Church of Christ
Mission USA
By Perry Sexton

      Honesty is one of the greatest virtues of man.  Without honesty one cannot be pure.  Without honesty one can neither be righteous nor just before God.  Note what Webster has: “honesty n., pl. ties. 1. uprightness; integrity; trustworthiness. 2. truthfulness, sincerity, or frankness. 3. freedom from deceit or fraud.”  And: “honest adj. 1. honorable in principles, intentions, and actions; not disposed to lie, cheat, or steal; upright. 2. showing uprightness and fairness: honest dealings. 3. gained or obtained fairly: to earn an honest living. 4. sincere; frank; open: an honest face. 5. genuine or unadulterated: honest goods. 6. respectable; having a good reputation: an honest name. 7. truthful or creditable: an honest account.” 

      Just reading the definitions of the words should cause us to desire to be perfectly honest in everything!  Look at all the Christian qualities described in the definitions.  And you will gain even more by looking up the synonyms for honest.  Christians are to live lives of honesty (I Tim. 2:2).  Yet I have known of members and even preachers lying and being dishonest!  These things must not be so.  Evidently they think they are going to be saved but God says differently (Rev. 21:8).

      Often we have pondered the question why so many religious people will be lost?  Of course there are many reasons, but my answer always leads back to the lack of honesty, based upon such passages as Luke 8:15 and personal studies with people.  Why will some not do as II Timothy 2:15 instructs: “rightly dividing the word of truth”?  This is true of some brethren as well.

      Honesty is always the best policy.  A few years back one our members, Virginia, was telling us about shopping at Wal-Mart and not being charged for a pack of gum she had gotten.  Since she was not going to be back at the store for awhile, she wrote to Wal-Mart explaining the situation and sent them $1 for the gum.  She said a few days later she received a $20 gift certificate and a note expressing their appreciation for her honesty

      This was reported in USA Today (2/14/97) “A little honesty paid handsome dividends for Herbert Tarvin, 11, who drew praise for returning eighty-five cents that he picked up after an armored car crashed and spilled hundreds of thousands of dollars on a Miami street. For his honesty, Herbert, his family, and his sixth-grade class at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School spent the day at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, on the tab of Disney and Southwest Airlines. Herbert said he had to ‘do the right thing and turn the money in because it doesn't belong to me.’ Police say more than $500,000 is still missing. Only a single mother of six, who turned in about $20 in quarters and pennies, and Herbert returned the money, officials said.” 

      Honesty pays in far greater dividends than these two “rewards.”  It pays, first of all in self respect; secondly, in respect from others and most of all in eternal rewards.

       We live in a very dishonest world, but we ourselves can live honestly.  It seems everyone, even some brethren, are seeking mundane gain by unscrupulous means.  Let’s see what God revealed to the wise man for our learning: "Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right." (Prov. 16:8); "The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death." (Prov. 21:6).  Compare this with Jeremiah 17:11, "As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool."  Our Lord told of such a fool in Luke 12:16-21.  Note verses 20 and 21: "But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? {21} So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

        Even living honestly, some will speak evil of you because they themselves are evil.  Peter said: "Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation" (I Pet. 2:12).  Though some may falsely accuse us, we can have a clear conscience, knowing that we have done honestly: "Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ" (1 Pet 3:16). 

       We should not only live honestly, but we should be careful that we do not do things that others may think are wrong (cp. Rom. 14).  Paul said: "Abstain from all appearance of evil" (I Thess. 5:22).  I have heard some members say about such situations that they did not care what so and so thought, they were going to do the thing anyway.  Brethren, this is not the mind of Christ!  Paul warns: "But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak" (I Cor. 8:9).  Jesus sacrificed His life to save: shall we destroy by our selfish desires (cp. Rom. 14:15)? 

      Brethren, let us live above this old wicked world.  ♥