Each of us makes many small decisions every day about being honest. Have you ever had one of the following experiences?
- Getting too much change from the cashier and not saying anything
- Padding your expense account
- Turning in more time on your timecard than you actually worked
- Fudging the numbers on your tax return so you get more money back
- Bringing supplies from the office home so you don’t have to buy office supplies at home
- Filling out an insurance claim form to your benefit
Too many times in our society honesty is a relative thing. We have people saying things like “I don’t quite remember” or “As I recall.” People use these vague terms to indicate they may be honest but they are not being absolutely truthful.
Think about a small child playing with his ball in the house. He is bouncing around having a good time and all of a sudden the ball hits a lamp and knocks it over. The lamp falls to the floor and is smashed into a million pieces. Mom walks into the room and says, “Did you break the lamp?” The child replies, “No mommy.” In his small mind, he is being honest, because HE did not break the lamp – the ball did. But if he were being absolutely truthful, he would know that he was the cause of the lamp breaking because he was playing with the ball.
Our society in general thinks much like this little boy. It’s okay to fudge the truth to get what you want or to protect yourself. The Bible says that God demands honesty – Proverbs 12:22 says “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord” and the 8th commandment is “You shall not lie.” If we are living from a Scriptural basis, then our decisions are based on what will please God not what works in society.
When you get too much change without telling the cashier or cheat on your taxes or misrepresent an insurance claim, you may think that it’s just a big business or the government or an insurance company, so there is no harm. But those large institutions are made up of policyholders, business owners, employees, and taxpayers, and those people are the ones being harmed by your dishonesty. Dishonesty always harms an individual. Any time we are dishonest, we are harming one of God’s children.
We need to do a thorough examination of conscious to find areas of our life where we may be dealing form a dishonest standpoint. As with any other time we’ve sinned, we should seek out the Sacrament of Reconciliation to put ourselves right with God. After we restore our relationship with God we need to restore our relationship with the person we harmed.
Our actions speak louder than our words. If we profess to be good Catholics then honest behavior in all situations is really an act of faith. To people who do not know Christ, an act of honesty may look foolish but even the smallest ‘white lie’ hardens our hearts. The people of God are called to be honest in all matters – even the smallest ones.
LUKE 16:10: “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones.”