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The development of honesty

From the March 14, 1983 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

Is it important to be honest? Many people certainly would not hesitate to agree that it is—perhaps citing the destructive effect of dishonesty on the moral fiber of society and on one's own self-respect.

Yet honesty is more than important. It is absolutely indispensable. For if we are to come to understand the nature of reality and to demonstrate the true status of man as God's image, honesty must pervade every aspect of our experience; it must be an essential ingredient in all the details of our human affairs. When forged by spiritual sense, honesty constitutes a power that enables us to break free of sin and falsehood so that we can more clearly recognize the immediate saving presence and governing law of divine Truth in our lives.

The development of a deep-toned fidelity to Truth makes for honorable men and women who are fit to know the kingdom of God. There is in fact no salvation without honesty. The First Epistle to Timothy speaks of the need to pray for mankind, including our political leaders, "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." And the author continues his charge by stating, "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." See I Tim. 2:1-4.

The demand in the King James Version for "honesty" covers all kinds of honorable, dignified behavior. When we look at the world around us, this moral dignity sometimes seems in rather short supply. In politics, business, and private conduct, people have almost come to expect a certain amount of fraud or deceit or expedient lapses of forthrightness. Integrity in important areas of life often requires substantial courage. Consistent honesty on a day-to-day basis requires a sincere love of good, and unswerving loyalty to divine Principle.

Spiritually based integrity—exercised steadfastly in one's activities and undiluted by fear or self-seeking—can serve as a dynamic confirmation of man's true completeness, innate purity, and righteousness. When anchored in an understanding of man's divine purpose to express and glorify only God, our expressions of honesty provide a healing animus for good will and mutual respect in families, businesses, communities, churches.

On the other hand, dishonesty opposes the law of God and ultimately incurs penalties. At times the suffering can be severe. To develop a solid foundation for integrity in one's life, the individual needs to uncover any mortal tendencies (false traits of the human mind) that would draw him away from Truth. Some of the temptations might include a suggestion that matter is what satisfies; or that worldly prestige and position are all-important; or that an accumulation of material possessions is necessary to happiness; or that good can be obtained surreptitiously.

But one can courageously deal with these tendencies and rid himself of their supposed influence in his thinking by recognizing that they do not come from God and therefore have no substance or place in man's consciousness. Through prayer one can begin to grasp an appreciation of who man truly is as the spiritual reflection of God, divine Principle. As the manifestation of infinite Truth, our individual natures bear witness only to what is true and good and pure.

In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health by Mrs. Eddy, there is much to recommend honesty as a necessary element in working out one's salvation. And Christian Science also teaches that every wrong thought, word, or action brings its own penalty. Still, the textbook maintains (p. 327): "Fear of punishment never made man truly honest. Moral courage is requisite to meet the wrong and to proclaim the right."

Science and Health continues in the same paragraph with a realistic appraisal of what is needed to lead the individual to honesty when his moral and spiritual sense may be submerged in materiality. "Through human consciousness," the textbook states, "convince the mortal of his mistake in seeking material means for gaining happiness. Reason is the most active human faculty. Let that inform the sentiments and awaken the man's dormant sense of moral obligation, and by degrees he will learn the nothingness of the pleasures of human sense and the grandeur and bliss of a spiritual sense, which silences the material or corporeal. Then he not only will be saved, but is saved."

Pure honesty is also a necessary quality to be attained and demonstrated by anyone who desires to be a scientific Christian healer. Healing through prayer—through the spiritual understanding of man's true being as the expression, or idea, of divine Mind—allows for nothing less than the highest standard of integrity. We need always to be honest with ourselves in order to see any specific error or sin that must be cast out to make way for our own healing. And we need always to be honest with others in order to behold the sufferer's true identity as purely spiritual and whole, untarnished by mortal falsehoods and material liabilities.

Furthermore, the motive for our desire to heal must rest squarely on the side of God—to worship and glorify Him, to demonstrate His omnipotence, to prove in humility man's true purpose as divine Soul's perfect reflection. And one desires to heal others because he loves God and mankind with a heart overflowing. One does not pursue selfish gain in the healing ministry. Science and Health asserts: "A wrong motive involves defeat. In the Science of Mind-healing, it is imperative to be honest, for victory rests on the side of immutable right." Science and Health, p. 446.

We can look to the life and teaching of our Master, Christ Jesus, for the supreme model of honesty. The temptations of the devil, the arguments and threats of scribes and Pharisees, the mockery and hatred of those who wanted to destroy him—all of these were met from the standpoint of spiritual integrity. Jesus consistently proved divine Truth to be the liberator. His example allows for no taint of fraud, deceit, or quackery in the lifework of his followers. The Master's saving ministry shines through the centuries as a beacon of guidance and hope to those who would muster the strength, patience, and courage to stand radically and exclusively for divine Principle.

In our individual careers, the dawning of spiritual sense is fundamental to the development of a truly honest nature. And there can be no question that honesty itself is central to one's progress and salvation. Honesty goes hand in hand with spiritual vitality.

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