I address you as my fellow brothers and sisters in the gospel whom I love. I would indeed share the same message with my children or with my closest friends whom I also love. I will speak boldly hoping to edify and not to offend.
While speaking to His prophet Moses the Lord declared, “For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy”1. The brother of Jared described the Lord in these words, “I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie”2. Honesty, one of the many Christlike attributes, can help us to become, one day, holy as He is.
Following the example of Jesus Christ, do you also strive to be honest and true, both in public and in private? Do you also seek to do good to all men? Do you avoid bearing false witness against your neighbor?
Covenant-keeping and covenant-loving Latter-day Saints strive to emulate the Savior in all things. Truly converted Latter-day Saints strive to always tell the truth because they love the Lord and their fellow man. The adversary, on the other hand, “is a liar, and the father of it”3. A world with opposition in all things compels us to use our agency while being “enticed by the one or the other”4. Please note that we cannot simultaneously choose to follow the Lord and the adversary because, “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils”5. We cannot be honest and tell a lie at the same time. It is either the one or the other.
Foreseeing our day, Nephi predicted that there would be many who falsely think that they can be faithful members of the church and lie a little:
“And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; . . . yea, lie a little, take the advantage of . . . thy neighbor; . . . .
“Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines”6.
Of them President Russell M. Nelson said, “Some people are so easily tempted to lie a little, to cheat a little, to steal a little, or to bear false witness—just a little. You cannot commit a little sin without being subject to the consequences. If you tolerate a little sin today, you tolerate a little more tomorrow, and before long, a cord of integrity is broken”7.
Telling so-called “little lies” is still being dishonest. “A half-truth is a whole lie,” teaches a Jewish proverb. We may think that it is okay to lie a little at work or on the street if we are honest in our families and at church. But every time we are dishonest, we are really guilty of two lies: the lie we tell others and the lie we tell ourselves to justify it. Brigham Young (1801-1877) taught: “In all your business transactions, words, and communications, if you commit [a wrong] act, repent of that immediately, and call upon God to deliver you from evil and give you the light of His spirit. Never do a thing that your conscience, and the light within you, tell you is wrong. Never do a wrong, but do all the good you possibly can”8.
Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, the perfect example of honesty and integrity, the one we should strive to emulate. If our thoughts and desires are focused on Him, we cannot lie, we will not lie. Before telling a lie, we must first forget about Him and overrule a number of warnings from the Holy Ghost that what we are about to say or do is wrong. We must first ignore our covenants while opening our hearts to the whisperings of the adversary. Dishonesty is always followed by the Savior’s penetrating question, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”9.
Whatever we think we might gain by being dishonest, by cheating, by telling half-truths or by being deceitful in any way will pale in comparison with the consequences of that choice unless we sincerely repent. “For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance”10.
When eternal laws and covenants are broken, the law of justice exacts the punishment unless we sincerely repent. Any degree of dishonesty will cause the Spirit of the Lord to be withdrawn unless we sincerely repent. Lying and cheating diminishes and ultimately restricts access to priesthood power unless we sincerely repent. Deceit and trickery make us unworthy to partake of the sacrament or to carry a temple recommend unless we sincerely repent. Lying to a priesthood leader is like lying to the Lord unless we sincerely repent. Agreeing with another person to deceive or mislead others is a form of secret combination which can destroy us spiritually unless we sincerely repent. Any form of dishonesty while serving as a missionary makes us unworthy to represent the Savior and to speak in His name unless we sincerely repent. How marvelous is the gift of repentance and the remission of sins through the Atonement of Jesus Christ! Repenting quickly and sincerely means we are becoming more Christlike!
My dear brothers and sisters, in the language of Paul, the Lord invites us to “examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves”11? How honest are we both in private and in public? Would we feel comfortable to insert our name in the place of George Miller in the verse below? Would it still be a true compliment from the Savior if this verse was referring to us?
“And again, verily I say unto you, my servant [your name] is without guile; he may be trusted because of the integrity of his heart; and for the love which he has to my testimony I, the Lord, love him”12.
We are not perfect, but we can sincerely strive to be honest in all things. If telling lies comes easy to us, if being dishonest doesn’t bother us very much, your completely honest Savior invites you to repent and to stop it. True repentance includes asking for forgiveness not only of the Lord, but of those whom we have offended. It requires a final, unshakable commitment to choose the Savior over anything else in life. It includes intolerance towards one’s own lies, but also the lies and deception of others. It includes standing up for truth and righteousness under all circumstances, especially when doing so is difficult, inconvenient, and or unpopular.
“Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving.”13
May truth telling, truth speaking, truth living and truth loving become your chosen way of life so that you, like Job, may declare:
“All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils;
“My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit.
“God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me”14.
Dear brothers and sisters, your caring Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ love you. They long for you to receive and apply the gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ every day to overcome sin and to turn weaknesses into strengths. Many of us struggle with honesty as a way of life. However, rich blessings are in store for those who make the decision today to become more holy by always striving to speak the truth. May the Lord bless you for the integrity of your heart.