|Vol. 1, No. 5||Page 8||May 1999|
A High School in New Hampshire last year started paying students to tell the truth about wrong doing. A student could receive up to $100 for telling on someone else's wrong doing. The school administration and local police believed that this was the only way to get the young people to tell the truth.
In a poll of 20,000 middle school and high school students conducted and reported last year by the Josephson Institute for Ethics, 47% of high school students admitted to stealing from a store in the past year. Seventy percent admitted to cheating on an exam. And listen to this -- 88% of the middle school children said they lied to their parents while 92% of the high school students admitted such.
Our country is in grave ethical danger. When our highest elected officials state that lying under oath to a Grand Jury (regarding lying to your spouse about a sexual tryst) is just not an important issue (everyone does it, they say), then we have serious problems.
Supposedly, as long as an individual performs certain duties well, it makes no difference whether he lies in other duties. Supposedly, as long as an individual is honest in certain areas of his life, it matters little if he lies in other areas.
But this is not what God says. We are not only to provide honest things in the sight of men, but before God as well (2 Corinthians 8:21). If we are to be honest before God, then we are to be honest at all times; for God sees all at all times.
Some individuals, including our Congressmen, are trying to tell us that it is ok to be dishonest as long as it is in minor affairs. As long as you are honest in what they consider to be big matters, no one should point a finger at your small dishonesties.
But again, God answers such reasoning. In Luke 16:10, we read, "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." God recognizes that the man who is dishonest in little things, will be dishonest in the big things, especially when he thinks he can get away with it.
A person gains confidence in something as he practices it. This holds true no matter what it is he is practicing. If a man routinely lies in small things, he will gain confidence in his power of lying as he gets away with his lies. He will then try to get away with bigger lies. It is a never ending process. Evil promotes more evil.
Honesty not only demands true speech but true actions. Not only are lying lips an abomination to God (Proverbs 12:22) but so are false balances (Proverbs 11:1). A man must be honest in his business dealings. In Biblical times, weights were used on a balance to determine the cost of an item. Some businessmen would shave their weights or add to their weights to make the deal go good for them. A modern application of this would be the car salesman who takes some things from a car which was priced to include what he took. The salesman would then sell the thing he took "again". The principle is restated in Deuteronomy 25:13-15. A person must be honest in small and large things.
Honest men are regarded well by God. God told Moses to choose men of truth for certain important tasks (Exodus 18:21). Almost everyone knows that the scriptures teach a person to honor their father and mother. And by doing this they will have long days upon the earth. But the same promise of long days was given to the Israelites if they would be honest people (Deuteronomy 25:15).
The dishonest person cannot have a place in God's tabernacle -- heaven (Psalm 15:1-2). As we have shown, it matters not whether the dishonesty is in a "small" matter or a "large" matter. The little white lie will separate one from God the same as the big black lie. To live in heaven one day, an individual must have "the truth in his heart."
Philippians 4:8 states, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
Many "good" folks who are religious like to praise God. Many of them like to think about heaven. Many of them will do almost anything for those they like. But many of them will not give the difference back if the cashier gives them too much change. A good number of them will "cut" the corners when reporting their income tax. More than likely they will tell the lady at services that her new ugly dress is pretty and looks great on her. These folks tend to leave off one of the very important things that they are to think on -- honesty.
And there are leaders in the religious world who are not honest in their teaching of God's word. Second Corinthians 4:2 talks about the individuals who walk in craftiness and "handle the word of God deceitfully." They do this because they know others will follow them. They know that sometimes what God wants us to do is difficult for many people. So, they lie to them and twist the scriptures to make them say what the people want to hear. These religious leaders will not be received well by God. In fact, God will not receive them but instead will banish them to eternal punishment.
Since honesty is hand in hand with truth, consider what we are to do with truth. We are to worship in it (John 4:24), we are to love it (Zechariah 8:19), we are to rejoice in it (1 Corinthians 13:6), we are to meditate upon it (Philippians 4:8), we are to bind it about our necks (Proverbs 3:3), we are to teach it (1 Timothy 2:7), and we are to execute judgment with it (Zechariah 8:16).
God is perfectly honest. At the day of judgment he will tell us the truth about our lives. He will judge us in all honesty with "a just weight and balance" (Proverbs. 16:11), according to our deeds. Will you be able to say at the Judgment before God that you "have corrupted no man" nor "defrauded no man" (2 Corinthians. 7:2)?
Is your desire the same as the writer of Hebrews in chapter 13 verse 18, "Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly"? We pray and hope it is.
As I grew up I never questioned his place in our family. Mom taught me to love the Word of God, and Dad taught me to obey it. But the stranger was our storyteller. He could weave the most fascinating tales. Adventures, mysteries, and comedies were daily conversations. He could hold our whole family spellbound for hours each evening. He was like a friend to the whole family. He took Dad, Bill, and me to our first major league baseball game. He was always encouraging us to see the movies and he even made arrangements to introduce us to several movie stars.
The stranger was an incessant talker. Dad didn't seem to mind, but sometimes Mom would quietly get up - while the rest of us were enthralled with one of his stories of faraway places - go to her room, read her Bible, and pray. I wonder now if she ever prayed that the stranger would leave. You see, my dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions. But this stranger never felt an obligation to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our house--not from us, from our friends, or adults. Our longtime visitor, however, used occasional four letter words that burned my ears and made Dad squirm. To my knowledge the stranger was never confronted. My Dad was a teetotaler who didn't permit alcohol in his home - not even for cooking. But the stranger felt like we needed exposure and enlightened us to other ways of life. He offered us beer and other alcoholic beverages often. He made cigarettes look tasty, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely ( too much too freely) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing. I know now that my early concepts of the man/woman relationship were influenced by the stranger.
As I look back, I believe it was the grace of God that the stranger did not influence us more. Time after time he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked and never asked to leave. More than thirty years have passed since the stranger moved in with the young family on Morningside Drive. But if I were to walk into my parents' den today, you would still see him sitting over in a corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures.
His name? -- We always