Teddy Roosevelt, our 26th President, was quite a colorful character. He was an author, naturalist, historian and explorer. When the Spanish-American war broke out in 1898, he helped form the famous “Rough Riders.” And for a period of time he operated a ranch in the Dakotas. His reputation was one of honor. Honesty. And integrity.
During his time as a rancher, Roosevelt and one of his cowpunchers lassoed a maverick steer, lit a fire, and prepared the branding irons. The part of the range they were on was claimed by Gregor Lang, one of Roosevelt’s neighbors. According to the cattleman’s rule, the steer therefore belonged to Lang. As his cowboy applied the brand, Roosevelt said, “Wait, it should be Lang’s brand.”
“That’s all right, boss,” said the cowboy.
“But you’re putting on my brand,” Roosevelt said.
“That’s right,” said the man.
“Drop that iron,” Roosevelt demanded, “and get back to the ranch and get out. I don’t need you anymore. A man who will steal for me will steal from me.”
Our word of the week is “Honesty.”
We are living a time when it seems honesty is on the decline. A recent Pew Poll revealed that only 19% of Americans trust the government to do what is right. Several polls reveal that a major of Americans do not trust our elected officials to tell the truth. The includes both the President as well as Congress.
Maybe more concerning is the suspicion we have for each other. An AP-GfK poll, as reported by USA Today, “found that Americans are suspicious of each other in everyday encounters. Less than one-third expressed a lot of trust in clerks who swipe their credit cards, drivers on the road, or people they meet when traveling.”
“I’m leery of everybody,” said Bart Murawski, 27, of Albany, New York. “Caution is always a factor.”
Christians are called to a higher standard of living. The Bible commands us to deal truthfully and honestly in our relationships. In word. In deed. And in our work.
“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” (Eph 4:25, ESV)
“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Eph 4:28, ESV)
The wise man in the book of Proverbs had a good bit to say about honesty. Consider these admonitions. They speak for themselves.
“Better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and a fool.” (Prov. 19:1, NLT)
“Honest scales and balances are from the Lord; all the weights in the bag are of his making.” (Prov 16:11,NIV)
“In the end, people appreciate honest criticism far more than flattery. (Prov. 28:23, NLT
“A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies. (Prov 12:17, NIV)
“Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth. (Prov 16:13, NIV)
And, then, don’t you love the imagery and metaphor of this Proverb, “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips” (Prov 24:26, NIV)
James Merkel was right when he wrote, “Honesty is a person’s most valuable asset. His or her good name, good reputation, and good word depend on the individual’s quality of honesty. A business that operates under the principles of profound honesty is elevated within the community. It is respected and treasured. The absence of honesty is a liability to an individual or business .”
The British poet, Alexander Pope, once said, “An honest man’s the noblest work of God.” The fact is that when we desire to please God, serve Him and reflect the character of His Son, Jesus Christ, we will be people of honor and honesty.
Today and this week, think about honesty. Be honest with others. With God. And yourself.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman