of men in the Bible what it means to be honest and dishonest.
- Understand the importance of honesty.
We’ll look into some scriptures that give insight into the lives of men of old who walked with an imperfect heart and those that sought the Lord with a perfect heart.
In 2 Chronicles 25 v 1 the Bible says, ‘Amaziah was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a perfect heart’.
Amaziah the king did what was right in the sight of God but not with a perfect heart. His actions were so good that they were right in the sight of God, but the Bible says God looked at his heart and said his actions were not carried out with a perfect heart. A perfect heart can be judged with several things, one of which is provocation. Provocation is one of the ways to know a true heart. Money is another way to test a perfect heart. Some others are tested with power, which will determine if they will be honest or dishonest.
2 Chronicles 12:13 – “So king Rehoboam strengthened himself in Jerusalem and reigned: for Rehoboam was one and forty years old when he began to reign and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. And his mother’s name was Naamah an Ammonitess. And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord’.
This man went in the wrong direction because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord.
We find something rather different in 1 Chronicles 28 v 9 ‘And thou Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searcheth all hearts and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off forever’
This was David’s counsel to his son Solomon. He said, I want you to know the God of your Father and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches the heart. He doesn’t see the way men see; he searches the heart and understands all the imaginations of the thoughts. The Bible says the logos of God is the discerner of the thought and intents of the heart. God understands the imaginations of your thoughts, so you can’t have an imagination that passes by the knowledge of God.
Now this is the thing Rehoboam didn’t keep to; he didn’t prepare his heart to seek the Lord. Of course from the teachings of Solomon it is obvious that he must have instructed Rehoboam (who was his son) in the same way, but he didn’t keep to what was instructed. He didn’t prepare his heart to seek the Lord and as a result lost ten tribes of Israel, out of the twelve.
Ezra is a good example of one whose heart was after the Lord. He was one of the great reformers of the Jewish era. In Ezra 7:10 the Bible says, ‘For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach in Israel statutes and Judgements’. Ezra did what Rehoboam didn’t do, Ezra sought to know the law of the Lord; he sought to do it and to teach it. This should be your desire to know God’s Word, to do it and to teach it. And that is the purpose of the subject: to prepare your heart to seek the Lord, to do His word, and then to teach it. To be made ready for every good work, sanctified and fit for the Master’s use.
The Importance of Being Honest
Why is honesty so important to God? The reason is that when God wants something done, He looks for honest men. Now even if the Lord has a calling for your life, you will not be able to fulfil it until you are honest.
In 1 Timothy 1 v 12 the Bible says, ‘And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful putting me into the ministry’
‘Faithful’ here covers being honest, and that characterises his personality. Before God put him in the ministry he already counted him faithful; He didn’t put him in the ministry to find out if he would be faithful, rather He saw him faithful which was a quality of his personality. This is why you should prepare your heart so you can be fit for the Master’s use.
In 2 Kings 22 v 1- 7, we read of King Josiah who started a great reformation and revival in Israel when he was a teenager, as things had gone bad because of the wickedness of King Manasseh. By the time he was 26 years, he was rebuilding the Temple; however, the most important thing here is that he gathered money for the rebuilding of the temple and asked that all the children of Judah give to the Lord. They has vessels of collection at the temple so everyone could participate, and so much was collected.
When it was time Josiah gave the instruction that the money should be delivered to the builders, that is, those who were in charge of the building construction. Now these men were men who feared God. They were of exceptional positive character.
Verse 4: ‘Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may sum the silver which the keepers of the door had gathered of the people: And let them deliver it into the hand of the doers of the work, that have oversight of the house of the Lord: and let them give it to the doers of the work which is in the house of the Lord, to repair the breaches of the house, Unto carpenters, and builders and mansons and to buy timber and hewn stone to repair the house. Howbeit there was no reckoning made with them of the money that was delivered into their hand, because they dealt faithfully’.
The king asked for the money to be summed up, so the king was no loose fellow. They counted and he already knew how much it was and then said the high priest should deliver the money to the builders who were the supervisors of the work, to pay carpenters and masons and so on. There was no account with these particular men as to what was given to them, why? Because the Bible says these men dealt faithfully. If they were going to be paying all these other people it means they will be taking account of their spending but they were so trusted. These were faithful men; they were so faithful they didn’t need any policing.
But they were not the first to be like this, in the days of Joash, the same thing happened. The Bible also tells us that they dealt faithfully. Can you be so trusted that if we were to go through your records you won’t be found wanting? These men were faithful, meaning that if you go by the principle of the Master, they had been trained or tested in other matters before and found faithful.
Luke 16: 19: “He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much” From this Scripture, we see how the Master thinks. This is the policy of the kingdom: he that is faithful in little is faithful in that which is much. And he that is unjust in little is also unjust in much. So if these men were said to be faithful men, it means they were proved faithful before they were given this huge assignment, for the Bible says they were faithful men. This means they were honest men; remember when we talk about being faithful here, we mean honest.
