Teach children about the importance of truth with these honesty bible stories and activities.
My almost four-year-old is going through a phase. She has been entertaining us with these elaborate stories about things she has seen and done. She’s not trying to be deceitful. But once told, the tale becomes a part of her own life story and she can no longer tell the difference between what’s “real” and what’s “pretend”.
It’s pretty common at this age and normal development for children 2 to 6 years old. But it made me think about how important it is to be honest – honest with God, honest with our loved ones and friends, and honest with ourselves. And then of course there are those little ‘cover-ups’ she’s testing out to see if she can get away with sneaking that cookie she knows she shouldn’t!
Why is honesty important?
We all want to raise our children to be honest – not to cheat at school, lie or sneak. For my family, building an understanding of truth in these early ages will be the foundation (I hope) for having those open and candid conversations with my girls when they are teens.
Honesty is more than just telling the truth. It’s about being authentic and encouraging our children to be real with themselves and their friends about who they are. It’s the foundation of strong, genuine and loving relationships. Builds integrity. And it allows us to live a life that is empowering and free.
The Bible teaches us how much God values honesty (Prov. 11:1). Most importantly, we learn that Truth is one of God’s attributes. The Old Testament refers to the Father as the “God of truth” (Deut. 32:4, Ps. 31:5, Is. 65:16). Jesus spoke of himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). We see the Holy Spirit is called the “Spirit of truth” (John 14:17). All truth comes from God as the source of everything that is right, just as He is the source of all love in the world.
How to encourage honesty in children
1. Value honesty
Show your child how much you value honesty in your relationship. Explain to them that when they’re honest, they gain your trust which means they can have more freedom in their choices and actions.
2. Be an example
Honesty is a two-way street. My children know that if they ask me a question, I will tell them the truth in an age appropriate way. Whenever possible, keep your promises. If you have to break a promise, explain why and apologize. Think carefully about your own words when speaking with others. Many times, we don’t even realize we are lying. We may exaggerate a story or find ourselves caught telling “white lies” to spare someone’s feelings. These are the perfect learning opportunities for your family!
3. Discuss and teach
Explore what the bible has to say about honesty such as what happened to Abraham (Genesis 20:1-28), Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5), or Achan (Joshua 7). For more ideas, check out the honesty bible stories and activities later in this post.
4. Encourage truth
Let them know you will love them, no matter what. Show understanding and forgiveness when your child is caught in a lie. Then give them an opportunity to rectify the situation: “I’m going to give you a moment to think about what you told me, and then I’d love to hear the truth about what happened”. Acknowledge that telling the truth must have been very hard for them and how glad you are that they did.
5. Expect it
Give your child logical consequences, instead of punishment. How are they different? Punishment is rooted in anger and retribution whereas consequences are the direct result of an action. The goal of consequences is to help our children make a better choice the next time. It encourages them to accept responsibility for their actions and helps them learn from their mistakes. For example, when my daughter tried to get away with sneaking a cookie from the cupboard, my logical consequence was “no treats” for a set period of time.
Teaching Kids About Honesty
Zacchaeus – The Honest Tax Collector
One of my favorite stories to teach about the value of honesty is the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10)
One day Jesus traveled through a town named Jericho on his way to Jerusalem. A big crowd had gathered to see him, including a man named Zacchaeus who worked as a tax collector. Tax collectors gathered money from the people to give to the government. Some of them were dishonest and took more money than they were supposed to and kept the extra coins for themselves. Zacchaeus wasn’t honest. He got very rich from other people’s money.
But then Zacchaeus met Jesus. He was curious about who he was and climbed a tree to see Jesus over the crowds (he was very short). As Jesus came by, he stopped right under the tree where Zacchaeus was waiting. Jesus looked up at Zacchaeus and told him to come down because he wanted to have a visit with him at his house!
When we have done something wrong, like Zacchaeus had, it can be hard to tell the truth. We might be tempted to lie so that we don’t get in trouble or disappoint other people. But lying always hurts us and separates us from the people we love. Being honest sets us free and connects us together.
Zacchaeus eagerly took Jesus home with him. He felt God’s love and forgiveness for all his dishonesty in the past. Meeting Jesus changed his heart. He wanted to make things right! He promised to give 4 x more than he took and shared his wealth with the poor. He became a follower of Jesus and lived his life with honesty in both his words and actions.
1. Who was Zacchaeus?
2. Why didn’t people like him?
3. How did Jesus treat Zacchaeus?
4. How did Zacchaeus change after meeting Jesus?
5. Why is honesty important in our relationships with other people?
Key Bible Verse
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. ( 1 JOHN 3:18 NIV)
An Object Lesson about Honesty
Show how lies separate us from God and our loved ones while honesty and forgiveness connect us together.
For this object lesson you will need two magnet bars with N/S poles.
Give your child one bar magnet and hold the other. Slowly move the bar magnets together with the same poles facing each other (both are N or both are S).
Can you feel the force pushing each magnet away from each other?
Lies are like this magnetic force that separates us from God and from the people we love.
Now flip one bar magnet over so that opposite poles face each other and try the same experiment (one N and one S).
What happened this time?
Can you feel how the force now pulls the magnets towards each other and connects them together? Try to separate them and you can feel how strong this new bond is between them!
Being open, honest and forgiving one another for our past mistakes is the “glue” that binds us together. It builds strong relationships with the people we love and with Jesus.
Honesty Acrostic Poem Activity
- Write the word HONESTY down on your paper vertically or sign up for our Newsletter and Stay Connected at the end of this post to download and print your Free HONESTY Poem template in the printables below. Capitalize each letter!
- Brainstorm words and ideas that describe what honesty means to you.
- Now look at your ideas. Start each line of your poem with a phrase that begins with the capital letters you wrote down. This can be tricky but fun!
Free Honesty Affirmation Cards
We finished our lesson by coming up with an Honesty Affirmation to remember the kind of person we want to be.
I am true to myself
I stand up for what is right
I am honest and truthful in all I say and do.
Come up with your own or sign up for our Newsletter and Stay Connected at the end of this post to download our free printable cards featuring our lesson’s Key Bible Verse and Honesty Affirmation for them to memorize and recite. Share your creations with us in the comments below!
Ronda Thompson says
Hi there…I was wondering if we are allowed to use the little cartoon video to show at our vbs this summer….there will prob be around 25 kids. Thanks…. it was well done.
Hi Ronda, thanks for reaching out. The video featuring Zacchaeus’ story was produced by Crossroads Kids Club and posted for public viewing on YouTube. They have a whole series of ‘God’s Story’ cartoons! If you want to confirm if there are any viewing restrictions, you could follow up with them directly. Their website is https://crossroadskidsclub.net/ I hope you have a a wonderful VBS adventure! If I can help out in any other way, let me know!