Lesson 42: Honesty

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 1, (2002), 150–53


Objective

Each young man will strive to be honest and upright in his relationships with the Lord, with others, and with himself.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Materials needed: scriptures for each young man.

  2. 2.

    Study 2 Kings, chapter 5, and be prepared to tell the story of the leper Naaman and the dishonest servant.

  3. 3.

    Review the counsel about honesty on page 31 of For the Strength of Youth.

Suggested Lesson Development

Introduction

Story

If the young men are familiar with the Hans Christian Andersen tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” invite them to help you relate it.

Explain that the story concerns two swindlers who convinced the emperor that they had the power to weave the finest of cloth. They told him this cloth was not only beautiful, it was magic as well. They claimed it was invisible to anyone who was stupid or unfit for his office. Then they pretended to weave the cloth and make a suit of clothes that the emperor was to wear in a great procession. The emperor and all his subjects could see nothing, for there was nothing to be seen, yet each was afraid to tell the truth. As the emperor passed by in the procession, everyone admired the fit, the color, and the pattern of the emperor’s new clothes, which, of course, did not exist. At last, a little child exclaimed, “Why, he has nothing on at all.”

  • What word describes the child’s actions? (Honesty.)

  • What does honesty mean?

Emphasize that our honesty is tested daily. Have the young men think about whether they are truly honest in all their dealings.

We Believe in Being Honest

Quotation

  • Why is it especially important for us as Latter-day Saints to be honest?

Allow the young men to respond. Then have a young man read the following statement from President Heber J. Grant:

“The fundamental thing for a Latter-day Saint is to be honest. The fundamental thing for a Latter-day Saint is to value his word as faithfully as his bond; to make up his mind that under no circumstances, no matter how hard it may be, by and with the help of the Lord, he will dedicate his life and his best energies to making good his promise” (Gospel Standards [Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1943], p. 30).

Explain that there are various aspects of honesty.

We Should Be Honest with the Lord

Chalkboard and discussion

On the chalkboard write, Honesty with—. Under those words, write 1. The Lord.

Have the young men suggest some ways we might be honest with God. To help in the discussion, use the following questions:

  • How can we be honest in paying tithing or other offerings?

  • How can we be honest when partaking of the sacrament?

  • How can we be honest in fulfilling Church assignments?

  • How can we be honest in keeping promises made with the Lord?

We Should Be Honest with Others

Story

Add to the chalkboard: 2. Others. and read the following story told by Elder Keith W. Wilcox:

“During my second college year on December 7, 1941, the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor. … I decided to join the Navy with the object of becoming a naval officer. An entire day was spent in the Naval Recruiting Office filling out forms for consideration. …

“One of the last questions on the naval physical fitness questionnaire … asked whether I had ever had ‘hay fever.’ I remember staring at this question for a long time. … It was evident that my answer could affect my being accepted or rejected as a candidate for officer consideration.

“The simple truth was that I had experienced hay fever all of my life and sneezed very often. It would be so easy to mark no to this question since it would probably never come up again. However, marking no would be dishonest. It was a little thing, and yet a principle was at stake. With reluctance, I marked the space for yes and handed the paper back.

“The medical officer, upon seeing my answer, looked up and exclaimed, ‘Don’t you know that naval officers can’t have hay fever? You will have to take a special allergy test.’

“The test showed that I suffered a considerable number of allergies. [The officer] then took my application forms, calmly tore them up, and threw them into a wastebasket. I … asked, ‘What shall I do now?’ The officer calmly replied that the ‘draft’ would take care of me and not to worry.

“Sick at heart, I went back to school, transferring to the University of Utah. … My graduation with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering occurred in December of 1943, two years following Pearl Harbor.

“The day following my graduation, I again presented myself to the naval procurement office … and indicated that I had just graduated [in] mechanical engineering … and showed them my degree. When they learned I was interested in becoming a naval officer, I experienced ‘red carpet’ treatment. … A direct commission as an ensign was offered that day. …

“I told the officer … , ‘Sir, I suffer severe hay fever. What do you think of that?’ The officer laughed. He said that at one time it was a consideration, but not anymore.

“The ship to which I was later assigned … was the USS LSM 558. It was our understanding that this ship was destined for the invasion of Japan. … Instead, we were given orders to patrol on the Atlantic Coast from Boston to Florida. …

“In August of 1985, [Sister Wilcox and I] toured … the great war memorial in Manila dedicated to those from our country who had given their lives during World War II. … Our experiences at the Manila war memorial reminded us of many personal friends who joined the services in the first years of that war and who did not return. Had I become a part of those early engagements, the possibility of losing my life would have been very great. Had I been willing to tell an untruth concerning my hay fever, I would have been immediately sent into the first bitter battles where so many had lost their lives.

“Looking back to that eventful day, I realized that I survived one of the greatest tests of my life in telling the truth about my hay fever. … There had been a great temptation to tell a ‘little lie,’ but the counsel my father had given me … had served me well. I share it with you humbly: always be honest” (“The Best Policy,” New Era, Nov. 1986, pp. 6–7).

Discussion

  • Why did Elder Wilcox refuse to lie? (“A principle was at stake.”)

  • How did he feel after he was rejected from the navy?

  • How was he blessed for being honest?

  • Why is it sometimes difficult for us to be honest?

  • Do we always receive immediate blessings for being honest?

Explain that like Elder Wilcox, we may find that honesty does not always bring immediate blessings. Sometimes we may even suffer for our honesty. We must therefore trust in the Lord, and he will bless us for being honest.

