Poor Irvine Royal’s senior assembly was subjected to my meanderings on ‘honesty & integrity’ (school’s theme for week) first thing this morning.
Results from my hand poll: 1. 50% of students were half asleep, or too cool, to put their hand up; 2. politicians are rarely believed (one reckoned Donald Trump tells the truth sometimes); 3. BBC coverage is thought most reliable of TV News; 4. Teachers are believed most of the time and Ministers & Priests occasionally. I smelt much cynicism, or questioning, about people in public positions.
Of course, someone can sincerely tell the truth, when it’s rubbish. For many years people believed planet earth to be flat! You can stand on the wrong side of the rails at Irvine train station and end up in Ayr rather than intended Glasgow. Here ‘judgement’, rather than honesty or integrity, comes under scrutiny. St Paul reckoned that, if we Christians are wrong in our belief that ‘Jesus beat death and came a live again’, then we’re to be pitied more than anyone in the world. I suppose, from a nonbeliever’s perspective, you may be willing to overlook my ‘fallacy, myth, mistake or misjudgement’, if the my values benefit and bless others (i.e. you don’t rate my beliefs about Jesus but value my (Jesus’) values like ‘loving others as I love myself’.
Spencer Johnson said, “Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.” But who / what holds our inner world accountable? 12 years old I stole 50p from my mum (£10 today?) and conveniently forgot about it, but The Holy Spirit and my conscience colluded months later to convict me. Ashamed, I apologised to mum and was immediately forgiven. Many other times in life I’ve messed up and sought forgiveness.
Aiding my honesty and integrity is my family (nearest and dearest), who won’t let me get away with anything. Just the other Sunday Dorothy rightly told me, “Neil, you can’t say that in a sermon!” Church families should be loving communities where the truth can be graciously shared and we’re held accountable to God’s great commands to ‘love God with our all and our neighbour as self’. At Fullarton we try to pair each other with ‘soul friends’ (buddies & mentors) to get beyond masks to the real inner you (soul) to make sure we’re not kidding ourselves and others on. I fortunately have a retired minister for such accountability. And praise God for Jesus who comes full of ‘Grace’ and ‘Truth’ to help us find forgiveness and fresh starts. Here’s King David’s response after confrontation about his secret, sinful behaviour:
“Generous in love—God, give grace! Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.
Scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in your laundry.
I know how bad I’ve been; my sins are staring me down.
You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil.
You have all the facts before you; whatever you decide about me is fair.
I’ve been out of step with you for a long time, in the wrong since before I was born.
What you’re after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.” (Psalm 51:1-6 / MSG)
Dear Lord, help me to be honest with myself, others and You!