Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, wrote a New York Times Bestseller entitled The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty. I listened to Dan speak at a conference for senior leaders at West Point, NY and was fascinated by what he shared. He made a powerful case for how common cheating and lying is in our society and throughout the world.
Two things tweaked my attention in Dr. Ariely’s remarks. “As it turns out, people are more apt to be dishonest in the presence of nonmonetary objects—such as pencils and tokens—than actual money.”When subjects were given tokens for tasks they performed correctly (which they could later convert into money) they were more likely to inflate their success. This is called the fudge factor. In essence, people want to feel good about themselves morally but given the chance to stretch the truth many will do so if the conditions are right.
When people were reminded of the Ten Commandments, an Honor Code, or ethical standards before they were placed in a temptation-laced environment they consistently were more honest. “On the positive side, it seems that when we are simply reminded of ethical standards, we behave more honorably.” Ironically, atheists when asked to swear on a Bible significantly improved their truth telling!
Hebrews 3:13—But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.
If I had to pick one area that is increasingly deficient among followers of Jesus I would pick exhortation. It seems the more our culture embraces tolerance and rationalizes (champions) evil the more reluctant we become to urge each other to press on in living righteously. The truth about dishonesty is that it permeates all of us to some degree. Deceit wears us down and robs us of joy. Yet, the more cheating becomes normative the more expressive we should be in exalting honorable living! This means we have to be aware: of how we are doing; of what obstacles and temptations surround us; and, of when to give a timely, apt word. We need to invite each other to declare absolutes.
I think, act, feel and live better when fellow believers encourage me to do what is right. Encouragement is like a fresh cup of coffee (or in my case green tea) to a tired soul. Do you ever feel weary of righteously negotiating life? We all do! So let me cheer you on to do what is true in God’s sight. Don’t give in—choose the harder right! “The one who lives with integrity will be helped, but one who distorts right and wrong will suddenly fall” (Proverbs 28:18).
It is not because the truth is too difficult to see that we make mistakes... we make mistakes because the easiest and most comfortable course for us is to seek insight where it accords with our emotions--especially selfish ones.—Alexander Solzhenitsyn
©2015 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)
Dan Ariely in The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, (New York: Harper Perennial), p. 34.
Ibid, p. 43