Thirty or forty years ago if you had asked someone if they were honest or truthful, they would have looked at you as if you had two heads. Back then there was no discernable difference between the two.
However today, our attitudes have changed so much that people often manipulate their words and actions so they are scrupulously truthful without being absolutely honest. Unfortunately the act of being absolutely truthful without being honest is acceptable in our secular society.
Judges 17:6 reads: “In those days there was no King in Israel; everyone did what he thought best.” When we act in the ways acceptable to the secular world but unacceptable to God, we are acting as if God is incapable of discovering our dishonesty and disciplining us.
Society’s attitude of relative honesty is the opposite of what we learn in scripture. The Lord requires absolute honesty from all of us in every area of our lives. “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who are truthful are his delight.” (Proverbs 12:22)
Many people are feeling frightened and uncomfortable with their financial situation at this time. It is human nature to try and avoid the feelings of fright or discomfort, yet acting dishonestly is never an acceptable way to make ourselves feel better. When we act dishonestly, we are acting as if God is not able to provide exactly what we need, so we take matters into our own hands and manipulate situations to our benefit.
All of us make many small daily decisions about being honest. Do you deal honestly in all areas of your life, even the smallest ones? Or do you quietly smile and pocket the extra money when the cashier gives you too much change? Have you ever sold something and not been entirely truthful because you may have lost the sale? Do you cheat on your taxes – even just a little? Do you bring supplies home from the office for personal use?
When we act dishonestly we are deceiving another person. We may fool ourselves into thinking it’s just a business, or the government, or an insurance company. But the victim is always a person and ultimately it is the business owner, the taxpayer or the other policyholders we are hurting. In these situations we are directly harming one of God’s children.
Our actions speak louder than our words and acting dishonestly dims the light of Christ shining within us, erodes our faith response, and tarnishes the Christian life that others see in us. Every decision to be both truthful and absolutely honest fulfills our role as Catholic Stewards.
There is an old saying ”You might be the only Bible that some people read.” Make sure the Bible people read when they see your actions accurately reflects the light of Christ. If people are looking at your actions as a means of reading the Bible, be sure they are reading the Good Book!