The Best Policy

“Therefore, putting away lying, ‘let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another” (Ephesians 4:25).
The old proverb “Honesty is the best policy” seems to be without much credence in today’s “me first,” “end justifies the means” morality. Dishonesty, cheating, and corruption are taken for granted in both public and private spheres. Contracts are routinely broken, words given are often un-kept, and theft is excused as “perks of the job.”
I have worked regularly for the past several years in Bangladesh, which has earned the label “world’s most corrupt society” for many of those years. I have continually been impressed with the results of such corruption in the daily lives of citizens and visitors. Consider just a few examples:
Bus and truck accidents are frequent and devastating, due in part to the incompetence of many drivers who acquire their license through bribery without proper training.
A nine-story garment manufacturing plant collapsed, killing hundreds of workers in spring 2005. The building was not built under permit, and the contractor used substandard and illegal materials and techniques.
Land titles are obscure and often disputed because of illegal transfers and sales through bribery of tax and registration officials. Land may be sold to multiple buyers at the same time, with resulting suits and disputes lasting for years.
Elections are disputed through gang violence and strong-arm tactics, with polls manipulated and results falsified.
Visitors to Bangladesh are warned not to take public taxis from the airport because of theft rings operating from information given by airport employees. Prosperous looking foreign passengers are often mugged and robbed from the taxis. The commission overseeing taxi service to the airport has been implicated.
On a short range, individual basis, we can sometimes see profit from dishonesty. But the results of widespread corruption within a society are devastating. The proverb remains true and relevant: honesty is definitely the best policy.
Jesus commanded, “Let your yes be yes and your no, no” (Matthew 5:37). He is telling us not to use false oaths or other legal niceties to defraud our brother. Rather we should do what we say we will do and live by a high standard of ethics and morals. This not only obeys the commands of our Savior, but also emulates the nature of our God, who “cannot lie.”

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