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, July 6, 2019

Honesty Is the Best Policy

            For my “Come, Follow Me” studies this morning, I studied about the leadership of the Apostle Peter in Acts 5. This chapter begins with the story of a man named Ananias and his wife Sapphira. This couple made a solemn covenant with God to have “all things common” (see Acts 4:32-35), but they were not honest in their dealings.

            The scriptures say Ananias and Sapphira sold a certain piece of property and then lied to their priesthood leader about how much money they received for it. Peter confronted Ananias for his lies and said that he had lied to God. When Ananias heard Peter’s words, he died and was buried. Sapphira came along about three hours later but did not know of the death of her husband. Peter confronted her about the lies, and she died.

            It seems a little shocking that both husband and wife would pass away so suddenly. What was the cause of their deaths? Did they both have weak hearts, or did God strike them down? Then-Elder Gordon B. Hinckley spoke about this scriptural account in the April 1976 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In our time those found in dishonesty do not die as did Ananias and Sapphira, but something within them dies. Conscience chokes, character withers, self-respect vanishes, integrity dies…. We cannot be less honest, we cannot be less than true, we cannot be less than virtuous if we are to keep sacred the trust given us. (See “An Honest Man – God’s Noblest Work,” Ensign, May 1976, 61-62.) 

            We live in a day where it seems that everyone is dishonest. Numerous areas in our nation are going through a period of time when all kinds of vehicles are stolen. Sometimes the vehicle itself is not stolen, but items left in it are stolen. I try extremely hard not to tempt thieves by keeping things out of sight and preferably locked up.

            Another area of dishonesty is apparent in politics. So many politicians are dishonest about events taking place in our nation that the average, everyday American has difficulty digging out the real truth. It seems that certain politicians do not know the difference between truth and lies.

            Last Monday a group of Democrat lawmakers visited two facilities located on the southern border, one in Clint, Texas, and one in El Paso, Texas. The facilities are dangerously overcrowded because of the hordes of illegal immigrants entering our nation. These same Democrats have fought time after time to deny funding to improve the situation on the border, so there was little surprise when they condemned what they found. However, their outright lies are causing a lot of problems for themselves and others. Border Patrol, Republicans, and others now have to go out of their way to respond to the claims and to prove the lies. This is time and effort that could be invested in much better ways.

            How are we supposed to handle such blatant dishonesty in the nation? In many cases we must confront the liars in order to protect ourselves and others. In all cases we are to remain honest ourselves because honesty is the best policy and will bring blessings. Bishop Richard C. Edgley, then a member of the Presiding Bishopric spoke on this topic in the October 2006 General Conference.

There will never be honesty in the business world, [in politics], in the schools, in the home, or anyplace else until there is honesty in the heart.

Important and lasting lessons are often taught through simple examples – perhaps as simple as three towels or a 25-cent newspaper. I wonder how the world would be if simple lessons of honesty were taught in the home at an early age, simple lessons such as “Love your neighbor as yourself” (see Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31) and “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” (see Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31). I wonder where thousands of displaced employees would be today with their lost pensions if some business people in high places had early experiences of three towels or a 25-cent newspaper.

Honesty is the basis of a true Christian life. For Latter-day Saints, honesty is an important requirement for entering the Lord’s holy temple. Honesty is embedded in the covenants that we make in the temple. Each Sunday as we partake of the holy emblems of the Savior’s flesh and blood, we again renew our basic and sacred covenants – which encompass honesty. As Latter-day Saints we have a sacred obligation to not only teach the principles of honesty, but also to live them, perhaps with examples as simple as three towels or a 25-cent newspaper. Honesty should be among the most fundamental values that govern our everyday living.

When we are true to the sacred principles of honesty and integrity, we are true to our faith, and we are true to ourselves.  (See “Three Towels and a 25-Cent Newspaper,” Ensign, November 2006, 74.) 

            Bishop Edgley’s stories about the three towels and the 25-cent newspaper are interesting. They are also great stories to use in teaching – or remembering – his counsel to be honest. I encourage you to follow the link to his talk. He mentions shady business deals several times, but I am not sure what they concerned. He gave this talk a few months to a year or so before the 2008 financial crisis that was caused by the subprime mortgage crisis.

            These events ushered in what is known as the Great Recession, a time when millions of people were out of work. As terrible as those times were, they cannot be compared to what will happen in the United States if politicians continue to lie and deceive Americans about what is happening in our nation.

            Our President continues to be investigated for colluding with the Russians about the 2016 even though he has been cleared by several investigations. Thousands of illegal aliens are crossing the border every single day, and our immigration system does not have the capacity to handle such hordes of people.

            There are all kinds of problems in our nation that are caused by dishonesty. We can vote the dishonest politicians out of office, but changing dishonest hearts is much more difficult. This effort starts with one person at a time. Will you join me in developing honesty and integrity in the heart and striving to spread these qualities into all the areas of our lives?

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