THE SHEPARD AND THE WOLF.
There once was a shepherd boy who kept his flock not far from a little village. One day, while watching the sheep all by himself, he decided to play a little trick on the people in the village. He started running toward the village, shouting, "Wolf! Wolf! A wolf is attacking my sheep!"
The villagers all left their shops and homes and fields to help him, following him all the way out to the field where he kept his sheep. But when they arrived, there was no sign of any wolf. The boy laughed at his little joke, and the people returned to their village, shaking their heads at the boy's foolishness.
Some time later the shepherd boy got a little bored and decided to play his little trick again. Once more he ran to the village, once more the villagers came to help him, but once more they discovered there was no wolf.
Still later the shepherd boy got a little lonely in the fields by himself, so he tried his trick a third time, with the same results. The villagers came and discovered that they'd been fooled again.
Then one day a wolf really did break into the sheepfold and began killing the boy's lambs. He tried to chase the wolf away, but he could not. At last, he ran to the village, crying, "Wolf! Wolf! A wolf is attacking my sheep!"
The people in the village heard his cries for help, but no one paid any attention to the boy; they thought he was fooling them again. No matter how loudly or how insistently he cried, no one believed the boy, and he lost all his sheep that day.
This fable illustrates an important truth. The person who is dishonest not only hurts others, he hurts himself, too.
Dishonesty cuts both ways. That's part of the reason God commands honesty he wants to protect us from the harm dishonesty will do to us. He wants to protect us from having a bad reputation. He wants us to enjoy the rewards that come from being trustworthy and from having people believe what we say. And he knows that the only way to truly achieve those rewards is by being honest.
REFLECT: Have you ever had trouble getting someone to believe you were telling the truth? If so, what did it feel like? Did it make you feel good? bad? frustrated? insulted? what's the best way to avoid those kinds of feelings in the future?
ACT: Write the slogan "Honesty is the best policy" on an index card and post it where it will remind you often of the benefits of being honest. (If you're artistic, you might want to add a drawing of a sheep or a shepherd's crook to remind you of the boy who cried wolf.)
PRAY: "Help me never to tell a lie" (Proverbs 30:8).