Scripture story

Relate in your own words the story of Naaman and the dishonest servant (see 2 Kings 5). Emphasize that Elisha gave no second chances to his dishonest servant. No allowances, explanations, or rationalizations were accepted. The servant had been dishonest, and he suffered for his dishonesty. Emphasize that all dishonesty, no matter how small or insignificant, affects others.

We Should Be Honest with Ourselves

Case studies

Add to the chalkboard, 3. Yourself.

  • In what ways can we be dishonest with ourselves? (We rationalize our actions, their causes, and their consequences.)

Discuss the following examples to see how each person was dishonest with himself. You may wish to adapt these examples to situations in your own area.

  1. 1.

    Paul heard someone knocking at the door and knew it must be that silly Brian from down the street. He didn’t want to talk to him. As his mother started to answer the door, Paul told her to say he wasn’t home.

  2. 2.

    Jason looked up and down the store aisle. No one was watching. Quickly he took a package of chewing gum and slipped it into his pocket. “It’s such a big store; they’ll never miss it,” he thought.

  • Why is it important to be honest with ourselves? (To preserve our integrity and our self-worth. It is important that we like ourselves.)

  • Why are people dishonest?

  • Why is it important for us to be honest at all times?

Story

Explain that many times we may unknowingly affect others with our honesty. Read the following story told by President Spencer W. Kimball:

“On the train from New York to Baltimore we sat in the dining car opposite a businessman and commented, ‘It seldom rains like this in Salt Lake City.’

“The conversation soon led naturally into the golden question: ‘How much do you know about the Church?’

“‘I know little about the Church,’ he said, ‘but I know one of its people.’ He was developing subdivisions in New York. ‘There is a sub-contractor working for me,’ he continued. ‘He is so honest and full of integrity that I never ask him to bid on a job. He is the soul of honor. If the Mormon people are like this man, I’d like to know about a church that produces such honorable men.’ We left him literature and sent the missionaries to teach him” (Faith Precedes the Miracle [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972], pp. 240–41).

  • How can our example of honesty affect others?

Explain that the man in the story had the desire to investigate the Church because he noticed how honest one of his workers was. Many times our honest actions influence others. Often honesty is easy to practice, but sometimes we may think dishonesty would be easier. However, honesty always brings blessings.

Honesty Brings Peace of Conscience

Story

Share the following story of a young boy who learned the hard way that honesty brings peace of conscience.

“An old Swedish couple, Brother and Sister Palm, worked in the shoe shop of the Co-op Store in our town. Brother Palm’s hand was intriguing to watch as he mended the shoes. Jimmie and I would go to the shop just to watch him work his stiff fingers and see the hole that ran through the center of his palm. …

“One day when Jimmie and I were there we saw a dime in one of his tack cups, and we both began to think of what that dime could buy.

“‘Brother Palm would never miss a dime,’ I whispered to Jimmie.

“‘I’ll get Brother Palm to show me something in the rear of his shop while you take the money and run away,’ Jimmie suggested.

“The plan worked perfectly, and we each bought a bottle of soda water at Joe Coslett’s Novelty Store.

“It took a long, long time for me to get over the guilty feeling I had about that dime. Every time I saw Brother Palm, I remembered I had stolen from him. Each winter the ward sent the boys out on Saturdays to chop wood for the widows, the aged, and the disabled. I worked harder at the Palm home than anywhere else to try and work that dime off my conscience.

“After I grew up I saw very little of Brother Palm. But, when I did, he would always put his crippled hand in mine, and then I’d remember the dime I took from his tack cup. I wanted to tell him about it and give him a dollar to quiet my conscience, but I lacked the courage to confess my dishonesty.

“Later, I was hired as a clerk in the old Co-op store where Brother Palm did all his business. When he traded with me, I always put ten cents’ worth more of goods in his sack than I charged him for. Then when he left, I’d put one of my own dimes in the cashbox and mark it ‘paid’ on the store’s ledger.

“Soon the old man learned that his money bought more from me, and he would not trade with any other clerk. When someone else offered to serve him, he would say, ‘Thank you. I will wait for Brother Palmer.’

“After a while I began to realize that I wasn’t clearing my conscience of that long-ago theft. The only way for me to stop feeling guilty about that stolen dime was to confess what I had done and ask his forgiveness.

“The next time Brother Palm came to trade, I gave him his order as usual and asked him to come into the office for a little talk. …

“Then I told him about the dime I had stolen long ago from his shop and how I was reminded of it each time I saw the hole in his hand. I explained that I had been trying all this time to square my debt by putting ten cents’ worth more of goods in his sacks than he paid for. ‘I paid the extra amount and marked it paid in the ledger,’ I continued.

“Pointing to the list of figures I said, ‘You see, Brother Palm, I’ve paid my debt many times over, but I’ve found that I can’t clear my conscience that way, so I am telling you the whole story and asking for your forgiveness.’

“The old man smiled and said, ‘Oh, Brother Palmer, I do forgive you. I’m only sorry you didn’t tell me sooner.’

“Then he stood up and put out his hand for me to shake. My finger slid into the hole in his palm and the guilty feeling left me” (William R. Palmer, as told to Kathryn H. Ipson, “An Expensive Lesson,” Friend, Aug. 1975, pp. 34–35).

Conclusion

Quotation

Share the following thought from President Spencer W. Kimball:

“No virtues in the perfection we strive for are more important than integrity and honesty. Let us then be complete, unbroken, pure, and sincere, to develop in ourselves that quality of soul we prize so highly in others” (Faith Precedes the Miracle [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972], p. 248).

Challenge

Review the counsel about honesty on page 31 of For the Strength of Youth. Point out that honesty with others, God, and ourselves is very important to a successful and happy life. Challenge the young men to be honest in all of their relationships and activities.