Being honest is the best policy – unless you’re trying to sell something.
The purpose is to sell the stuff, isn’t it? Who cares about the housewife in the grocery story who will turn up her nose at produce that is too ripe or damaged. By that time, the buyer has his money and he doesn’t have to deal with the company that has bought the tractor-trailer load of his produce.
At least, that’s what my husband was told at a meeting where he refused to load less than the best.
“Our reputation is on the line,” he told his Board.
Not everyone agreed with him.
“Everybody knows,” one of the members said, “that you can put good quality in the front and good quality in the back. Put the rest in the middle. Nobody will check that.”
As if Dave would do that.
But some of them expected him to do just that.
Because, they said, we’ve got to sell this stuff.
“You,” one of the older members spoke, shaking his finger at their manager, “are just too honest.”
Yet when they hired him, they liked his integrity. They knew he was a man of his word, that he’d get the job done, and that they could trust him to not short-change them. They wanted him because he was honest.
Yet when it came to selling their produce, they wanted to make a profit at no loss to their labor. If he had to be dishonest to do it, so be it, they said.
We can’t have it both ways, folks.
That’s what Jesus was talking about when He said, “Do to others just like you’d like them to do to you.”
- We expect others to be honest with us, but somehow think it’s not that important when we want things our way.
- We expect our employees not to cheat us, yet we think it’s okay to shaft them.
- We think others should not lie to us, but don’t think twice about telling only part of a truth or embellishing what is true to make our side sound better.
- We think politicians should be honest with us but think nothing of fudging some numbers – or not even reporting them – on our income tax.
- We expect our kids to be truthful with us – but sometimes fudge information we share with them, on purpose.
- We want our employer to treat us fairly, yet think nothing of short-changing them in our time, our worth ethic or our attitude.
I like being married to a man who is too honest. Considering that this company sold several hundred thousand dollars worth of produce a year, being accused of being too honest was one of the best compliments he could get. They valued his contribution enough that they held a half million dollar life insurance policy on him. What a paradox.
If we depend on the advice of others, we will often go wrong. There is one plumb line by which we must measure. Following what God says will guarantee that we will do it right. Honesty is always the best policy.
So can a businessman be too honest? Or a Christian, for that matter?
What better accusation can there be than to be accused, as a businessman, of being too honest?!