The Cost of Honor

by Don Beehler on Monday, January 05, 2004

This article is courtesy of HomeLife Magazine

During a college commencement address, Fox TV news host Bill O'Reilly challenged graduates to "live honorably." He noted, "You have to do what you say you are going to do . . . If you live by that code, you will accomplish what you want to accomplish."

Christians should strive to live honorably each day in the power of the Holy Spirit. We should let our "light shine before men," so they will see our good deeds and praise our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

Knowing and living by God's values is not only difficult, it's mind-boggling. The secular workplace poses great challenges to living out our faith. When ethics increasingly are becoming situational and right or wrong is a matter of personal choice, there is enormous pressure to do what is expedient. The world's standards have become so low that simply doing the right thing causes a person to stand out, and, according to a Japanese proverb, the nail that sticks out gets hammered down.

I believe the greatest challenges to our integrity come from those pesky gray areas. Those little white lies. Those times when stretching the truth just a bit could land a new piece of business. Or where speaking up for what is true and right and honorable leads to being branded as intolerant.

Where do we draw the line so we can do what is right and still, as much as is possible, "live at peace with everyone" (Romans 12:18)?

Jesus warned that troubles would come. It is not a matter of if, but when, we will be tested. Ultimately, "we must obey God rather than men," regardless of the consequences (Acts 5:29).

Determining ahead of time to do what is right is half the battle. If you've determined that acting unethically or illegally is not an option, your decision has already been made, and you'll be less apt to cave in when temptations come.

In Ephesians 6:10, Paul said to "be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength." In verse 11, he provided the secret to being strong in the midst of spiritual warfare: "Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the devil."

When a situation occurs that you may not have anticipated, seek the Scriptures and the counsel of godly men and women and pray for wisdom.

Living honorably has a price tag. Doing the right thing can cost us socially, financially, and emotionally. We may sometimes wonder if living honorably is worth it. Life would be easier, and perhaps more financially rewarding, if we'd just be team players, even if the team is headed in the wrong direction.

Equally discouraging is seeing those who lie, steal, or engage in other unethical behavior appear to skate by without consequences. They often even seem to prosper as a result of living dishonorably. Apparently Asaph struggled with this issue: "For I envied the arrogant; I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They are not in trouble like others . . . They mock, and they speak maliciously; they arrogantly threaten oppression . . . Look at them – the wicked! They are always at ease, and they increase their wealth. Did I purify my heart and wash my hands in innocence for nothing?" (Psalm 73:3-13).

Sounds like Asaph was having the kind of day you and I sometimes experience. Fortunately, that's not the end of the Psalm: "When I tried to understand all this, it seemed hopeless until I entered God's sanctuary. Then I understood their destiny. Indeed You put them in slippery places; You make them fall into ruin." (73:16-18).

Bill O'Reilly was right. If you and I live honorably, we will accomplish what we want to accomplish. If that is to do God's will on earth, we will escape the ruin of the unrighteous. We will also enjoy eternal rewards, the greatest of which will be to hear "Well done, good and faithful slave" (Matthew 25:21).

Don Beehler is the founder and president of ABC&D Communications, a public relations agency. He serves on the staff of Christ Fellowship in Franklin, Tennessee.

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