Two houses, both built over a hundred years ago, stand atop a grassy hill in Hartford, Connecticut. The two houses are separated by a single yard.
One of the two houses is one of the most spectacular homes of its day. It is a large and eccentric house. It has gables, cupolas, porches, passageways, garish colors and decorations. Some of the features of this house, like its porches and staircase, resemble a Mississippi River steamboat.
The other house is much smaller, just a cozy little cottage. It has small rooms and a single narrow staircase. It is decorated nicely but not extravagantly. The bookcases throughout the house are filled with Bibles and other books.
If you were to visit these two houses in Hartford, you could probably figure out a lot about the famous person who lived in each house. You could be pretty sure that the person who built and lived in the first house had a vivid and eccentric personality. You might also assume that person loved Mississippi River steamboats. And you would be right, for the first house was the home of Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), the famous author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
You might also think that the second house was owned by a much more modest and quiet person, maybe even someone with a Christian background. And you would be right, because the little cottage on that hill was once owned by Harriet Beecher Stowe, a preacher's daughter who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Interesting, isn't it? You can tell by looking at their houses what kind of people Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe were. You can see hints that Twain was once a riverboat captain. You can kind of tell that Stowe was a Christian.
It's sort of the same with God and his commandments. His commandments not only show what he values, they show what he is like. And his commandments not to lie, not to steal, and not to cheat reveal something about his own nature and character. Moses described the Lord this way after he had received the law: "The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth" (Exodus 34:6, KJV). God values honesty because he is "abundant in ... truth." He is a God of truth and truthfulness, which is why lying and cheating and stealing are wrong.
REFLECT: How do God's commands not to steal, not to lie, and not to cheat reflect his nature and character? Why is honesty right? Why is dishonesty wrong? Complete the following statements with your beliefs:
God commands honesty because
God values honesty because
PRAY: "Lord God, you are abundant in goodness and truth. I know that honesty is right because you are honest and true in your nature. Please help me to be honest, because I know that being honest is being like you."