—Doctrine and Covenants 51:9
God commands that we be honest in all things. When we lie, cheat, or steal, we open ourselves wide to Satan’s influence and close ourselves to God’s influence. If we want to have the Spirit to guide and comfort us, we must be honest with God, with ourselves, and with other people.
Tell this story to your family and discuss it with them.
“Recently, our grandson, Adam, was traveling with Sister Stone and me on a trip. … About noontime we stopped for lunch. When the waitress … gave me my change, I realized that she had charged me for only two sandwiches instead of three. … I felt this was a good time to talk to Adam about honesty, and so … I explained what had happened. …
“I said we could leave now and keep the extra change and no one would ever know the difference, or we could tell the girl that we still owed her for a sandwich. Our decision wasn’t at all difficult to make when we decided that if we kept money that did not belong to us that we would be breaking the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not steal.’ …
“Adam and I approached the girl at the counter, and I explained to her that she had undercharged us. … She thanked us for telling her of the mistake. We continued on our way with a good feeling, and I am sure our Heavenly Father approved of what we had done.” (O. Leslie Stone, “Be Honest,” Friend, Jan. 1975, p. 7.)
Have a family member read this statement by Elder Mark E. Petersen and invite each member to comment on it:
“We come to the point where faith and works meet each other. Here we ask ourselves: Do our works verify our faith? …
“Honesty, truth, virtue, and kindness are hallmarks of true Christianity. If we lack them, we can hardly say that we follow Christ.
“Whether it be lying, or cheating, or robbery or deception; whether it is in the home, in business, in sports, or in the classroom; dishonesty is completely foreign to the teachings of Jesus.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1982, pp. 19–20; or Ensign, May 1982, p. 15.)
To show what the Lord has said about being honest, look up some of the following scriptures and discuss them: Exodus 20:15, Ephesians 4:25, Doctrine and Covenants 51:9, Doctrine and Covenants 63:17, thirteenth article of faith.
What are several manifestations of dishonesty? (Lying, cheating, stealing.)
Read Proverbs 6:16–19. Discuss how many of the sins listed are associated with dishonesty. Help your family realize that dishonesty is at the root of almost every other sin and that they cannot receive the blessings of the gospel if they are dishonest.
Ask each family member to recall an incident in his life when he made the decision to be honest. After he shares the experience, have him tell how it made him feel. Express your desire to try harder to be honest in everything you do and challenge your family to do the same.
Ask each member of your family to give a definition of a lie. Then compare your definitions to Elder Marvin J. Ashton’s: “A lie is any communication given to another with the intent to deceive” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1982, p. 10; or Ensign, May 1982, p. 9).
Discuss Elder Ashton’s definition. Explain that we can effectively communicate a lie without ever speaking a word. A nod of the head or just keeping silent can deceive.
What are some ways we can deceive? (Recommending a questionable business investment, pretending not to hear mother call, using flattery to get our way, or withholding important facts.)
For the next activity, you will need to have asked one member of your family in advance to answer each question you will ask falsely. Ask that member a simple question—for example, “Where were you just before we began family home evening?” As he answers falsely, wrap a long string or yarn around him once. Then ask him a follow-up question—for example, “Why were you there?” As he answers falsely again, wrap the string around him once more. Continue to ask him follow-up questions, wrapping the string around him each time he gives a false answer. Explain that you asked the person to give wrong answers to show how one lie leads to another and how quickly we can become trapped by lies.
Have each person describe one or more situations where it is easy to tell a lie. As each situation is given, list reasons why it might be tempting to lie. Your list may include such reasons as to avoid embarrassment, to flatter, to gain advantage, to destroy others, and to excuse poor performance.
Discuss how easy it is to tell a lie. Point out that some lies seem bigger than others, but even the smallest lie is a sin.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 42:21 to show how serious a sin lying is. Be sure the members of your family understand that they can repent of any lies they may have already told. Encourage them to watch for situations where they might be tempted to lie, and to be sure they choose to tell the truth.