This means, we are not only looking at whether or not someone might steal the money, it’s not just about stealing; what about misuse? What about allowing unnecessary losses? How faithful will you be if you were given a responsibility to organize something in the house of God or even at work? Would you do the right costing? Would you get the right information? Would you take the trouble to make sure that you are getting the best prices? These are things that some people don’t take into account as long as the money is not personal to them; they don’t mind that they are misusing it. They don’t mind that they are paying $25 per unit for something that should have gone for $13 per unit, because it’s not their money. That is dishonest. Even though you are not making the money for yourself, you are squandering the money that belongs to others. You are not an honest man; you are not a faithful man because you have not dealt with a true heart.
If God were to look at your work and judge the way you have handled a project, would he say you have acted faithfully? How much information did you get? Did you work hard to know the full details or requirements of this project? That is, to know exactly what is to be done? Did you get sufficient information? Did you really do all you were supposed to do? Well you could say I did all I knew; well maybe that’s your problem because you should have known more. You should have learned some more. The responsibility was yours to know more. Become an expert in the field. Once you are given a responsibility in the house of God or at work, anywhere; get all the information you must get. Search, become an expert in the field to get the job done. How do you do that? By getting expert information. We call our world today the information age. There is so much information so you have no excuse to know too little about whatever you need. First thing you need is sufficient information. You must satisfy yourself that you have studied on that field before engaging yourself and others in that project. Then you can do it with confidence knowing that you are serving faithfully. These are things that impress the Lord, and when you don’t function like this, you are unfaithful and you may not know it. Unfaithful men don’t necessarily know that they are unfaithful because the Bible says they may flatter themselves in their own eyes.
Nehemiah 7 v 1: ‘Now it came to pass, when the wall was built and I had set the doors, and the porters and the singers and the levites were appointed’ that I gave my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the palace, charge over Jerusalem: for he was a faithful man, and feared God above many’.
In this Scripture above, he was comparing this man to others. How much do you fear God that makes you faithful compared to others? The man was a God fearing man; one who had such reverence for God; such belief and trust in God, and was unwilling to offend and disobey God, and unwilling to do the wrong things: that’s the fear of God. For the Bible says it is a fearful thing to fall under the hand of the Almighty, because His judgement can be terrible; hence the apostle Paul says knowing the terror of the Lord we persuade men (2 Corinthians 5:11).
This shows the importance of this quality, so that we are men and women that are ready to be used by God, that can be found fit for the master’s use and for every good work.
- Are honesty and Integrity the same thing?
- Am I being dishonest when I do not fulfil my promises on the date of delivery to my clients or customers?
Answers to discussion questions:
- Honesty and integrity are two different things. However if you are honest you do have integrity.
- Yes, you are dishonest, if you have given your customers a date of delivery fulfil it, don’t give them unrealistic dates, deliver according to your promise. It’s dishonest to tell them you will deliver on a certain date and you don’t. If there are reasons why you cannot deliver on the due date, you have to inform them ahead of time.
-HONESTY (PART 3)-
At the end of this class each member should:
- Be acquainted with more scriptures on honesty and learn about how God chooses men.
- Know more about how the offerings and tithes in the house of God should be handled.
More scriptures on honesty:
Ecclesiastes 7 v 7 surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart’ the gift here signifies bribe; this teaches that bribery destroys judgment.
Deuteronomy 16 v 19 ‘Thou shalt not wrest judgement ; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift : for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise and pervert the words of the righteous’
The NIV translation puts it this way: ‘Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the innocent’
This is the reason God doesn’t want his children to participate in dishonest acts. God wants us to be honest; for an honest man will not take bribe, because bribery blinds the eyes of the wise.
Proverbs 17 v 23 ‘the wicked man accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the cause of justice’
How God chooses men:
In Exodus 18:21, Moses father in-law had come to visit him and observed how he dealt with the children of Israel in resolving issues and attending to their needs, and gave him counsel. He said, ‘moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties and rulers of tens’
The NIV translation says, “:‘but select capable men from all the people, men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain…’
This is what God looks at in picking leaders and those He wants to give responsibilities to. Sadly there have been people who came into leadership position and have been characterized with fraud. A situation whereby the Bible Study Class leader, cell secretary or a member of the cell who has been appointed to help with the collection, collects the offering, and thinks it’s personal property – that’s covetousness. The offerings in the bible study class should not be kept back by you, it does not belong to the group either, they are offerings, not a collection for a group. Don’t be covetous; don’t lust after funds that don’t belong to you and don’t lay claim to such, these are things you must not do. You have to be very careful sometimes because issues of money can be very dangerous. We already learnt that one of the ways you can tell if one has a perfect heart towards God or not, is his attitude towards money.
