For Howard W. Hunter, it was important to be honest in small matters as well as large ones.
'He taught his sons about integrity by his example. “What I know about honesty and integrity has come in large measure by what people have told me about my father,” Richard Hunter said. One time Richard went with his father to a business meeting where a complex project was being discussed. While outside for a break, Richard and one of the men were talking about the meeting. Richard said there would probably be a long wait to begin the project because it would require an immense amount of legal paperwork. The man corrected Richard, telling him the project could proceed before the paperwork was finalized because the people knew that Howard W. Hunter would do whatever he said he would do.
Scripture is replete with admonitions to be honest, and commandments are myriad to the effect that we should be honest. We think of them in bold type: THOU SHALT NOT—thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not bear false witness; thou shalt not covet [see Exodus 20:15–17]. …
The Lord hates a proud look, a lying tongue, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, [and] he that soweth discord [see Proverbs 6:16–19]. As Latter-day Saints, can we afford to do anything the Lord hates? How often has he spoken against dishonesty!
As we strive for achievement and success, so much of our time is consumed in thought and study of the complex that we seldom take time for the simple—the simple things, the little things that are in reality the basis upon which we build and without which a strong foundation cannot exist. A structure may tower to the sky, and we may look at it with awe because of its stature and great height; yet it cannot stand unless its foundation is anchored in rock or in steel and concrete.
Character must have such a foundation. I draw your attention to the principle of honesty. Why is it so many believe in the high and lofty principles of honesty, yet so few are willing to be strictly honest?
Religion can be part of our daily work, our business, our buying and selling, building, transportation, manufacturing, our trade or profession, or of anything we do. We can serve God by honesty and fair dealing in our business transactions in the same way we do in Sunday worship. The true principles of Christianity cannot be separate and apart from business and our everyday affairs.
What a great change would come over the world if we could all rely upon others as far as honesty is concerned. Men would have perfect confidence in each other in personal and business dealings. There would not be … distrust between labor and management. There would be integrity in public office and in government affairs, and nations would exist in peace rather than the turmoil we presently know in the world. …
One of the greatest accomplishments of our lives is to promote an honest, earnest integrity within ourselves. This means that we become spiritually sound, intellectually sincere, morally honest, and always personally responsible to God. Integrity is that golden key which will unlock the door to almost any success.
We often speak of that scriptural reference, “Men are, that they might have joy” [2 Nephi 2:25]. There is a joy that comes to one from being honest. Let me tell you how. By this means you can have the companionship of the Master and you can have the Spirit of the Holy Ghost. Violations of the code of honesty will deprive you of these two great blessings. Could you believe that one who would lie or cheat … could have the companionship of the Master or have the Spirit of the Holy Ghost?
… We should always remember that we are never alone. There is no act that is not observed; there is no word spoken that is not heard; there is no thought conceived in the mind of man that is not known to God. There is no darkness that can conceal the things we do. We must think before we act.
Blessed are they who are honest. …
Blessed are they who are obedient to the Lord.
They are they who are free—who are happy—who can walk with their heads high. They have their self-respect. They have the respect of those who know them best.
And above all, they have the respect and blessing of our Father in Heaven. Jesus invites us to follow him. His paths are straight and clean and upright and honest. Let us follow him into the abundant life of happiness. It is the only way.