Honesty and Integrity

And again, verily I say unto you, blessed is my servant Hyrum Smith; for I, the Lord, love him because of the integrity of his heart, and because he loveth that which is right before me, saith the Lord.     (D&C 124:15)

The Lord is happy when we do what is right and seek to be honest in all that we do.  As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all…” (Article of Faith 13).  I had the opportunity today to teach the young men ages 16 and 17 and our lesson was on the importance of honesty.  I had WAY more material than I had time to share so I wanted to post some of those thoughts here.

Several weeks ago, someone in Sacrament meeting shared a story called “The Empty Pot” which is a folk tale about a boy who shows great courage and integrity.  Here are a couple of different accounts of the same story:

http://www.storiestogrowby.com/stories/empty_pot_china.html

http://betterlifecoachingblog.com/2010/05/04/the-emperors-seed-a-story-about-integrity/

As I read this story, I thought, why was the action of the little boy courageous?  Integrity often takes courage to do what is right even if the stakes are high or you might get mocked.  Why were the other children tempted to produce a plant but not from the seed they were given?

Honesty is a measure of character and we will all be tested in this matter.  Sometimes the incentive to be dishonest is high, such as the possibility of being emperor over all China.  Sometimes it is popular: all the children had plants growing so the temptation was to look good or to fit in you also needed a plant growing.  In any case, it is important for us to be honest regardless of the circumstances.

I read another story about Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin when he was playing football:

Another lesson I learned on the football field was at the bottom of a pile of 10 other players. It was the Rocky Mountain Conference championship game, and the play called for me to run the ball up the middle to score the go-ahead touchdown. I took the handoff and plunged into the line. I knew I was close to the goal line, but I didn’t know how close. Although I was pinned at the bottom of the pile, I reached my fingers forward a couple of inches and I could feel it. The goal line was two inches away.

At that moment I was tempted to push the ball forward. I could have done it. And when the refs finally pulled the players off the pile, I would have been a hero. No one would have ever known.

I had dreamed of this moment from the time I was a boy. And it was right there within my reach. But then I remembered the words of my mother. “Joseph,” she had often said to me, “do what is right, no matter the consequence. Do what is right and things will turn out OK.”

I wanted so desperately to score that touchdown. But more than being a hero in the eyes of my friends, I wanted to be a hero in the eyes of my mother. And so I left the ball where it was—two inches from the goal line.

I didn’t know it at the time, but this was a defining experience. Had I moved the ball, I could have been a champion for a moment, but the reward of temporary glory would have carried with it too steep and too lasting a price. It would have engraved upon my conscience a scar that would have stayed with me the remainder of my life. I knew I must do what is right.”

(Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Life’s Lessons Learned,” April 2007 General Conference)

What did Elder Wirthlin’s experience cost?  He definitely didn’t make the touchdown for his team, he could have been hailed as a hero and the crowd was expecting him to score.  His choice may have even cost the team the game.  However, it was the right choice and he maintained his integrity.  Honesty is a test of character and Elder Wirthlin passed this test.  How easy would it have been for him to move the football?  We need to strive to be honest in all that we do regardless of how inconsequential the action may seem or how easy it would be to be dishonest.

Here are some more questions for you to consider:

  • Why is it important for you to be honest as a student? as a spouse or parent?  as a son or daughter? as an employee? as a friend?
  • What are the consequences of dishonesty and why would Heavenly Father want us to be honest in all of our actions?
  • Have you ever seen the effects of either honesty or dishonesty in your life or in someone’s life that you know?
  • How do people sometimes justify being dishonest?

Ultimately we all know right from wrong and we can tell, even in the minor cases, when something is dishonest:

For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.
For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him. (Moroni 7:15-17)

When we are honest, we earn trust and respect.  We build stronger character and we are able to serve Heavenly Father better.  We are better guided by the Holy Ghost and we will be happier as a result.  We will have a clear conscience, greater self-image, stronger friendships, and more courage.  Sometimes the blessings of honesty aren’t immediate or always apparent but they are there and we can trust in that.  I am grateful for the examples of honesty and integrity in my life and I am trying to be more honest in my dealings and I would encourage you to do the same!  Have a terrific week!

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