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Is It Possible to Be Honest in a Corrupt World?

Is It Possible to Be Honest in a Corrupt World?

“We wish to conduct ourselves honestly in all things.”​—HEBREWS 13:18.

ALTHOUGH our sinful nature, the world we live in, and the Devil can exert great pressure on us, we can resist their influence! How? By drawing close to God and by applying time-tested principles from his Word, the Bible. Consider two examples.

BIBLE PRINCIPLE: “Do not model your behaviour on the contemporary world.”​—Romans 12:2, New Jerusalem Bible.

“The Bible has helped me to see the benefits of honesty.”​—GUILHERME

Real-life experience: Guilherme is a successful Brazilian businessman. He admits that it is not easy to be honest. “A business person can easily begin to adopt dishonest practices, perhaps because of the pressure to meet company goals or to survive in a competitive world,” he says. “Many people regard giving and receiving bribes as normal practice. When you  are an entrepreneur with heavy financial responsibilities, it is a challenge to be honest.”

Even so, Guilherme has successfully resisted the pressure to be dishonest. He says: “Even in a permissive business environment, it is possible to be honest. You need to have strong moral values. The Bible has helped me to see the benefits of honesty. An honest person has a clear conscience, an inner calmness, and self-respect. He can be a positive influence on those around him.”

BIBLE PRINCIPLE: “People who want to be rich fall into all sorts of temptations and traps. They are caught by foolish and harmful desires that drag them down and destroy them. The love of money causes all kinds of trouble.”​—1 Timothy 6:9, 10, Contemporary English Version.

“I’m grateful that applying the Bible’s high moral principles has earned me a good reputation.”​—ANDRÉ

Real-life experience: André is the owner of a company that installs security systems. One of his clients is a large soccer club. On one occasion, after a big game, André went to the administration offices and presented an invoice for the services he had performed. The financial department was still busy counting the money it had just received from the ticket offices. As it was already late, the supervisor hurriedly paid the suppliers, including André.

“On my way home, I noticed that the supervisor had overpaid me,” relates André. “I knew that he probably would never know who had received the extra money. But I also knew that the poor man would have to pay what was missing out of his own pocket! I decided to go back. I managed to push my way through a crowd of fans and return the extra money. The supervisor was greatly surprised. No one had ever returned any money to him.”

“That act of honesty earned the supervisor’s respect,” André continues. “A number of years have gone by, but of all the original suppliers, I am the only one who still has a contract with the club. I’m grateful that applying the Bible’s high moral principles has earned me a good reputation.”

It is encouraging to know that we can, with God’s help, resist corruptive influences. However, individual efforts will never completely root out corruption. The causes go deep​—too deep for imperfect humans to solve on their own. Does this mean, then, that corruption will never end? The final article in this series highlights the Bible’s encouraging answer.