“Therefore, laying aside all falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.” (Ephesians 4:25, NASB95)

HonestyDo you consider yourself an honest person? A recent article in the May 2015 issue of Reader’s Digest by Jena Pincott argues that we are more prone to “bend the rules” from time to time than we might think.” According to Mrs. Pincott even those who consider themselves “honest citizens” are guilty of daily acts of “cheating, lying, or otherwise innocuous rule breaking.” The guilty “stand in the express line with too many groceries, play hooky from work, board planes before our seat is called, or lie to give our kids an advantage.” She argues that our “transgressions” are often the result of situations in which we find ourselves.

Mrs. Pincott lists four defenses we often use to justify our transgressions. One is the “creativity defense” in which the more imaginative among us reframe our dishonest behavior to make it more palatable. Aaron defended his making of the golden calf by claiming the people had said to him, “Make a god for us who will go before us.” (Exodus 32:23). When they brought him their gold he claimed, “I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.” (Exodus 32:24). The second defense is known as the “status defense” which suggests that “powerful people break rules” thus the more powerful a person feels the more likely that person is “to steal money, cheat on a test, and commit traffic violations in driving situations.” King Saul apparently thought he could disobey God’s command to “go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has” (1 Samuel 15:3), destroying instead only that which was “despised and worthless”, but sparing “all that was good” (1 Samuel 15:9). Next is “the bonding defense” which goes along with the crowd. If our friends download pirated music we are likely to do the same. Perhaps this is why Paul wrote, “Be not deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Finally, there is the “level-playing-field defense” in which, when we feel we have been mistreated we work to “get even or at least level the field.” If the opposing team is winning because they are better, do we cheat in order to level the playing field? If so, we have given Satan the advantage.

Paul wrote, “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2). How are you doing?

— Jeff Keele