Regarding tithes and offering, in the ministry, we have clarity as to what these funds are for so all things should be done according to the laid down procedures. Collecting offerings for your personal use will destroy your life. You are not allowed to use the offering of the cell to celebrate someone’s birthday because the offering is sacred.
Let’s look at more scriptures on how God chooses men. Acts 6 v 1: ‘and in those days when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them and said it is not reason that we should leave the word of God and serve tables’
Acts 6 v 3: ”Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom…”
The apostles knew what God was looking out for in ministry; hence the first requirement on the list was men of honest report. Notice he didn’t say look out among you for men full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom and honest report; no, he started with honest report. He didn’t start out with talking in tongues.
Do you have an honest report? Do those around you know you to be honest? Honesty is a quality of one’s heart but then, it’s expressed in the things you do. Even if others don’t know the state of your heart, God knows and we’re dealing more with what God sees because we are preparing God’s people. We’re saying we want God’s people to be honest so that the Lord will find them useful in His vineyard. God wants to use you; you are not in this world by chance or for nothing, God has a purpose for your life because God uses honest people. He looks down into your heart and looks for that perfect heart that’s ready to serve him and do what is right.
God wants to use you, He has a purpose for your life but until you are honest He cannot use you.
In 1 Samuel 16, God had sent the prophet Samuel to find him a man in the house of Jesse because he wanted to pick another king after the misbehavior of Saul king of Israel, so God sent Samuel to anoint one of the sons of Jesse. Samuel went and called Jesse and his children to the sacrifice and the Bible says in verse 6 that he looked upon Eliab and said, surely the Lord’s anointed is before him. And remember Saul was head and shoulder above all of Israel and now God wanted another king, so Jesse’s children pass before the prophet and he sees the very first one who is taller than everybody here and he says ‘wow this is it; the Lord’s anointed.
Verse 7: but the Lord said unto Samuel, look not upon his countenance or upon the height of his stature because I have refused him. You can’t refuse what you’ve not considered, so this means the Lord had considered this man and turned him down. Then He said, ‘…for the lord seeth not as man seeth for men looketh at the outward appearance but the Lord looketh on the heart.’ God was looking at Eliab’s heart and turned him down. If God looks at your heart what is He going to see? That’s the reason for this study.
2 Chronicles 2 says God looked at Amaziah, and even though he did what was good in the sight of God, he didn’t serve with a perfect heart.
As a Christian or even leader in ministry, are you serving with your heart or are you serving with discontentment, bitterness and anger? What is in your heart?
- Proverbs 18 v 16 says ‘A man’s gift maketh room for him and bringeth him before great men’, is this bribe?
- Is exaggeration dishonesty?
Answer to Discussion Questions
- The same word that is translated gift’ for positive giving in the Hebrew language is also used for negative. The word bribe can be used at a light level positively and more seriously negatively. For instance, if you say ‘you gave a child ice cream to bribe him to go home with you because it was getting late’, that is a positive bribery. The word ‘bribe’ is not in itself negative but it is used negatively on a stronger term for the crime. However, what is important is the context, to know whether the writer is using it positively or negatively. For Proverbs 18 v 16 with the context in view it is dealing with the positive.
- First of all it’s important to look up the meaning of exaggeration. To exaggerate means to enlarge beyond bounds or to enlarge beyond the truth, to romanticise, to overstate or to magnify. There is positive exaggeration and negative exaggeration. A positive exaggeration will take cognizance of the realistic properties of whatever it is you are trying to describe. You might enlarge it, that is, amplify it, thus it is blown up for us to see the larger picture, but it’s not outside the bounds of truth, meaning it is not beyond the arena of revelation that has been given. Therefore positive exaggeration confines itself to all the original properties of whatever element is being exaggerated.
On the other hand, negative exaggeration will be to blow something out of proportion with the intention to mislead. When you give a story in a way that misleads judgement or that perverts justice, that becomes a negative exaggeration, which is a problem, so be careful of exaggerating your stories.
-HONESTY (PART 4)-
At the end of this class each member should:
- Learn more from examples of dishonest men and women in the Bible and the consequences of their dishonesty.
- Gain more insight into the consequences of taking from the tithes and offerings.
Dishonest Men in the Bible:
In this final chapter we will look at the lives of some dishonest men in scripture and the consequences of their dishonesty.
Saul was the king of Israel, who started out well but he changed at his latter end. We would take a look at why he changed. In 1 Samuel 15 v 1- 3 ‘Samuel also said unto Saul, the Lord sent me to anoint thee king over his people, over Israel: Now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass’
Amalek attacked Israel from behind when they left Egypt and God remembered this evil and sent Saul to destroy them, but Saul kept the best things of the Amalekites, and spared their king. And God was angry with Saul, because He had planned to wipe out the memory of the Amalekites forever, but Saul disobeyed and thus could not fulfil God’s plan.
