YOUNG PEOPLE ASK
Why Be Honest?
Why some people are dishonest
In today’s world, honesty could seem to be a disadvantage. After all, some might reason:
‘If I don’t lie to my parents, I could get grounded.’
‘If I don’t cheat on this test, I might fail it.’
‘If I don’t steal this item, I’ll have to save up for it.’
‘Besides, what’s the big deal?’ some might ask. ‘Isn’t everyone dishonest?’
The answer to that question is no. Many people—including a large number of young people—believe that honesty pays, and for good reason. “Whatever a person is sowing, this he will also reap,” says the Bible. (Galatians 6:7) In other words, our actions always have consequences—whether for good or for bad.
Consider, for example, some bad consequences people have reaped from lying.
“I lied to my mom about talking to a certain boy. She had clear evidence that I wasn’t telling the truth. After the third time I lied about this, Mom had had enough. I was grounded for two weeks and could not use my cell phone or watch TV for a month. I never lied to my parents again!”—Anita.
To think about: Why might it take some time for Anita to regain her mom’s trust?
The Bible says: “Now that you have put away deceit, each one of you speak truth with his neighbor.”—Ephesians 4:25.
“I lied to my parents and thought I got away with it until later when they made me recount what I said had happened. It was so far from the truth that I couldn’t even remember the details of my story. When you tell the truth to begin with, you don’t have that problem!”—Anthony.
To think about: How could Anthony have avoided that embarrassing situation?
The Bible says: “Lying lips are detestable to Jehovah, but those acting faithfully bring pleasure to him.”—Proverbs 12:22.
“I have a friend who embellishes her stories. She exaggerates and takes things out of context. I love her and I try not to read too much into it. But it’s really hard to believe her or trust her.”—Yvonne.
To think about: How might exaggerations and “small” untruths affect the reputation of Yvonne’s friend?
The Bible says: “We wish to conduct ourselves honestly in all things.”—Hebrews 13:18.
Why honesty pays
Now consider some of the good consequences you can reap by being honest.
“A woman walking ahead of me had dropped some money. I called out to her and returned her money. She was so thankful. She said: ‘That was very nice of you. Not many people are honest enough to do that.’ It felt good to be noticed for doing the right thing!”—Vivian.
To think about: Why might the woman have been surprised to see such honesty? How did being honest benefit Vivian?
The Bible says: “Happy are those who . . . always do what is right.”—Psalm 106:3.
“As a family, we work in the janitorial business, and sometimes while we’re cleaning an office, we’ll see a coin lying on the floor. When that happens, we put the coin on the nearest desk. One employee was almost annoyed that we were so honest—‘It’s just a dime!’ she said. But you know what? We always had her confidence.”—Julia.
To think about: How might Julia’s reputation for honesty pay off when she needs a character reference for another job?
The Bible says: “Do your utmost to present yourself approved to God, a workman with nothing to be ashamed of.”—2 Timothy 2:15.
“I received a paycheck for 80 hours of work instead of 64. Although it would have been nice to keep it, I just couldn’t do that. I pointed it out to the accounting manager, and she was very grateful. The company is successful, but I wasn’t about to keep what would have felt like stolen money.”—Bethany.
To think about: Is stealing from a corporation any less dishonest than stealing from a person?
The Bible says: “Jehovah detests a devious person, but His close friendship is with the upright.”—Proverbs 3:32.