Honesty and Economy
WE read much in the press about the interconnectedness of nations' economies. We read less often about the effect that one individual's honesty can have on those in his place of work or in his neighborhood. Yet individual morality can be beneficial on many different levels.The Bible repeatedly brings out the enormous difference that the morality of individuals can make. The Old Testament tells at great length how the Israelites' morality--or lack of it--affected their lives and their nation. How do we gain the morality that will help us and our economies? Through prayer and a desire to understand our relationship to God, who is divine Truth. When we begin to see that man, as God's likeness, is actually spiritual, inseparable from Truth, we also perceive that dishonesty--untruthfulness--can't be any part of our real being. And since God is infinite Truth, it follows that untruth --or evil--doesn't really have a right to exist anywhere. Obviously, this perfect state of Truth doesn't seem very evident in view of serious corruption in business and government. But Christ Jesus showed how recognizing the ever-presence of Truth can totally change someone's life. Luke's Gospel tells of Jesus' encounter with a man named Zacchaeus, a tax collector, who was both rich and apparently not very honest. Imagine Zacchaeus's surprise when Jesus told him, "To day I must abide at thy house. Zacchaeus's response shows that something more than a social encounter was taking place. He not only received Jesus joyfully; he also declared, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfol d. The Bible's account makes clear that this transformation was a significant one. And it shows how Christ--the truth of God and man that Jesus taught--can progressively affect our world. Each organization or business is made up of individuals like you and me. And our individual efforts can influence others in a far-reaching way just as Zacchaeus's decision to embrace honesty made a difference to those around him. When our behavior stems from a desire to act in accord with our true spiritual nature, exp ressing honesty is a natural result. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "Fear of punishment never made man truly honest. Moral courage is requisite to meet the wrong and to proclaim the right. Certainly, Jesus didn't threaten Zacchaeus in order to make him act differently. Instead, the Master showed him a higher, more spiritual sense of himself. Each of us can exercise this moral courage by resisting the little temptations toward dishonesty that come into our lives--whether these involve our finances or our relations with other people. We can express personal honesty, for example, by not "borrowing supplies or tools from our workplaces with the rationalization that the company "will never m iss them. Even such a small evidence of honesty can start a chain reaction of good effects. Our exercise of moral courage builds a foundation of morality in our own lives and sets an encouraging example for others. While legislation that helps to cut away the opportunities for corruption is useful, we don't need to wait for it before we start expressing moral courage ourselves. By seeing ourselves and others as spiritual offspring of God, we are realizing that each of us does have the God-given strength to resist temptation and to act rightly. As we understand this--and live in accord with it--we are building up a foundation in our lives and in the world that will ultimately bring about a truly honest economy.