Relate to your family the following experience of a seminary teacher:
“I had stressed the need for honesty, explaining to my students that many times we don’t even know our integrity is being tested. …
“So my class should have been prepared for the snap quiz I gave them that Thursday afternoon. It was a twenty-question, true-or-false test covering material we had discussed during the week. They finished the test just as the bell rang for dismissal.
“Later that evening I very carefully graded each paper, recording the score in my grade book but leaving no marks on the papers.
“When the class assembled the next morning, I passed the papers back and, as usual, asked that each student grade his own paper. …
“‘Please count five off for each one missed and subtract the total from one hundred,’ I instructed. ‘Your scores please.’
“The response could hardly be heard: ’45.’
“I went on, putting the grades in my grade book, carefully recording each oral report next to the grade I had recorded the night before. The comparison was revealing.
“A stillness settled on the class when I explained what I had done. …
“‘This was a different kind of test. This test was a test for honesty. Were you true or false? I noticed that many of you looked at Mary when she announced her score of 45. Mary, if you don’t mind, would you please stand up? I want each of you to know that in my book Mary just achieved the highest score in the class. You make me feel very proud, Mary.’
“Mary looked up rather timidly at first, then her eyes glistened as she broke into a smile and rose to her feet. I had never seen Mary stand so tall.” (Wayne B. Lynn, “True … or … False,” New Era, Sept. 1978, p. 11.)
Discuss what the seminary students who cheated lost or gained and what Mary lost or gained.
Prepare a slip of paper with one of these phrases written on each one: at home, at school, at church, in the neighborhood, at work, at the store, at play. Let each person draw a slip, read the phrase, and lead a discussion on how cheating occurs in that situation. Help your family members realize that anything they might gain by cheating is always outweighed by what they will lose by cheating. Challenge your family to be honest at all times.
Write the word Stop on a large piece of paper and attach it to a door in the room. Ask your family to pretend that eternal life with Heavenly Father is beyond that door. Ask them to name some of the actions that could keep them from going through that door. Read Doctrine and Covenants 42:20 to discover one of these actions. Discuss why stealing is so serious. Discuss whether stealing once will keep them from going though the door. Be sure they understand that, if a person repents and stops stealing, he will be able to go through.
Write “Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15) on a paper. Place it inside an envelope. Tell your family that you have a message from the Lord to them. Have someone read the message. Point out that, though given long ago, this commandment is intended for each person in your family now.
Consider the following situations together. Point out how easy it may be to think of reasons or excuses that keep us from realizing that we are stealing.
Mr. Watson brings home stamps, pencils, and paper clips from the office. He reasons that he is underpaid anyway, and no one will ever miss them.
A woman does not pay an honest income tax. She feels the tax laws are unfair.
Renee takes change from her mother’s purse to buy treats for her friends. She reasons that her mother wants her to make friends.
Have your family name a few other ways that we might be tempted to steal, even though we do not consider ourselves thieves.
Alma 7:19–20 (God is honest and just in all things.)
Ether 3:12 (God is a God of truth.)
Moses 4:4 (Satan is the father of lies.)
2 Nephi 28:8 (Satan tries to make us think there is no harm in lying a little.)
2 Corinthians 4:2 (Paul renounces dishonesty.)
Doctrine and Covenants 136:20 (Keep all pledges.)
Doctrine and Covenants 136:25 (Return what you borrow.)
Doctrine and Covenants 136:26 (Return what you find.)
Proverbs 12:22 (They that deal truly are God’s delight.)
See also “Honesty” in the Topical Guide.
“True to the Faith,” Hymns, no. 254.
“Dare to Do Right,” Children’s Songbook, p. 158.
Gospel Principles, “Honesty,” chapter 31.
“Honesty Leads to Integrity,” on the Family Home Evening Video Supplement (53276).