"Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." – Thomas Jefferson
The Bible shows that honesty is of primary importance in any society. It is represented by many biblical concepts such as truth and faithfulness and is used as the opposite of negative and destructive qualities such as lying, cheating and deceit.
But in today’s world we see dishonesty in every aspect of life – from “fake news” and false claims made in resumes and job applications to failure to report income that would be taxed. Lack of honesty is so widespread that we have a situation strikingly similar to that described by the Old Testament prophets. The prophet Isaiah wrote “… justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter” (Isaiah 59:14), and Jeremiah affirmed that “Everyone deceives his neighbor, and no one speaks the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they weary themselves committing iniquity” (Jeremiah 9:5).
It is always easy to find reasons why being dishonest might seem to be advantageous, but Thomas Jefferson’s statement that “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom” is solidly rooted in what the Bible has to say about this vital quality. The Book of Proverbs – the Bible’s own “book of wisdom” – contains more references to aspects of what we call “honesty” than to any other quality associated with wisdom. The proverbs reflect the fact that sooner or later dishonesty always brings unhappiness to ourselves and to others, and it is truly wiser to simply make honesty a practice in every aspect of our lives. Anything less than honesty is not only wrong, it is also a tragic lack of wisdom.