Shading The Truth
July 10, 2002 • By Ed Wrather
You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another. - Leviticus 19:11.
It has only been in the past few decades that young students have not been taught the value of truth telling through the story of George Washington’s cutting down the cherry tree. According to the story when little George was confronted by his father he said something similar to the following, “Father, I cannot tell a lie. I cut down the cherry tree.” The minister Mason Weems published this story along with others about Washington shortly after Washington’s death. Although the citizenry may have recognized the cherry tree incident as a likely myth it was believed that the first President stood for honesty. After all, he said that he had no desire to hold on to his power and had then kept his word by leaving office. Truth, honesty, and the American Way once had meaning in our society.
Yesterday in a speech given on Wall Street President Bush called for an end to “cooking the books”, and “shading the truth”, in corporate America. The President conceded that more financial scandals are possible. He called for a “new ethic of corporate responsibility.” What is really needed is a return to the old ethic of Biblical principles that the country was originally built upon. What is needed are some political, business, and religious leaders who once again stand for truth, honesty, and morality. Those in the political, business, and religious communities have had and are having a real image problem over the last several years. It has taken some time for the truth to be revealed but now we see the whole ugly truth is coming out.
The truth usually is revealed and it is nearly always painful when it has been concealed through lying, and deceitfulness. A Biblical example is that of Ananias and his wife Sapphira (Acts 5) who sold some property but lied when they said they were giving the whole amount to the church. The shocking thing about Ananias and Sapphira was that the truth was known immediately and they both dropped dead and that was the end of their lies. However, in the world we live in the truth usually is not revealed so quickly but even years after the lies, deceit, and immoralities began the truth is still shocking.
We are shocked, outraged, and many have been directly harmed by the moral deceitfulness of our political, business, and religious leaders. We would like to see justice done and an end to all of this evil. But for the most part we are powerless to bring it about by ourselves. But we are not powerless to bring it about in our own lives. If each of us strives to live in an upright and moral way it could very well have an impact on the character of the world. Isn’t that what being the “salt of the earth” is all about? Let us preserve and influence those we can as we live our lives in the way that we would hope that our leaders would live theirs. The apostle Paul said it and lived it well, “I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward (or “to keep my conscience clear before”) God and men (Acts 24:16).”