Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Honest in All Things

                    Are you honest?  Honesty includes being true to oneself as well as being honest with other people and with the Lord.  Being honest in all things requires a constant, conscious effort, but it brings many blessings, such as self-respect, love of others, and eventually all the blessings that the Lord can offer.

                    We must be honest in both word and deed in order to have integrity.  There are lots of ways to be dishonest; some of those ways include cheating, stealing, lying, and telling only part of the truth.  In addition, there are other more subtle ways to be dishonest, such as remaining silent when someone else is lying.  Also when we are dishonest, we are usually dishonest with numerous people.  For example, when a student cheats in school, he is not only cheating himself but also his classmates, teachers, and parents.  If a professional cheats in training, he would also be cheating his patients or clients of having a more qualified doctor, lawyer, etc.

                    Elder Marvin J. Ashton, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, stated:
"[After] 50 years … some former students recall with lasting appreciation the words one teacher had her class repeat at the beginning of each day.  Every school morning this [teacher] implanted the meaning of honesty into our minds by having us recite `A lie is any communication given to another with the intent to deceive.'  A lie can be effectively communicated without words ever being spoken.  Sometimes a nod of the head or silence can deceive" (Ensign, May 1982, 9).

                    Anytime we cause or allow someone to believe something that is not true, we are being dishonest.  To be worthy to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father, we must learn to be honest with ourselves, with others, and with the Lord.

                    The Lord explained to Moses about the premortal life and a council meeting held there.  Heavenly Father explained His plan for the eternal happiness of all His children; after He had explained His plan, two of His greatest Sons came before Him and volunteered to help Him.  Lucifer said, "Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.
                    Then Jesus Christ - whom the Father called "my Beloved Son" - said, "Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever."
                    Lucifer did not accept being passed over and rebelled against God.  Because he rebelled against God "and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down;
                    "And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice" (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 4:1-4).

                    Lehi, an ancient American prophet, taught his family about agency and how they were free to follow Jesus Christ and to choose liberty or eternal life or they were free to follow Satan and to choose captivity and death.  He also told them that Satan "seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself" (Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 2 Nephi 2:27; emphasis added).

                    When we are dishonest, we have been deceived or blinded into following Satan.  We must be honest with ourselves and other people as well as with God.  We are dishonest with ourselves when we fail to accept responsibility for our own decisions, words, and actions and instead blame other people or circumstances; we are dishonest with ourselves when we fail to understand that choices have consequences; we are dishonest with ourselves when we fail to recognize our own strengths and weaknesses.

                    It is important to be honest with ourselves about our own thoughts and actions; if we are honest with ourselves, we will recognize what we must do in order to become more like the Lord.  We also will recognize that we can ask for God's help in overcoming our weaknesses, and that we are responsible to thank God for our blessings.

                    Being true to ourselves helps us to be honest with others; this is true because when we are honest with ourselves, we develop a sense of honor and self-respect.  We then can apply this same honor and respect in our relationships with other people.

                    Pride, greed, manipulation, hate, rationalization, and fear of discovery keep us from being honest with others.  For example, if we are filled with pride, we may be more concerned about our reputation than the truth because we all want others to think highly of us.

                    Dishonesty leads us into captivity to Satan.  If we are dishonest and do not repent, we may continue in more dishonest behavior.  If we tell a lie, we may need to tell a second lie to cover the first lie; then we may need to tell a third lie to cover the second lie.  If we commit one dishonest act and do not repent, we often have to continue being dishonest to avoid being caught.  This pattern of dishonesty can destroy relationships with others and damage our standing with the Lord.

                    In reply to a question about what he believed and taught, the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote thirteen basic beliefs, which are known as The Articles of Faith.  The Thirteenth Article of Faith states:  "We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul - We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things.  If there is anything virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things" (Pearl of Great Price, The Articles of Faith 1:13).

                    Being honest can help us in "doing good to all men."  Anyone who is trying to "do good" will not lie, cheat, rob, or steal.  They will instead try to follow the Savior's Golden Rule and treat others the way they want to be treated.

                    "A seminary teacher had been teaching his class the importance of honesty and had stressed that often we do not know when our honesty is being tested.  One day he gave a quiz in class and collected the papers.  He graded them at home that night and recorded the scores, but did not mark any of the papers.  The next day, he returned the papers and asked the students to grade their own tests and report their scores.  Most students reported high scores.  "John?"  "85."  "Susan?"  "95."  "Harold?"  "80."  "Arnold."  "90."  "Mary?  … Mary?"  The response was very quiet:  "45."  Once all the scores were recorded the difference between the two scores was revealing.  Many students had reported higher scores than the teacher had recorded when he graded the tests himself.

                    An unusual silence settled over the class when the teacher explained what he had done:  `This was a different kind of test.  This was a test for honesty.  I noticed that many of you looked at Mary when she announced her score of 45.  I want each of you to know that in my book Mary just achieved the highest score in class" (Family Home Evening Resource Book [1983], 195).

                    We must not only be honest with ourselves and our fellowmen, but we must also be honest with God.  In Ecclesiastes 5:4-5, we read:  "When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools:  pay that which thou hast vowed.
                    "Better is it that thou shouldst not vow, than that thou shouldst vow and not pay."

                    A vow or oath is a promise.  When we make a promise to God, it is called a covenant.  As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have made vows - or covenants - with God.  I promised to take upon me the name of Christ, meaning to be known as a follower of Christ.  I promised to always remember Jesus Christ.  I also promised to keep all His commandments.

                    In return for my keeping these promises, God extends several promises to me.  He has promised that I might have His Spirit to be with me always (Doctrine and Covenants 20:77).  He has promised me great treasures of knowledge (Doctrine and Covenants 89:19).  He has promised me eternal life (Doctrine and Covenants 14:7).

                    It is very important to me that I honestly keep my covenants with God.  Why?  "I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise" (Doctrine and Covenants 82:10).  The Lord is bound to keep His promises if I am true to the covenants I make with God!

                    I know that there are many blessings that come from being honest with ourselves, with other people, and with the Lord.  I know the importance of being honest in all things.  I want God to be able to trust me as He trusted Hyrum Smith:  "And again, verily I say unto you, blessed is my servant Hyrum Smith; for I, the Lord, love him because of the integrity of his heart, and because he loveth that which is right before me, saith the Lord" (Doctrine and Covenants 124:15).  I know that we can all develop the same kind of integrity of heart that God saw in Hyrum Smith!  I know that we can all be honest in all things - if we so desire!  I encourage all my readers to remember the promises the Lord has made to those who are honest and faithful.

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