January 17 – Integrity
Truth and Integrity
Read: Matthew 5:33-37
My daily newspaper carries a column devoted to measuring the “truth quotient” of statements made by people in the public sphere. Ratings range from “true” to “pants on fire.” It’s a sign of our times—we expect our leaders to stretch the truth, to put their “spin” on statistics, or to out-and-out lie. We wonder what and who to believe, and we grow cynical about our ability to affect change. Yet most of us would say we value truth telling and integrity.
The old Quaker query “Is truth prospering among you?” resonates with me. In times of misunderstanding and confusion, I believe that truth—like cream—eventually floats to the top. It may seem overly optimistic and often requires waiting, but in the end, truth prevails. Integrity wins.
Jesus urged his disciples to let their “yes” be “yes” and their “no” be “no.” Early Quakers adopted plain speech in response to Jesus’ teaching. They became known as “Publishers of Truth” who “spoke truth to power.” As followers of Jesus we have a role in helping truth prosper. But what does that mean in our day-to-day lives? How can we be people of integrity and stand firmly on truth?
We need to be informed. Before we pass information on to others, we need to check our sources and be sure we’re not passing along misinformation. Rumors abound from both “sides” in many of our life situations. As we approach elections, a struggling economy, health care or educational reforms, what role—if any—do we play in propagating rumors, or in prospering truth?
We may need to be open to changing our view of the truth, to be willing to ask, “Is my faith defined by what I think I know, or defined by truth? Am I willing to lay aside preconceived ideas and traditions—to allow a ‘paradigm crash’—in order to embrace truth? Am I open to God’s voice; am I willing to receive truth from ‘unconventional’ sources?”
Truth speaks inwardly, and resonates with our sense of what is right and just and good. Truth affirms the dignity of humans created in the image of God.
Am I willing to listen to another person’s point of view and discern the truth that might reside there?
Or, do I stubbornly clinging to traditions or what I’ve been taught is “true,”
and in so doing quench the Spirit’s work in my life?
Do I grasp at dogma and defend my long-held beliefs—or am I open to change and the work of grace?