The World Needs a Good Dose of Old-Fashioned Honesty


In our fast-paced, ever-changing world, the value of old-fashioned honesty often gets overlooked. It gives me great honor to introduce Brother Glenn Colley from the West Huntsville church of Christ in Huntsville, Alabama, who recently spoke on this very topic. Huntsville is not only known for producing great preachers but also remarkable individuals, like my wife, who hails from this wonderful city. Today, I want to share insights from Brother Colley’s impactful sermon, drawing from 1 Peter 2:1-2, to inspire us to embrace honesty in our daily lives.

Prayer and Reflection

Let’s begin with a moment of prayer to prepare our hearts and minds for this lesson.

Our Father and our God in heaven, hallowed be Your great and matchless name. We thank You for being the wonderful God that You are, loving us and caring for us. Thank You for extending Your mercy and grace towards us and allowing us the opportunity to gather together as Saints in Your kingdom to listen to Your word. We pray for wisdom and courage to stand for truth and proclaim it. Guide and keep us throughout this day and help us in our understanding of Your word. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.

Main Sermon: Old-Fashioned Honesty

1 Peter 2:1-2: A Call to Honorable Conduct

Brother Colley’s sermon centered around 1 Peter 2:1-2:

“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles…”

These verses urge us to live honorably among non-believers, so our good conduct can lead others to glorify God. This call to honorable living is not just about avoiding sexual immorality but extends to all forms of integrity and ethical behavior.

Christian Ethics and Practical Applications

Public and Private Ethics

Honesty isn’t just about what we do in public but also how we conduct ourselves in private. It’s essential to align our private actions with our public declarations of faith. Our true character is often revealed in situations where we think no one is watching. For example, consider the scenario where you find a wallet full of cash on the ground. What would you do? The ethical choice would be to turn it in to the authorities, ensuring that it reaches its rightful owner.

NRT: Next Right Thing

One practical way to maintain honesty is by adopting the principle of NRT—doing the Next Right Thing. This simple yet profound concept encourages us to focus on making the right decision in every situation, no matter the pressure. Whether it’s deciding to speak up against a wrong at work or choosing to return excess change given by mistake at a store, the Next Right Thing is always the ethical choice.

Challenges to Ethical Living

Pressure and Compromise

External pressures can lead to compromising ethical standards. Biblical examples include Reuben’s dilemma in Genesis 37 and David’s actions in 2 Samuel 11, both of which show how pressure can lead to poor decisions. Reuben, the eldest brother of Joseph, faced immense pressure from his siblings who wanted to kill Joseph. Instead of standing firm, he suggested putting Joseph in a pit, hoping to rescue him later. This compromise led to Joseph being sold into slavery. Similarly, David, under the pressure of covering his sin with Bathsheba, orchestrated the death of her husband, Uriah. To resist this, we must decide in advance to always do the right thing.

Time Constraints and Shortcuts

Time constraints can tempt us to take shortcuts. For instance, a college student might plagiarize due to a tight deadline. It’s crucial to uphold integrity even when pressured for time. Another example is in the workplace, where employees might cut corners on a project to meet a deadline, potentially compromising the quality and integrity of their work. The ethical approach would be to communicate openly about the time constraints and seek extensions or additional resources rather than compromising on the standards of the work.

Peer Approval and Influence

The desire for peer approval can also lead to unethical choices. Herod’s rash vow in Matthew 14, influenced by those around him, led to John the Baptist’s beheading. Herod was more concerned about losing face in front of his guests than doing the right thing. We must be cautious of letting peer pressure compromise our values. In our lives, this might look like going along with a group’s decision to gossip about a colleague, even when we know it’s wrong, just to fit in. Instead, we should strive to be the voice of reason and integrity, even if it means standing alone.

Financial Weakness and Temptation

Financial struggles often tempt people to act unethically. Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 lied about their donation to the church, driven by a desire for both financial gain and public praise. Honest living requires us to resist such temptations, even when finances are tight. For example, consider someone who finds themselves in financial difficulty and decides to falsify information on a loan application. While this might provide temporary relief, it compromises their integrity and can lead to more significant issues down the line. Upholding honesty, even in tough times, is crucial for long-term peace and trustworthiness.

Pleasure and Ethical Decisions

The pursuit of pleasure can lead to ethical lapses, like calling in sick to enjoy a day off or engaging in questionable activities while on vacation. We must prioritize integrity over immediate gratification. This might mean choosing to refrain from activities that compromise our values, even if they offer temporary enjoyment. For example, skipping church to attend a social event might seem harmless, but it reflects our priorities and can set a pattern of compromising our faith commitments for temporary pleasures.

Power and Pride

The hunger for power or the fear of losing it can influence ethical decisions. Historical and biblical examples, such as King Saul, show the destructive nature of compromised ethics for the sake of power. True integrity involves humility and a commitment to doing right, regardless of the consequences. Consider a manager who takes credit for their team’s work to secure a promotion. While this might advance their career in the short term, it erodes trust and respect from their team, ultimately undermining their leadership.


Pride can lead to unethical behavior to avoid humiliation. For instance, lying to cover up a mistake may seem easier than facing the truth. Maintaining honesty means swallowing our pride and admitting our faults. An example of this is a student who, upon receiving a lower grade than expected, decides to cheat on the next exam to boost their score. This not only compromises their integrity but also hinders their learning and personal growth. Embracing humility and honesty, even in the face of failure, builds character and respect.

The Golden Rule: The Ultimate Guide to Ethical Living

Matthew 7:12: The Gold Standard

The greatest principle for ethical living comes from Jesus in Matthew 7:12:

“Whatever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them.”

This Golden Rule is a simple yet profound guide for daily conduct, applicable to everyone, everywhere.

Three Key Reasons to Follow the Golden Rule

  1. Common Sense: It’s a principle anyone can understand and apply, regardless of background or education. It aligns with our innate understanding of fairness and justice.
  2. Ease of Understanding: The simplicity of treating others as we wish to be treated makes it easy to grasp. This principle transcends cultural and societal differences, making it a universal guideline.
  3. Universal Applicability: It serves as a daily compass, guiding our actions in any situation, transcending cultural, economic, and social boundaries. Whether dealing with family, friends, colleagues, or strangers, the Golden Rule provides clear guidance for ethical behavior.


Reflect and Commit

Reflect on your own ethical standards and make a commitment to uphold honesty in all areas of your life. Decide today to do the Next Right Thing, no matter the cost. Consider journaling about moments when you faced ethical dilemmas and how you handled them. This reflection can help you recognize patterns and strengthen your resolve to act with integrity.

Engage and Share

Share your experiences and thoughts on ethical challenges with others. Engage in community discussions and support one another in striving for higher ethical standards. By sharing our stories and learning from each other, we can create a culture of honesty and integrity in our communities.

Supplementary Materials

Discussion Questions

  1. What are some common pressures that might tempt you to compromise your ethics?
  2. How can the principle of NRT (Next Right Thing) be applied in your daily life?
  3. Share a time when you faced an ethical dilemma and how you resolved it.

Resource List

  • Related scripture passages for deeper study: Proverbs 11:3, Colossians 3:9-10, Ephesians 4:25.

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