When Samuel prophet enquired of the reason why he disobeyed God, he put the blame on the people. Verse15: “And Saul said, they have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord they God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.”
And further in verse 24 we could see the reasons for his actions. Verse 24: ‘And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words: because I feared the people and obeyed their voice’. This was the problem; Saul forgot it was God that chose him. Now he feared the people because he thought if he didn’t please the people they will take him off from office, because they were the ones who requested that God give them a King in the first place. A lot of people make such mistakes today as they think it is a man that has placed them in a position, not God.
Saul lost the throne because he feared the people – this was the consequence of his dishonesty and unfaithfulness to God. In Proverbs 29 v 25, the Bible says, ‘the fear of man bringeth a snare but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe’; the fear of man is a trap.
2 Kings 5 v 1 – 27: here we see the story of Naaman the captain of the host of the king of Syria, whose health was restored by Elisha the prophet. Naaman brought gifts for Elijah who refused to collect them; however, Gehazi the servant of the man of God in dishonesty and covetousness went after Naaman to lie and receive gifts for himself – Verse 21 to 25. The consequence of his action was seen in 2 Kings 5 v 27: the leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee and unto thy seed forever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow’. That was the consequence of his dishonesty and covetousness. He went out of Elisha’s presence a leper as white as snow. Be careful what you do with the tithes, offerings and seed offerings in the house of God because when people come to church they come with their sicknesses, pains and their problems, and as they give their offerings, they give out of their wants hoping to receive a miracle from God. Therefore to take those offerings and divert them to yourself signifies you are claiming all those sicknesses and problems of the people. Stealing from offerings will destroy your life and your future.
John 12 v 3- 6: ‘then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of the disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, why was not the ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief and had the bag, and bare what was put therein’
Judas was dishonest when he suggested the perfume should be sold and the money given to the poor; his suggestion was a dishonest one. The Bible says he said this not because he loved the poor but because he was a thief and often stole from the offering bag. Judas’ betrayal of Jesus didn’t start out in one day but he started out first by stealing from the bag before he betrayed Jesus and sold him for thirty pieces of silver. The consequences of his covetousness, greed and dishonesty were his betrayal of the Master and consequently his shameful death. Be careful with the offerings in the house of God; if you are in charge of the offerings or have been selected to count the offerings in God’s house, don’t ever take from it because it will lead to destruction.
Ananias and Sapphira:
Acts 5 v 1 -11
We find an example of dishonesty in the New Testament in the story of Ananias and Sapphira who sold their land and brought the proceeds to the apostles. Acts 4: 33- 35: ‘And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need’. However, this couple sold their land and decided to bring a portion of it and lied that they had brought all.
‘But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things Acts 5 v 1-5
Ananias heart was the problem, because there was nothing wrong in selling the land and bringing the part of it, but the fact that he brought a part in pretence that he brought all of the money was the problem. He was dishonest and the consequence was death. Three hours later in verse 8 his wife shows up in church; ‘and Peter answered unto her, tells me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much’ – she connived with her husband to lie to the Spirit of the Lord. ‘Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out (Acts 5 v 9). This was the result of dishonesty.
From the above examples in the Old Testament and in the New Testament we can see the consequences of dishonesty and how those involved all ended up shamefully or even died as a result.
God seeks to do something with your life but for Him to use you, you must be found to be honest, to be faithful and to serve with a perfect heart. If we would purge ourselves from that which does not glorify Him, we would be ready and fit for the Master’s use.
- If you report your boss who carries out a dishonest act in secret does it amount to betrayal?
Answer to discussion question
- It could be betrayal if it was out of hatred; it’s important to judge your heart, for the Bible says thou shall not hate thou brother in thine heart. Don’t be like Judas whose suggestion was out of a dishonest heart.
Some lessons learnt from the beginning of this study are:
- Honesty means being truthful, trustworthy, loyal, fair, honourable, genuine and sincere; but most importantly, to be dependable.
- If you will prepare, purge and cleanse yourself you will be sanctified; set apart; qualified; ready for the Master’s use and prepared unto every good work.
- God wants us to be in a state of readiness so we can be used by him.
- Two key things to be mindful of regarding honesty are faithfulness and the state of your heart.
- You will be accounted faithful before God can put you in the ministry.
- God has a purpose for your life but until you are honest he cannot use you.
- Stealing from the offering and tithe will destroy your life and future.
- An honest person will be true, fair, honourable, reliable, dependable, conscientious, decent, trustworthy and impartial.
- An honest heart is a perfect heart; it is that heart that has received the Word of God, that has allowed the Word of God to carry out the changes and the metamorphosis within the heart; a heart that is filled with love, with kindness, with courtesy; a heart that has being touched by the Spirit of God and can be corrected by the Word of God.