Honesty


David B. Haight
(Adapted from an October 1987 general conference address. See Ensign, November 1987, pages 13–15.)
They that deal truly are his delight (Prov. 12:22).

James Peter Fugal was an honest man! He herded sheep much of his life in the rolling hills of Idaho—both his own sheep and sheep for others.

On one bitterly cold winter night, he was herding sheep for another man when a blizzard set in. The sheep bunched together, as sheep do, in the corner of a fenced area, and many died. Many other sheep on surrounding ranches also died that same night because of the weather.

Though the death of the sheep was no fault of his, James Fugal felt responsible. He spent the next several years working and saving to repay the owner for his lost sheep. This was the type of deep moral honor and accountability that was fostered by scripture-reading, God-fearing settlers on the early frontier.

Recently, Sister Haight and I attended a ward sacrament meeting some distance from our home. After the sacrament, we found, to our delight, that the Primary would present the program, the theme being “We Believe in Being Honest.”

I marveled at the eagerness and interest of these young children as they spoke about the fundamental principles they were learning in Primary of telling the truth, respecting the property of others, being trustworthy, and standing for the right.

I thought about James Fugal, the humble sheepherder, and about how wonderful it was that these children were being taught the same values that made him a man of such noble character.

On March 1, 1842, Joseph Smith, at the request of Mr. John Wentworth, editor of a Chicago newspaper, composed thirteen brief statements known as the Articles of Faith, which summarize some of the basic doctrines of the Church. As the concluding statement, the Prophet wrote this inspired code of conduct:

“We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”

[illustration] Painting by Nathan Pinnock