That "honesty is the best policy" is believed in most circles even in our present age, but are we honest because it pays or are we honest because it is the right thing to do? Honesty for expediency's sake is not the honesty that will take us through to the kingdom of God. It should be more than a policy; it should be a way of life.
The world's recognition of values is so distorted that honesty today is old-fashioned. Man's vision of moral life is so myopic that he can't see beyond himself or the present. What we considered standards of good character not many years ago are today merely platitudes or something to provide sermon material for the preacher, but not for everyday life.
We used to speak of statesmen, but that word is as antique as honesty. Not long ago these two words were almost synonyms, but the original meaning of both of them seems today to be obsolete. The words politician and diplomacy set the standard for our present way of life. Most people are interested only in what will benefit themselves whether in finance or glory.
How About You
"To thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou can't not then be false to any man." But how many of us are honest with ourselves? The Seventh-day Adventist Church believes in the law of God and advocates the necessity of abiding by these precepts even today. In years gone by we have been considered legalists because we have preached the law, the term suggesting that we made the law more important than Christ. We don't seem to be thus stigmatized today, which is probably a good thing, for preaching the law without Christ can save no one, but preaching the law with Christ is still necessary. Are we now leaning the other way by preaching Christ without the law, in word or deed, in order not to be out of step with other churches? What might an attitude like that do to the standard of the church or to our own standards of good character?
As defenders of the law of God, shouldn't we also be the first to advocate the keeping of the law of the land by both precept and example? "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's" surely means that we should be obedient to the laws of Caesar if they don't conflict with the laws of God. Of course we think we keep the laws of the land, for we don't harm anyone nor do we take anything that does not belong to us. But are we absolutely sure?
Really, how circumspect in this regard are we as Seventh-day Adventists? I quote from Testimonies, volume 4, page 310, "I am pained to make the statement that there is an alarming lack of honesty even among Sabbathkeepers." In some places Adventists—yes, even preachers—are a poor risk for the auto insurance companies. Isn't this a reflection on our driving integrity? Going to one camp meeting, a whole fleet of cars was stopped by the State patrol for speeding. What a travesty on our message of obedience to law! The greatest evil or danger in our standards of Christian living is not that it has been done but that it is considered as a joke, or something to boast about.
Slow Down, Brother!
It is sad to say, but to break the speed laws or evade or outrun the police is thought of as an accomplishment by some. It makes a wonderful story and inflates a person's ego, and how a man swells with pride when he holds the speed record from a certain place to another. Today the big tales about a man's driving have displaced the old fish story about the "one that got away." The guilty ones of whom I am speaking are not the vandals on the city street corner, nor the juvenile delinquents looking for "kicks." They are our so-called solid citizens, if you please; yes, even preachers. How will a young man react to sound principles and on what will he base his standards when his father suggests that he keep an eye out for the speed cops so they won't get caught?
Dishonesty Prevalent Today
Are we honest with ourselves when our foot rests too heavy on the accelerator and our eye is on the rear-view mirror to slow down quickly if needed? Shouldn't we do right for right's sake and not for fear of punishment? Isn't it too bad that dishonesty in driving is so prevalent today? Could it be that in the day of judgment this might be a mark against some of us that has never been blotted out?
Dishonesty enters a great deal into the driving habits of the present, but it can, if permitted, enter into almost anything we do. Are we as preachers faithful in putting in at least our required hours of work? What about that last car deal we had; was it completely above board? To those of us who are missionaries and who have to cross customs borders, do we try to pull the wool over people's eyes? The temptation to save money on our small salaries is almost irresistible, but is it right when principle is involved?
I am afraid that today a modern Diogenes would have a difficult time to find an honest man even with a searchlight, say nothing of a lantern, but surely they should be easy to find among Seventh-day Adventist preachers. Our word should be as good as a contract, and no one should lose his way through a dishonest act of a Seventh-day Adventist minister, because there shouldn't be a dishonest one among us. How about it?