Honesty seems like a pretty literal issue to teach to kids – something is usually either a lie, or not a lie (at least when dealing with the under-10 set). It’s not a murky issue in the Bible either, which is full of stories of people being killed on the spot for lying (Ananias and Sapphira, Achan, to name a few). The Bible also makes it very clear through the ninth commandment, throughout the letters of Paul, and in the Proverbs that lying is an affront to God.
But how do we show our kids examples from the Bible that won’t scare them, like the stories of Ananias and Sapphira? How can we show them how much God loves truth – that indeed, God IS truth – and encourage them to live truthful, faithful lives? Here are 3 Bible stories and passages to help teach your kids about honesty.
3 Bible Stories That Teach Your Kids About Honesty
Your kids (and you!) probably know the song about Zacchaeus, the wee little man who climbed up in a sycamore tree. But Zacchaeus’ story has an important lesson about honesty! Zacchaeus was a tax collector, known for how rich he had become – likely by being dishonest and keeping some tax money for himself. But one day, Jesus came to Zacchaeus’ town and Zacchaeus had the chance to meet him. In fact, Jesus went to his house!
What Zacchaeus did next was amazing! He told Jesus that he would give half of his possessions to the poor and that he would pay people back 4 times what he had cheated them. Not only does Zacchaeus see the error of his ways, but he has a total change of heart. He no longer wanted to live a dishonest life, but an honest one – because he came to know and believe in Jesus.
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This is a short proverb about the importance of being honest. The NCV translation says it well – “A truthful witness saves lives, but a false witness is a traitor.”
Read this proverb with your kids, and then ask them to think of an example (real or fiction) of this statement. This will help them see the emotional consequences of lying, and will help them internalize the importance of always telling the truth.
Ananias and Sapphira
The story of Ananias and Sapphira is not a fun one! Ananias and Sapphira were a married couple who sold their land and gave the proceeds to the disciples – only they didn’t give all of the money. They lied, telling Peter that it was all of the money when in fact they had saved some back for themselves. When Peter confronted them, they died!
While sudden death seems like a very harsh punishment for lying, it shows us how much God hates dishonesty. Tread lightly as you have a conversation about this story with your kids, perhaps reserving it only for older kids. You can have a discussion about how much God hates sin, and how he hated sin so much and loved us so much that he sent his son Jesus to defeat the power sin forever. By connecting this scary story with the gracious character of God, you can show your kids that God is holy – and his holiness leads to his hatred of sin, and his desire for all people to live in peace together with him.