How Honest are You?

Several years ago in Bangor, Maine, a man knocked on the door of a minister late at night. He said, "I've been walking up and down the street wondering if I should disturb you. I need someone to talk to".

He was on a first assignment with a well-known consulting firm of New York City, evaluating the operating of a failing company of Bangor. For a fee of $25,000, the consultants were to determine the reasons for the losses of the company, and to chart a way to profits.

"I worked for months to get this job" he said. "It's just what I wanted. But, though it's easy to see many faults in its operation and cite remedies, I am convinced that we are charging this company an exorbitant fee far beyond its power to absorb and far beyond the proper charge for the services we are rendering. Should I resign and tell the board of the company how I feel? My responsibility to my family disturbs me. Do I have the right to renounce a good salary and impose hardships on my family until I get another job?"

The minister did not tell him specifically what to do. He did tell him that to be honest with all concerned was far more important to him and his family than any financial consideration.

He resigned, renounced any salary or payment for his expenses, and presented his views personally to the company. He went home to wait out tile obtaining of another situation. It was an instance of an effort to be honest.

Politicians often pose a credibility gap with false promises, innuendoes, malicious slander and selfaggrandizement. Advertisers falsify by every subtlety of misrepresentation. Merchandisers "fix prices", manipulate measures, misrepresent wares. Service people overcharge, "Manufacture" defects and make shoddy repairs. Professional people prey on the helplessness of the ignorant and weak with exorbitant charges and meaningless actions. Taxpayers evade their legal obligations. Religionists are hypocritical.

There are exceptions in every category, but dishonesty is so common in our modern society that all of us are tempted to practice it. Most of us know what it is to salve our consciences with our rationalizations. Our rationalizing is our dishonesty with ourselves. Our first challenge is to correct this, for if we do not do this we will correct no other kind of dishonesty. Men can deceive themselves and be honestly unaware of it. But no person can be honestly unaware of all his falseness to himself. Honesty with ourselves requires the examination of our motives in all things. Honesty with self, will lead to honesty with others, for all men know that the conscious misleading of others has in its nature dishonesty with one's self. We all know that every lie leaves us with something to confess or to rationalize. In religion we find it difficult to receive the word into "honest and good hearts" (Luke 8:15).

Our reading of the Word of God is often not with the view of being taught and changed, but with the view of proving that we are "right" in what we have believed and practiced. We refuse to look at scriptures that do not fit our finished formulas - or, if we look at them, we "force" them to fit our earlier conclusion. And, if someone does not accept our "forced" interpretations, we are tempted to call up epithets by which to destroy him.

Our motives in this may be our pride in our "rightness" or our fear of the loss of our "security" in our positions or our fear of what our associates who do not agree with us may think and do.

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