Teaching honesty to children can be a real challenge. Inherent in the fallen nature of each one of us is the tendency to lie to save our necks, or to gain something we really want.
Just today I had a wonderful example of honesty. As I waited in line at a supermarket check out, the lady in front of me paid for her groceries, and then handed the operator a dollar coin. “I was under charged a dollar yesterday,” she told the operator. The surprised young check out operator hesitated for a moment, unsure of quite what she should do. Then she took the coin with a thank you, and dropped it in the charity box by the till.
Just a small vignette of a value we don’t see so much these days – the surprise and confusion on the check out operator’s face attested to that. But I couldn’t help thinking what a powerful example it was. The fact that the girl dropped the money into the charity box had a real impact on me. I realized that honesty is always a gift. Every time we choose honesty over cheating or lying, we are offering a gift to someone – the gift of honesty. Conversely, every time we choose to lie, we are robbing someone – perhaps of their trust, or faith or hope.
I don’t think any of us will be lacking examples to share with our children of how we’ve been backed into a corner and have lied our way out. But we also need to try and remember as many examples we can of how we have chosen to be honest even when it hurt us.