The topic of discussion for this Sabbath day is honesty. Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if everyone were perfectly honest? There is a story in the Book of Mormon about a group of people who were "distinguished for their zeal towards God, and also towards men; for they were perfectly honest and upright in all things; and they were firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end" (Alma 27:27). These people were distinguished from their fellowmen and by God.
President Brigham Young taught that complete honesty is necessary for salvation. He said, "If we accept salvation on the terms it is offered to us, we have got to be honest in every thought, in our reflections, in our meditations, in our private circles, in our deals, in our declarations, and in every act of our lives" (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young , 293).
God is honest and just in everything He does. In order for us to become like Him, we too must be honest in all things. People who are honest love the truth, and they love justice. They are honest in both their words and their deeds. Our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ are Gods of truth and therefore cannot lie. In contrast, the devil is a liar. He has even been called the father of lies (see 2 Nephi 9:9). Mark E. Peterson once said, "Those who choose to cheat and lie and deceive and misrepresent become his slaves" (Ensign, Dec. 1971, 73).
What is dishonesty? Dishonesty takes many forms, among which are lying, stealing, and cheating. Intentionally deceiving other people is lying. The Lord told the children of Israel through Moses, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor" (Exodus 20:16). Bearing false witness is a form of lying. Jesus Christ taught the importance of honesty while He was on earth (see Matthew 19:18). Lying takes many forms: speaking untruths, deceiving others by a gesture, a look, silence, or by telling a half-truth. It is dishonest to lead others to believe something that is not true. Honest people speak the whole truth even when it is inconvenient or disadvantageous.
Another form of dishonesty is stealing. Jesus Christ commanded, "Thou shalt not steal" (Matthew 19:18). Stealing is the act of taking something that does not belong to us whether it is from a person, store or community. It is stealing to take merchandise or supplies from an employer. It is stealing to make unauthorized copies of music, movies, pictures, or written text. It is stealing to accept too much change from a clerk or to receive more merchandise than actually purchased.
Still another form of dishonesty is cheating. It is cheating to give less than owed or to get something undeserved. It is cheating to give less than a full day's work for a full day's pay. Taking unfair advantage is one form of cheating.
There are no acceptable reasons for dishonesty although many people try to justify being dishonest. Anyone who excuses their dishonesty, cheats themselves and loses the Spirit of God. Without guidance from the Holy Ghost, it is easier to become more and more unrighteous.
If we want to become totally honest, we must examine ourselves carefully and often. When we find ways in which we exhibit even the least bit of dishonesty, we must repent immediately. When we become completely honest, we will reach the point that we cannot be corrupted. We will be true to every trust, duty, agreement or covenant even at the loss of money, friends, prestige, or life itself. When we become completely honest, we will be able to face the Lord, ourselves, and others without shame. President Joseph F. Smith counseled, "Let every man's life be so that his character will bear the closest inspection, and that it may be seen as an open book, so that he will have nothing to shrink from or be ashamed of" (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. , 252).