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Honest Day’s Work

February 17th, 2009

“The wicked . . earns deceptive wages.” Proverbs 11:18 NIV

“Practice honesty at all times; preserve honesty at all costs.”

My thoughts today are about an “honest day’s work.”

While still a young man, I was taught the importance of “an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wage.” If you agree to work for someone at a given wage, be honest, earn your wages, and provide the highest quality you are capable to give. Your opinion of your wage is no justification to give less than you agreed. It is always your option to work elsewhere, but never your option to give less than your best, nor honest to blame another for what you withhold. Solomon’s advice to his son was, “It is better to have a little, honestly earned, than to have a large income, dishonestly gained.” Proverbs 16:9 TEV. Don’t sell your soul for a few coins that are worth far less than they might first appear.

Honesty really is the best policy. First, that’s true because God demands honesty, and for that reason honesty works best. In the play, Hamlet, Polonius gives Laertes, his son, this advice, “To thine own self be true, and then it must follow as night the day. Thou canst not then be false to any man.” William Shakespeare. Honesty with all begins with honesty before God and within your own heart. Beware of the temptation of little compromises to do otherwise along the way. Practice honesty at all times; preserve honesty at all costs. Character is better held than recovered.

No one long succeeds without honesty. The Bible requires, “Provide things honest in the sight of all men.” Romans 12:19. That holds true when you speak of business, and especially for relationships. Marriage vows seem increasingly negotiable; business agreements are unilaterally adjusted for personal advantage and profit. Whatever the justification of the moment seems, dishonesty sows a corruption into any relationship, personal or professional.

I learned from my father to value and protect one’s word. Ray Randolph believed that a man was “only as good as his word,” and he held himself to that standard, whatever another chose to do. The world has changed considerably in one generation, hasn’t it? It is sad that we need extensive contracts and lawyers to guarantee the simplest of agreements, and then arbitrators and courtrooms to decide what is binding and what are pre-planned and allowable loopholes to favor one party over the other.

“Happy is the person . . who runs his business honestly.” Psalm 112:5 TEV. That should be true of all; it must be true of the Christ-follower. What others may excuse as good enough, you cannot allow as good enough for you. The Bible teaches the only acceptable attitude of anyone who claims the name of Christ. “We trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.” Hebrews 13:18 KJV. It is sad when that is anything but true, especially of those who profess to be Christians but speak and act in something much less than worthy of their claim.

I have found that rarely is it a person’s not knowing what is right to do; it is their creating excuses that parade as reasons to justify doing something less than they know is right. “An honorable person acts honestly and stands firm for what is right.” Isaiah 32:8 TEV.  You will not be counted honorable to others if you are not first honest with others. Doing the wrong thing will never get you the right result.

My prayer for you today is to live honestly and upright before God and man.

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