I have had experiences as an adult and as a kid when I was asked to do things I didn't feel right about doing. I knew the difference between right and wrong, but at the time I felt scared about saying no, especially when the situation involved people I wanted to like me.
Once my boss asked me to go look at dresses with her for a social function she was attending. At first I said yes, but when I heard her tell her boss we were going to look at towels for the place where we worked, I knew it wouldn't be right to go. It took courage to face her, and perhaps make her angry, but I asked if we could go on my lunch hour because I had work to do (which was true). She said that was fine, and that's what we did.
When I was younger and in school, a friend asked me to "lend" him my homework so he could copy it. I knew it was wrong to help another person cheat, and you aren't being a friend by doing so.
Here's what my prayer for guidance sounded like:
"Am I being selfish for not sharing my homework?"
"Do you care about your friend?"
"Then care enough about him to risk him not liking you."
"What does that mean?"
"You never help someone by doing something for them that is really their job to do. What if your friend had a test today on the very lesson that homework was about? Would he be ready for that test?"
"OK, then, love your friend enough to say no and don't be afraid of the consequences."
I didn't really like the answer to that prayer, because the easy way out was to let my friend have what he had asked for. I remembered that the guidance I got from my prayer mentioned loving my friend enough to say no. So I said to my friend, "Matt, I just don't feel right about letting you copy my homework. Instead, I'll stay here while you work on it and help you if there is something you don't understand. I bet between us we can get it done before class."
Matt had a right to do the right thing and to be proud of finishing his own homework. How would he have felt if he had received a good grade on borrowed work? Relieved maybe, but not proud, not happy.
We all deserve to be happy we are reflecting God and His qualities, such as honesty and intelligence. Why would I ever want to deprive Matt of those gifts? We were still friends, even though I had to say a difficult no.
Matt learned a lesson about doing his own homework, and my own lesson was being at peace saying no to a friend. In a way, my homework was having the courage to do what I knew was right and honest.
The woman who started this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, "It requires the spirit of our blessed Master to tell a man his faults, and so risk human displeasure for the sake of doing right and benefiting our race" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 571).
Every time we do what is right, we help not only ourselves but others, too. Just as every act of kindness encourages others to be kind, every act of honesty gives others the courage to be honest.
O keep my soul,
and deliver me:
let me not be ashamed;
for I put my trust in thee.
Let integrity and uprightness
preserve me; for I wait on thee.
Psalms 25:20, 21