Honesty Brings True Success
EARNING income is a necessary part of life. We have a responsibility before God to provide for ourselves and our families.
But what if obtaining money and the things it can buy becomes more than just a means of sustaining life? What if it becomes your purpose in life? Those whose primary objective is to gain wealth find it easier to resort to dishonesty to get it. They may not realize until it is too late that dishonesty robs them of true success. Furthermore, as the Bible says, the love of money causes many pains.
Consider the following four examples of individuals who define success as more than accumulating wealth.
“Several years ago I interviewed a prospective client who wanted to purchase a million-dollar life insurance policy. My commission would have been thousands of dollars. He told me that to gain in his business, I would have to give him half of my commission. What he was asking was not only unethical but also illegal, and I told him so.
“I tried to reason with him by asking if he would really want to give his confidential personal and financial information to someone who was dishonest. I restated my position and told him to contact me if he wanted me as his agent. I never heard from him again.
“If I had agreed to his offer, my personal integrity would have been undermined and my self-respect as a Christian shattered. I would have become the slave of the man who manipulated me to participate in a dishonest scheme.”—Don, U.S.A.
Peace of Mind
Danny was offered a large bribe if he would lie about the capability of a potential supplier’s factory. How did he respond?
“I thanked the manager for his hospitality in providing dinner and then returned the envelope containing the money. He pressed further and said that if his factory passed our evaluation, he would add even more. I refused.
“If I had accepted the money, I would have constantly been in fear of discovery. Later, my boss somehow found out about the incident. I was so happy and relieved that I had done nothing dishonest. Proverbs 15:27 came to my mind: ‘The one making unjust profit is bringing ostracism upon his own house, but the hater of gifts [or bribes] is the one that will keep living.’”—Danny, Hong Kong.
“I am self-employed in the construction industry. There are many opportunities to cheat customers or evade paying taxes. But my family and I have benefited from my determination to remain honest.
“Being honest involves one’s entire life, not just time at work or in business. Knowing that your husband or wife will not compromise God’s standards of honesty brings an added level of trust into the family. Your mate feels secure knowing that integrity is not something you put on and take off when convenient. When you are honest in other things, your mate and other family members will learn to trust in all matters. Think of how satisfying that will be!
“You could own the largest company in the world and not be able to buy relief from family problems. As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I find that following Bible principles keeps life balanced. I have time to enjoy my family without being marched along to the beat of this world controlled by dollars and greed.”—Durwin, U.S.A.
A Good Relationship with God
“My work includes purchasing supplies for my company. Sales agents sometimes propose that instead of giving my company the full discount allowable, they will give me a percentage of whatever amount my company purchases. But this would be a form of stealing from my company.
“I earn only a modest income, and I could use the additional money. But nothing can compare to having a clean conscience and an approved standing before Jehovah God. So in every transaction, I follow the Bible principle found at Hebrews 13:18: ‘We wish to conduct ourselves honestly in all things.’”—Raquel, Philippines.
Principles of Honest Business
Accepted standards of business ethics vary from place to place. However, Bible principles can be used as a foundation for ethical decision-making. Honest business practices have the following six characteristics:
Principle: “Do not be lying to one another.”—Colossians 3:9.
Principle: “Just let your word Yes mean Yes, your No, No.”—Matthew 5:37.
Principle: “Do not reveal the confidential talk of another.”—Proverbs 25:9.
Principle: “You are not to accept a bribe, for the bribe blinds clear-sighted men.”—Exodus 23:8.
Principle: “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them.”—Matthew 7:12.
Principle: “Render to all their dues, to him who calls for the tax, the tax.”—Romans 13:7.
How to Maintain Your Integrity in Business
- Determine Your Priorities. For example, how important to you is gaining wealth compared with maintaining a good standing with God/ a good conscience?
- Decide in Advance. Anticipate situations that will challenge your honesty, and plan how you will respond.
- Make Your Position Known. At the beginning of a new business relationship, tactfully let others know your standards.
- Seek Support From Others. When facing a temptation or an ethical dilemma, ask for advice from someone who shares your values.