People You Can Trust
Santiago, a taxi driver in Argentina, did not have to debate what he would do. When a bag was left in his taxi, he simply returned it to its owner. Santiago’s gesture may seem ordinary, except for the fact that the bag contained more than $32,000!
CAN you imagine a world filled with trustworthy people? How different life would be! You could leave your child in the hands of a babysitter without fear. You would need neither keys to your home nor locks on your doors. Is that merely a dream?
The Effect of Moral Values
The Christian apostle Paul said of himself and his fellow Christians: “We wish to conduct ourselves honestly in all things.” (Hebrews 13:18) That is what Jehovah’s Witnesses strive to do. Their aim is to live up to the qualities described in the Bible at Isaiah 33:15: “There is one who is walking in continual righteousness and speaking what is upright, who is rejecting the unjust gain from frauds, who is shaking his hands clear from taking hold on a bribe.” How have some followed such a trustworthy course?
● ‘Speak what is upright.’ Domingo, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, works in the Philippines on a copra plantation. “Many people are not honest with their employers,” he says. “For example, if they have gathered copra, they do not tell the employer how many sacks they really have. By doing that, they can covertly sell some sacks on the side.”
Domingo and his family were nearly evicted from a plantation because they did not want to lie about production figures. Nevertheless, Domingo says: “We told our employer that even if it meant being evicted, we would not lie. Eventually, our employer said that Jehovah’s Witnesses are good people who can be trusted, and he gave us additional land to farm.”
● ‘Reject unjust gain.’ Pierre, the chief tax officer in a region of Cameroon, has had many opportunities to make easy money. When he was first assigned to pay the salaries of temporary workers, he noted an abnormality. “Salaries were being paid to personnel whose contracts had expired or who were deceased,” Pierre explains. “Instead of thinking that I could use this money, I kept a careful financial record and the corresponding funds in a safe.”
What was the result? “After two years,” Pierre says, “there was an audit to check on this situation. I was really very proud to be able to present an exact record and hand over the appropriate funds, which by then were substantial. The auditors warmly commended me for my honesty.”
● Avoid ‘taking a bribe.’ Throughout his career as a notary in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Ricardo has been offered many bribes. “On one occasion,” he recalls, “a lawyer tried to bribe me. Without my knowledge, he took the initiative to send a CD player to my house. In those days, a CD player was both a novelty and a luxury.”
What did Ricardo do? “My wife and I decided that we would not even unwrap the parcel,” he says. “I went to the lawyer’s office, taking him completely by surprise, and put the parcel on his desk. It was a good opportunity to explain why I was returning it. His secretary was especially impressed with my action.”
Although Jehovah’s Witnesses are not the only ones trying to be upright, as a people they have earned a reputation for being trustworthy. That is what recently led a Polish clothing chain to offer jobs only to Jehovah’s Witnesses. The sales manager stated: “There are honest people everywhere, but Jehovah’s Witnesses have principles, and they stick to them.”
Trustworthy Despite Poverty
In the minds of many people, poverty makes a person exempt from the need to be honest. For example, a CNN report tells of a 14-year-old Nigerian boy who spends his days swindling people over the Internet. “What do you want me to do?” he says to justify himself. “I feed my family—my sister, my mother, my [father]. Man must survive.”
Of course, the Bible does not promise riches to those who remain upright, but it does give assurance that they will receive life’s necessities. Isaiah 33:16 states: “His own bread will certainly be given him; his water supply will be unfailing.”
However, some might ask: ‘How can being trustworthy help those in extreme situations? What of those who struggle each day just to feed themselves?’
Consider Berthe, a widow in Cameroon who sells manioc-based savory sticks in her little miando stall. “Traditionally, there are 20 miando sticks in each packet,” she says. “It is common for storekeepers to put just 17 or 18 in most packets, but I prefer not to make my earnings by deceiving others.”
Is Berthe’s business thriving? Not always. “I often spend the whole day without selling anything,” she says. “But when I ask the food vendors for a dish of food and tell them that I still have not sold anything, they serve me because they know that I will pay them as soon as I have the money. It is a question of trust, which is earned over time.”
A God Who Deserves Our Trust
Our trust grows as we observe that a person acts in harmony with his words. Joshua, a leader in ancient Israel, said of God: “Not a promise failed out of all the good promise that Jehovah had made . . . It all came true.” (Joshua 21:45) Do we too have good reasons to trust in God?
God’s promises are so trustworthy that he compares his word to the rain. (Isaiah 55:10, 11) Indeed, what could prevent rain from falling, soaking the soil, and causing vegetation to grow? Nothing! In the same way, nothing can prevent the fulfillment of God’s promises.
One of those promises is recorded at 2 Peter 3:13, which states: “There are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.” God purposes to rid the earth of all who would exploit their fellow man. Would you like to learn more about how God will accomplish his purpose? Contact Jehovah’s Witnesses locally, or write to the appropriate address on page 5 of this magazine.
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Lucio, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Philippines, could have become dishonest. He found $27,500 in an old filing cabinet in an office that he was asked to clean. The office—and the money—belonged to his boss, who was away on a business trip. “It was the first time I had ever seen a dollar!” Lucio says.
When his boss returned, Lucio handed him the money. What was the result? “I was given more responsibility,” Lucio says. “In fact, my boss gave me a room where my whole family could stay. Even though life throughout the Philippines is hard, I really feel that because we have adhered to his laws, Jehovah God has cared for us.”
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Moïse’s stall is well-known in a market in Douala, Cameroon, where he sells fish. “I called my little shop The Scales,” he says, “because my scales are among the few in the whole market that have not been tampered with. I know that people test me out regularly. If they ask me for a kilo of fish, I give it to them. They always find a way to have the bag weighed elsewhere. When they do, they find that they have what appears to be more than a kilo! Then they know that I have not tried to deceive them! Many people say to me, ‘We come to you because you are honest.’”
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“We told our employer that even if it meant being evicted, we would not lie.”—Domingo, Philippines.
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“The auditors warmly commended me for my honesty.”—Pierre, Cameroon.
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“A lawyer tried to bribe me. . . .My wife and I decided that we would not even unwrap the parcel.”—Ricardo, Brazil.
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Berthe often spends the whole day without selling anything. But then the other food vendors will serve her because they know that she will pay them as soon as she has the money.