What Price a Clean Conscience?
“GOVERNMENT Ordered to Receive R$20,000.” This strange headline recently appeared in the Brazilian newspaper Correio do Povo. The article related the story of Luiz Alvo de Araújo, a local mailman, who had sold a piece of land to the state government. After signing over his property, Luiz was surprised to discover that he had been paid R$20,000 (approximately $8,000, U.S.) more than the agreed price!
Returning the excess payment proved easier said than done. After several fruitless visits to government departments, Luiz was advised to hire a lawyer and settle the problem in court. “Apparently someone made a mistake, and because of red tape, no one knew how to sort things out,” commented the judge who sentenced the government to receive the money and pay legal costs. “It is the first case of its kind that I have ever seen.”
Luiz, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, explains: “My Bible-trained conscience would not let me keep what was not rightfully mine. I had to try to return the money.”
Many would find such an attitude strange or even incomprehensible. But God’s Word shows that true Christians place a high value on maintaining a clean conscience in their dealings with secular authorities. (Romans 13:5) Jehovah’s Witnesses are determined to maintain an ‘honest conscience and conduct themselves honestly in all things.’—Hebrews 13:18.