Are You Trustworthy?
“SIR, in our country, if you are honest you will not live. If you want to survive, you’ve got to have a few curves in your way of life.” Thus an African man respectfully explained to a missionary why he believed that the Bible was not always practical.
Clergymen sometimes encourage such a view. According to the South African newspaper Rapport, Catholic priest Hinwood of Pretoria said: “If someone or his family were threatened by famine and no one would help him, I do not believe that it would be wrong if he stole from his fellowman. I believe God would not think so either.”
Whether you agree with these statements or not, they indicate something: There is a growing trend toward dishonesty as an accepted and practiced way of life. Fewer and fewer people can be considered completely trustworthy. Worldwide, dishonesty is on the increase, and it is found in all sections of the community and in all areas of life. But with dishonesty’s being more and more in vogue, you may wonder if honesty is, indeed, the best policy. Are there benefits of being trustworthy?
The Benefits of Being Trustworthy
Examine the accompanying chart, based on the Bible’s standards. How trustworthy do you consider yourself to be? Do you feel that the standards are too high? True, it takes effort to be trustworthy, because imperfect humans are subject to making mistakes. Yet, striving to meet these standards can be most beneficial and can bring real happiness.
Who does not value a trustworthy friend? In the company of such an individual there is a feeling of security, along with confidence that personal matters will not become public knowledge. Trustworthy people can be relied upon because they are true to their word. Faithful in even small things, they take their commitments seriously and honor their marriage vows and business contracts.—Luke 16:10; Hebrews 13:4.
In a world of growing unemployment, a trustworthy person is more likely to hold down a job because of his value to his employer. Negligence and wastefulness cause much loss to companies and organizations. Often employees are entrusted with expensive equipment or machinery. Proving worthy of this trust, operating and maintaining such equipment according to instructions, means savings to the employer. Money is also saved when employees do an honest day’s work, not wasting time for which a salary is being paid. Such trustworthy workers are sought after and highly prized.
A trustworthy parent also stands a better chance of success in rearing children than do others. “If you brag about how you came out ahead by lying to a customer or walk home from the office with your arms full of pencils, pens, stationery and practically everything that is not nailed down, don’t be too surprised if your child follows your example. Don’t forget, you are his model, and he is flattering you by imitating you,” says the book Hold Them Very Close, Then Let Them Go; How to Be an Authentic Parent. Yes, instruction that is backed up by a trustworthy parental example is easier for a child to follow.
Best of all, trustworthiness results in a clean conscience, which goes along with peace of mind and self-respect. Christians who display this fine quality put themselves in line for even greater privileges and blessings in the Christian congregation.—Exodus 18:21; 1 Timothy 3:1, 2, 8-10.
Examples Highlighting Its Value
In July of 1936, John, an Englishman, enjoyed a stay with Pedro and his family in Jaca, Spain. Needing to go to England and then return to Jaca, John entrusted his bicycle, a portable phonograph and some Spanish money to Pedro. A few days later civil war broke out in Spain. Pedro and his family were forced to hide in caves in the Pyrenees. Later, they crossed the border to France and were interned in a refugee camp. Fourteen years later John again met Pedro, who immediately handed over the phonograph and the pesetas and apologized for losing the bicycle in the mountains. What a trustworthy friend!
Sadly, not all friends remain trustworthy. (Psalm 41:9) Judas Iscariot had the wonderful privilege of being chosen as one of Jesus Christ’s 12 apostles, his intimate associates. Apparently, because of certain capabilities, Judas was also entrusted with the group’s common funds. But he failed to maintain appreciation for this trust. “He was a thief and had the money box and used to carry off the monies put in it,” wrote John, one of the faithful apostles. (John 12:6) Going from bad to worse, Judas betrayed his Master for the payment of 30 pieces of silver. His untrustworthiness brought no lasting benefit. Having lost God’s favor and all self-respect, Judas committed suicide and was replaced by Matthias as a foundation member of the Christian congregation.—Matthew 26:14-16; 27:3-5; Mark 14:43-46; John 13:18; Acts 1:26.
