A Gesture of Honesty
By DANNY MINTON
The internet is full of sites telling of the event at the Burlada, Spain Cross Country Race in 2012. The lead had come down to two men, Ivan Fernandez Anaya of Spain and Abel Mutai of Kenya. Mutai was closing in on the finish line and first place in the race when confused and thinking he had won pulled up several meters short of the finish line. Anaya closed the gap quickly and could have easily passed Mutai for the win, but instead slowed down behind him and pointed to the finish line a short distance ahead of them. Anaya gestured Mutai across the line for the win and settled for second. A journalist is said to have interviewed him and asked why he let Mutai win. Anaya said, “I didn’t deserve to win it. I did what I had to do. He was the rightful winner. He created a gap that I couldn’t have closed if he hadn’t made a mistake. As soon as I saw he was stopping, I knew I wasn’t going to pass him.”
Anaya added, “I also think that I have earned more of a name having done what I did than if I had won. And that is very important, because today, with the way things are in all circles, in soccer, in society, in politics, where it seems anything goes, a gesture of honesty goes down well.”
It’s unfortunate that the world we live in poses so much dishonesty in all realms of life. Lying or telling “half-truths” has become the norm for many people. Doing whatever it takes to get ahead or to get “my” way seeps into many lives. Honesty and integrity give way to finding ways to get ahead in life. The attitude, “if no one sees, it’s okay,” or “it’s too bad if they make a mistake,” replaces doing what is right.
We talk a lot about the dishonest people in the government. We call out celebrities caught lying. People who cheat find themselves looked down upon by those around them. In short, we don’t respect people who don’t show integrity. We don’t trust people who lack integrity in their lives. It becomes difficult for people who find themselves in one of these situations to regain that trust they once had from others.
Before we begin to throw darts of negativity at others, maybe we should take a look at our own lives. What would we have done in Anaya’s place? Would we do as he did, or would we take that opportunity to take advantage of the leader’s mistake? Is being a person of integrity more essential to us than coming out ahead? One source adds another comment from Anaya with him, saying, “What would my mom say?” As Christians, we might add, “What would Jesus say?” “What would others say about us?”
Our honesty and integrity are things in life that we can control. They are not something given to us; they are possessions we earn by how we live our lives. We choose to tell the truth or lie. It’s our choice to mislead someone or not. How we handle the mistakes of others reveals something about our inner person. In addition, everything we say and do affects those around us.
The writer of Proverbs shares the following thoughts. “I also think that I have earned more of a name having done what I did than if I had won. And that is very important, because today, with the way things are in all circles, in soccer, in society, in politics, where it seems anything goes, a gesture of honesty goes down well.” (Prov. 11:3 ESV) “Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.” (Prov. 19:1 ESV) “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” (Prov. 10:9 ESV)
Before criticizing others, first look at yourself. Don’t expect something out of others that you don’t practice yourself. Think carefully before taking advantage of someone who makes an unfortunate mistake. When faced with a challenging situation, ask yourself, “How would Jesus respond?”
Society needs more people who exhibit honesty and integrity. The place to start is with our own life. When people mention our name, what comes to their mind? Is our life “a gesture of honesty?”
Danny Minton is an Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ
Thank you for the reminder of placing others first.
I greatly admire people who value their integrity above their worldly success. I have been blessed to have known many of them.