Trust and Cooperation Require Truthtelling
Truthtelling builds trust and civil cooperation among human beings. Trust is critical for a prosperous society, and being a person of one’s word establishes trust and trustworthiness. The Mosaic Law underscored this in Deuteronomy 25:15, connecting honest dealings with Israel’s prosperity in the land. “You shall have only a full and honest weight; you shall have only a full and honest measure, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (also see Leviticus 19:36). Similarly Proverbs brings out the connection between trustworthiness and social harmony. Proverbs 3:29 emphasizes that trust among neighbors is what enables them to live in peace, not fearing harm from one’s neighbor. Further, Proverbs emphasize that trustworthiness brings healing to both relationships and communities (Prov. 13:17, 25:13). Adam Smith was very clear that honest dealings and trustworthiness were critical for a properly functioning market system. Cultures that are given to corruption are often in the most impoverished parts of the world, since it is more difficult and risky to do business in cultures in which the level of trust is low. Similarly, companies in which there is a culture of distrust typically have higher costs of doing business, since they require costly regimens of oversight. They also have intangible costs, as employees tend to be more reluctant to “go the extra mile” for their employer and tend to be less eager to embrace change and less committed to their work.
For more on this, see Francis Fukuyama, Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity (New York: Free Press, 1995).