Stories questioning the honesty of political candidates and Olympic athletes, just to name a few, have recently come up in news headlines. Many are asking, “Who is telling the truth?” Careers, accomplishments, and gold medals can all be tarnished in an instant when a person’s integrity is on the line. For some, it can mean high stakes losses.
These headlines have reminded me of a small example in my own life when, as a young teen, I succumbed to peer pressure and took something that didn’t belong to me. As a student of the Bible, I certainly knew better. Hiding the story brought with it a heavy cloak of guilt and shame. I had never in my life felt so wrong, so separated from good. My actions were dishonest, and I didn’t want to live with that lie.
I was a student in the Christian Science Sunday School, and my teacher was a kind and compassionate man who never judged me for my faults. I called him and tearfully confessed my wrongdoing. He encouraged me to be honest about my actions and accept the consequences.
My teacher’s words resonated with a line from a hymn we often sang in church: “Thou art Truth’s honest child, / Of pure and sinless heart” (Emily F. Seal, “Christian Science Hymnal,” No. 382). God is Truth, and also our Father-Mother, so we are the children – the very outcome – of Truth. This means that thinking or acting dishonestly isn’t in line with who we really are. As Truth’s children, we are created to express God in honesty and goodness. This line of spiritual reasoning helped me see that telling the truth was the right thing to do, and I could accept the consequences.
The next day I returned the goods and apologized for my actions. When I did, I was treated with kindness. There was no punishment, and I learned an invaluable lesson: Truth is a prized possession and honesty is a power. As Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy wrote: “Honesty is spiritual power. Dishonesty is human weakness, which forfeits divine help” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 453).
As the children of God, or divine Truth, we all have honesty built into the fabric of our being. In fact, Christ Jesus’ entire purpose was to be a witness to God, Truth, and to show us our real being. Isn’t that what he did each time he brought physical and mental transformation to the people he healed? He said, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth” (John 18:37).
As we each strive to live our lives honestly, our examples will inspire others to do the same and enable us to be a healing influence in our communities, just as my Sunday school teacher was for me. “Beloved children, the world has need of you, – and more as children than as men and women: it needs your innocence, unselfishness, faithful affection, uncontaminated lives,” wrote Mrs. Eddy. “What grander ambition is there than to maintain in yourselves what Jesus loved, and to know that your example, more than words, makes morals for mankind!” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 110).