IN a world where dishonesty, fraud, bribery, and corruption seem so common, it is often difficult to resist the temptation to participate. And if we don't have a specific standard of morality, dishonesty and honesty may simply seem like two equally valid choices.
Why, then, should we choose to be honest? The book of Proverbs in the Bible tells us that integrity is one of the many facets of wisdom and that to live righteously is to have a life filled with satisfaction and abundance. It says of wisdom, ``Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.... I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: that I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures'' (8:18, 20, 21).
These treasures are not material goods that may be taken from us by thieves, other people's dishonesty, or even government pressure. Instead, we have an inheritance that can't be contaminated. It is our spiritual identity as the sons and daughters of God, and it includes treasures such as intelligence, peace, purity, wisdom, and truth. These spiritual treasures are permanent. They are the fabric of our spiritual nature. In essence, living honestly is part of accepting our spiritual nature--recognizing our dependence on God and on the treasures we gain from Him as His sons and daughters.
Christ Jesus proved the value of this spiritual stance through his own honesty as he dealt with corruption among his followers and among the religious leaders of his day, and even in having to stand before political figures whose motives were less than pure. No matter what challenge he faced, the power of God was present to help him.
The advantage of relying on spiritual qualities instead of bribes, kickbacks, or fraud is that spirituality never breaks the law and, most important, never runs out. Spirituality, which is always in harmony with divine Love, God, can bring only good to us and to our fellow beings. And living honestly enables us to see ever more clearly divine Love's operation in our lives. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, explains this in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She writes: ``Honesty is spiritual power. Dishonesty is human weakness, which forfeits divine help'' (p. 453).
We discover this through a commitment to spirituality that teaches us more about our relationship to omnipotent Love, and through a change in our view of others. In other words, as we recognize that we are spiritual, we stop thinking of ourselves as needing to cheat in order to make money. We begin to see ourselves and our fellowman as spiritual beings, subject only to God, divine Love, and fully cared for by Him.
Side by side with our growing understanding of God's saving presence comes a fresh view of how we relate to our fellow beings. Instead of thinking of our neighbors and colleagues as people to ``dupe'' or take advantage of, we are seeing them as the sons and daughters of God--as our spiritual sisters and brothers. Once we gain that perspective, cheating them would be like robbing a member of our own family. It would diminish us! The more we are able to see our fellow humans as God's children, the more we will respect both them and ourselves. People respond to such respect--they desire it and they honor it.
As our love for humanity grows, our relationship to God also becomes clearer. We begin to love ourselves as His spiritual ideas and to wish to honor ourselves by expressing the integrity, wisdom, and righteousness that are truly ours. This commitment to spirituality gives us access to the spiritual power behind honesty, and it brings us enlightenment, joy, peace, and success.