The world in which young people live makes it so easy to be dishonest in regard to truth. Think how easy it is to cheat on examinations in school. In fact, we see so much cheating that we must be careful lest cheating appears to be normal to us. It is easy to believe that everyone does it, so why should not we? When we get involved in real-life situations, and under pressure during an exam, or meeting a deadline, it is not so easy to think as clearly as we should.
The key to making the right decision in the face of such pressures is to realize that the problem begins and ends with ourselves, and that Jesus should be our pattern. We may be influenced by teachers, and buddies, and the gang and the crowd, but the decision to cheat or not to cheat remains fully in our own hands.
Anita Vinson in a little booklet entitled, Putting Christ in Your Classroom, writes: "Jesus is familiar with the little temptations and trials of the classroom. As the Son of God, He set forth principles that will help us. He even died for us so that we might be able to be closer to Him and be able to know that we are not alone when we face that History examination. However, there are two conditions that you must meet if Christ is to be on your side. You must put him first in everything you do, and obey His teachings as found in the New Testament."
The word "honesty" or some form of it, occurs eleven times in the King James Version of the New Testament. Paul urges the Romans to "provide things honest in the sight of all men" Romans 12:17. He urges Christians to live "in all godliness and honesty", I Timothy 2:2. You recall that in Christ's parable of the seed and the sower, he refers to the man with the "honest and good heart", Luke 8:15. Honesty is a quality that is taught again and again in the Bible.
What do you suppose Jesus would have done if he had had the opportunity to cheat in some of his boyhood classes? Do you suppose he would have reasoned, "Well, what's it going to hurt? No one will ever know."
If you and I are Christians, we must guide our actions by Christ's standards, regardless of what anyone else does. We could never imagine Jesus cheating on a test or in any other way.
When you are faced with the opportunity to cheat, pray for the courage to use the occasion as an opportunity to portray sterling Christian character and honesty before your friends. Your example could be the very thing that would lead to some private conversations with them, opening up opportunities for Bible study and even conversion.
There are many classroom situations which you will face as a student, but the criterion for decisions will always remain the same: What would Jesus do if He were in your shoes? As a student, realize the value of your school days for making an impression for Jesus. Use them, in honesty and godliness, for the glory of God.