The Increase of Dishonesty
Jimmy Tuten, Jr.
Dishonesty is by no means a new sin, but is a predominant factor in society. Brethren were warned of this tendency in New Testament times: "Provide things honest in the sight of all men" (Rom. 12:17). 1 have no doubt that the Apostle Paul had honesty in mind when he referred to his past conduct among the Corinthians, by saying, "receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man." (2 Cor. 7:2, underscoring mine, jt.). The word "honest" in the former passage is from the Greek term, "kalos," meaning excellent. Modem usage defines it as "free from fraud," "fair in dealing with others," or simply upright and equitable. A Christian cannot be dishonest and please God at the same time.
People today take dishonesty for granted and label honesty as "old-fashioned." Shoplifting is common, purse-snatchers are on the increase and pickpockets are working at will.
A Look At Modern Society
In all cities, the greatest fear of crime is among businessmen in the broad belt between downtown and suburbs. Loaded firearms are kept under counters, chain link fencing covers many windows, and in some cases customers have to ring a doorbell before they can enter a shop. This is what dishonesty does to society! Add to this high cost of precautions against stealing, etc., and the loss in money is great indeed. Guard service, extra lighting, mirrors, new windows and alarm systems are expensive. A supermarket may lose $25,000 to shoplifters in a year, but additional thousands are spent over the same period to try to prevent theft. It's alarming, is it not?
The following figures from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Aug. 13, 1969) presents an interesting picture: "robberies in the United States cost businessmen $77,000,000 a year. Bad checks cashed in their stores cost $316,000,000. Damage from vandalism is $813,000,000. Burglars steal $958,000,000. These losses would buy 124,100 homes valued at $25,000 or finance the operation of three states the size of Missouri." Where is it all going to end???
Honesty Is Essential To Society
Rousseau remarks, "A country cannot well subsist without liberty, nor liberty without virtue." Obviously our modern society thinks it can do without godliness and has invented some morals of its own. People have been conditioned to think that the ideal is "the greatest good of the greatest number." Everything depends on what is meant by this expression. We might exclude the soul and make the "greatest good" a secular paradise. Where then is moral loveliness in the form of godliness and honesty? Earthly pleasure at the expense of the soul is a great price to pay for one's folly. Society must change its attitude toward the virtue called honesty. Dishonesty is destroying the liberty we now enjoy.
Honesty Is Essential To The Christian's Life
Each Christian is a citizen of heaven (Phil. 3:20; Eph. 2:19), but his feet is upon the earth! There is no spirituality where honesty does not exist in the life of the child of God.
(1) We must be honest in deed: Whether we are a teacher, a house wife, an insurance salesman, an artist, or whatever, we are to see to it that the stamp of honesty is on all that we do. Providing things honest in the sight of all men must begin with the Christian as an individual. Until the virtue of integrity affects us as individuals, no effect can be made on society. Honesty begins with the individual. Only then can we say, "We wronged no man" (2 Cor. 7: 2).
(2) We must be honest in word: We must not pretend to be what we are not; "better honest silver than counterfeit gold." It is disturbing to note that the greatest sin in word is that of lying. A lie is a false statement made with the intent to deceive, something intended to convey a false impression. There are different kinds of liars: those who say they have fellowship with God and walk in darkness (I Jno. 4:20), and those who say they love God but hate their brother (I Jno. 4:20), to name a few. The Christian must put away lying and speak to every man the truth (Eph. 4:26; Jas. 3:14). God hates "a false witness that speaketh lies" (Prov. 6:19). This attitude is demonstrated in the severity of punishment given to the ones who committed the first sin in the church, i.e., lied (Acts 5:3). The fate of all liars is revealed in the Scriptures.
(3) We must be honest in our convictions: We must be true to ourselves and act out what we think. "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy" (Jas. 3:17). Hypocrisy has no root and cannot stand the test. Well did Job say, "knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon the earth, that the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment?" (Job 20:4-6). What God needs in the world today is a people who are steadfast and unmovable, always abounding in the faith (I Cor. 15:58).
(4) We must be honest in dealing with our brethren: Some of the greatest sins are committed in this area. They are too numerable to mention. But perhaps Paul's words will give insight into this field: ". . . we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, and we have defrauded no man" (2 Cor. 7: 2). We must deal fairly with those who are our brethren in Christ. But alas, brethren sometimes are the most vicious of liars.
If life is to be peaceful and holy, if it is to influence others for good, it must avoid the sin of dishonesty. "I exhort therefore . . . that we lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty." (I Tim. 2:1-2)
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 7, p. 3