“I’ll be brutally honest with you.”
Those are words you may be more comfortable saying than hearing. While honesty is a character trait many would deem good and necessary, brutal honesty is another story.
Very often heavier on the “brutal” than the honesty, this manner of telling the truth is not sensitive or careful with feelings. Instead, brutal honesty puts a high value on truth and a low, if any, amount of value on how that truth is shared. Its intent is sometimes sincere—particularly when honesty is deemed necessary for the good of the person spoken to. But sometimes it comes at the cost of a person’s feelings or the relationship between the truth-giver and the truth-receiver.
Brutal Honesty in Scripture
A sincere, purely-intentioned kind of brutal honesty is described in Hebrews 4:12–13:
For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart. No creature is hidden from Him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account.
There are some essential facts for understanding these verses:
- God’s Word is wholly true.
- God’s Word is wholly true because it is His Word. He is perfect, holy, and the ultimate authority, so His Word is perfect, holy, and trustworthy.
- Because God is our authority, He establishes and defines truth, revealed to man through His Word. By application, He defines honesty.
Understanding these things sets our perspective on the actions happening in these verses. Second Timothy 3:16 tells us more. The Word, breathed out by a holy God, is:
- Living. God is living and eternal, and His Word is as well.
- Effective. God’s Word is also effective because He knows us! He is the all-knowing Creator and Designer, and as such, He knows everything that is in the way of us believing and living His truth—and His Word can cut through any of those sins or fleshly desires in our lives.
- Our Authority. He is the One “to whom we must give an account,” and we need to grasp that He knows and sees all. We are exposed.
Does that seem as daunting? If I was reading these verses without the context of the rest of the Bible, “daunting” wouldn’t be strong enough to convey my reaction. “Terrified and completely overwhelmed” would be more like it.
But we can know more about God’s intentions in exposing us, as we examine the verses that follow:
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time (Heb. 4:14–16).
Look at how the Exposer is described in these verses. He is Christ! He is the Great High Priest able to sympathize with our weaknesses. He has been tempted just as we are tempted, yet without sin. We are exposed, but “because of the LORD’s faithful love we do not perish” (Lam. 3:22). He is merciful!
Gutted for a Purpose
When His Word splits us open and reveals the sin and self-centeredness of our hearts and minds, He comes in with forgiveness, sacrifice, love, grace, and mercy.
Yes, it would be terrifying if we were naked and exposed before a merciless judge. But, praise Him, we are not! We’re gutted for a purpose by One who loves us and gave Himself up for us (Eph. 5:2).
God perfectly pursues brutal honesty with us and for us. His Word comes in to reveal our sin and convict us, along with full payment and an offer of forgiveness for that sin right beside it.
Sure, at first, a “double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow” wielded by One “to whom we must give an account” seems terrifying, until you grasp the One who wields it. Set your gaze on that One. Then allow His Word to do its work.
Repent and go to the throne of grace boldly to receive grace and mercy. Honestly display your heart and mind before a loving Father. Be brutally honest. Become completely forgiven. Walk in newness of life.