How this contrasts with the example of Saul of Tarsus, who became the apostle Paul! At the time of Saul’s conversion the glorified Jesus said: “This man is a chosen vessel to me to bear my name to the nations as well as to kings and the sons of Israel.” (Acts 9:15) As a one-time persecutor of Jesus’ followers, Paul felt unworthy of being entrusted with this special assignment. But with deep appreciation he fulfilled it, proving himself completely trustworthy and unswervingly loyal to his wonderful Master and heavenly Friend.—1 Corinthians 15:9, 10; Ephesians 3:8; 2 Timothy 4:7.
In the matter of trustworthiness, as in other matters, there is need to avoid the extreme of expecting too much of others. For example, parents need to avoid “exasperating [their] children, so that they do not become downhearted,” for this could work against their growing into trustworthy adults. (Colossians 3:21) As author V. Cline explains: “Parents who habitually make mountains out of molehills, nagging their children mercilessly about trivial matters, are inevitably going to have children who not only lie but are good at it. . . . Habitual, long-winded, or cruel nagging rarely stops the children from doing the things they’re being nagged about. It does, however, stop the children from taking responsibility for their own actions.”
Poverty has brought trial and temptation to many, sometimes leading to a course of crime. Recognizing this problem, a Bible writer makes this helpful petition: “Give me neither poverty nor riches. Let me devour the food prescribed for me, that I may not become satisfied and I actually deny you and say: ‘Who is Jehovah?’ and that I may not come to poverty and I actually steal and assail the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:8, 9) This prayer has helped many true Christians to remain trustworthy, for they recognize that to steal, even when faced with hunger, would bring reproach on God. Is he not capable of providing for his faithful servants no matter how difficult circumstances become? (Matthew 6:31-33) Of course, this divine help could not be expected by those who are lazy or too proud to accept menial labor.—2 Thessalonians 3:10.
Trustworthiness Highly Prized
The aforementioned missionary, in replying to the African man, explained that upwards of 28,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in that country of Zaire had gladly committed themselves to a life of trustworthiness. As is the case with 57,000 fellow Witnesses in neighboring Zambia, this has not hindered their ‘survival.’ To the contrary, it has worked to their good. Note, for instance, this report in the Times of Zambia:
“The Zambia Trade Fair management engages members of the Watchtower sect to man the gates—because of their honesty. . . . Other organizations had apparently been tried in the past but most of them had displayed a singular disregard for honesty, which had forced the management to settle for the sect members.”
And farther south, in Mdantsane, one of South Africa’s black townships, the mayor, Mr. Mphepha, said: “Over a period of six years, I have never heard of a single case of Witnesses failing to pay the rent, fighting with their wives, or applying for a divorce. It is for this reason that I have a high regard for them.” Yes, trustworthy people are prized.
Trustworthiness is a quality that people admire. In the days of the Persian Empire, when Governor Nehemiah had to leave Jerusalem, Hananiah was one who was left in command. Why? The record says: “He was such a trustworthy man.”—Nehemiah 7:2.
More importantly, trustworthiness is required by the God of truth, Jehovah. Of him the psalmist was moved to say: “Your own reminders have proved very trustworthy.” (Psalm 93:5) You can experience this too. These ‘trustworthy reminders’ are found in God’s Word, the Bible. By seeking to follow them, you can enjoy many blessings both now and forevermore.—John 17:3.
[Box on page 26]
□ Are true to their word.—Matthew 5:37
□ Keep confidential matters to themselves.—Proverbs 25:9
□ Speak the truth.—Ephesians 4:25
□ Do not steal or take the property of others, nor do they take without permission.—Ephesians 4:28
□ Do an honest day’s work.—Colossians 3:22, 23
□ Are loyal to their mates.—Hebrews 13:4
□ Acknowledge their mistakes.—Proverbs 28:13
□ Abide by the laws of the land.—Titus 3:1
□ Pay back to God what belongs to him.—Matthew 22:21
[Picture on page 27]
Trustworthy workers are highly valued and most often retained in times of economic hardship
[Picture on page 28]
One can confide in a trustworthy friend without fear that personal matters will become public knowledge