Recently we mused on the subject of integrity. The question we were struggling with was whether it’s okay to ever lie, even if motivated by good intent – not wanting to hurt the feelings of another, not to make another feel like he or she is imposing, not wanting another to worry about one’s health. Despite the motivation, the underlying issue we were discussing was integrity, the ability to be honest with oneself and others when under pressure to compromise, even if the pressure derives from a good place in ourselves, and the challenge of being honest about something if we think no one but ourself will know.
Even more challenging are the situations where remaining true to ourself is difficult given our human susceptibility to temptations like wanting more money, more travel, a better job, the tendency to want to “get ahead” – What to do about the cashier who gave the wrong change? We can afford that trip. This job is not right for me but it’ll get me a better job if I take this one – Being true to ourself, to who God created each of us to be in His image, requires integrity. How often do we miss the mark and is it ever okay?
We processed these complexities through the story of Joseph and concluded that the challenge of staying true to Yeshua’s teachings is a minute-by-minute and lifelong journey of faith as the backbone of our ability to maintain integrity.
I receive so many amazing reflections on these weekly encouragements. The blog format originally intended would bless so many. I cannot share all that I receive, but I could not resist sharing this response from Rachel Cobleigh who has allowed me to do so and bless us all with her thoughts:
“Integrity is made possible by faith in Messiah! That makes so much sense!
Lying to someone to make them feel better (or, really, to avoid having to deal with their possibly difficult response if you speak the truth) is also about a lack of faith: it’s a lack of faith in the person’s ability to handle the truth. There are valid cases where lying to someone genuinely is the best course of action, for example, when [a family member] in the throes of postpartum psychosis, believed all kinds of things were true that absolutely weren’t, but attempting to argue her towards truth while she was in that state would have been entirely counterproductive, so we made encouraging noises no matter what she said, until she could be safely delivered into the hands of medical providers. In that case, our lack of faith in her ability to handle the truth was fully justified.
But assuming the person is in a reasonably right mind, which is more loving: to wrestle with the truth alongside them, or to let them believe something you don’t 100% believe in, too? In addition, when is the truth important vs. when is it just my opinion, and my limited perspective and lack of understanding could lead to me believing a “truth” that isn’t actually true, so imposing it on them might not be helpful at all?
As with everything else in life, it’s impossible to consistently and wisely walk in the truth without Yeshua’s daily, moment-by-moment presence, directing our every expression. WWYD? 😊
I do love the story of Joseph, and how fixed he was on building his everything around the God of his fathers. Where else could he go to build a foundation for his life? Everything else had been stripped from him by the ones he trusted the most. I especially loved how he kept repeating throughout his life that his brothers intended his exile to Egypt to be for evil, but God meant it for good. Joseph even went so far as to say, in Bereshit 45:8, that it wasn’t his brothers who sent him to Egypt, but God.
Joseph’s perspective brings to mind a Flannery O’Connor quote:
“There is a moment in every great story in which the presence of grace can be felt as it waits to be accepted or rejected… From my own experience in trying to make stories ‘work’, I have discovered that what is needed is an action that is totally unexpected, yet totally believable, and I have found that, for me, this is always an action which indicates that grace has been offered. And frequently it is an action in which the devil has been the unwilling instrument of grace.”
Flannery O’Connor, on her own work, in “Mystery and Manners”
The story of Joseph doesn’t lay out his internal journey as it happens. We only see the external outworkings of it over time. But that internal reality becomes ever more visible externally, throughout the course of his life. It’s totally God’s m.o.! He did send Joseph to Egypt. He did cause me to be in a car accident. He does do things that make us uncomfortable! But if we allow Him to work, if we accept that waiting presence of grace that He offers us in the midst of the trauma (and in some sense, the traumatic event itself is also the grace, because it is His offer to redeem our sinful, broken-jars-of-clay selves into something extraordinary that shines with the light of His glory!), we too will be able to fully forgive those who harmed us, we will be able to be a blessing far beyond anything we could have planned or anticipated, and we will be able to live out our entire lives with integrity.”
Thank you, Rachel, and