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Posts Tagged ‘honesty’

Jo 17Let’s say that one day, through no fault of your own, you damaged someone else’s car when they were not around. Assuming you yourself were unhurt, would you immediately look for the owner so you could discuss things face to face with them? If they couldn’t be found, would you leave a note with your contact details? Or would you hope no one had seen what you did and quickly scurry away, breathing a sigh of relief?

Recently, I backed into someone’s car in a shopping centre carpark because a floor mat in my car had somehow covered the brakes. After I collected my wits, I looked around for the owner, but also began writing my details on a page from a notebook I had with me. Whenever someone came by, I asked if the car was theirs–and I was more than a little shocked at their responses. Most looked at me as if I was weird to bother writing a note. One man even said to me straight out, ‘Oh, you’re good, leaving your details!’ Obviously, there was no way he would have!

When I told a friend about this experience, she mentioned how she had once managed to put a scratch on the side of an older utility, so she too left her details on the windscreen. The owner was utterly amazed that she bothered to leave a note—he could not get over her honesty and thanked her profusely, telling her the scratch did not matter. And when the owner of the vehicle I damaged contacted me, his nice, polite message also said in part, ‘I appreciate that you left a note’.

It seems to me many people in our society today feel it’s okay to disappear in such situations, without owning up to what has happened. After all, nothing can be proved, if there were no witnesses. Yet … well, what happened to the old rule that honesty is the best policy? Or, for that matter, the words of Jesus himself that many call ‘The Golden Rule’ and quote blithely from time to time:

Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31 New International Version

One day years ago now, I returned to my parked car only to discover that someone apparently driving some sort of truck had reversed into it and over the top of the bonnet, resulting in considerable damage—but no note! Did this person not realise what had happened? Perhaps. Did they not have a pen and paper? Perhaps. Did they know they would be unable to pay for the damage or afford to lose their insurance excess? Quite likely. Whatever the reason, they had decided to disappear while the going was good. I have never forgotten how this made me feel way back then—and now it was my turn to decide whether to do the same to someone else or listen to those words of Jesus.

It’s a no-brainer really, isn’t it? Why would we think our standards are better than our Creator’s, who knows how we function best, both as individuals and as a society? It may cost us financially to be honest, but surely the joy of living how God wants us to live is worth so much more than that, don’t you think?

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Is there one overriding quality in a person you find essential for any deep and lasting relationship?  There definitely is for me.  And that quality is honesty or, if you like, integrity.  I like to know that you are undivided, that you say what you mean and mean what you say, that there is no duplicity going on.

So you can imagine how, when I first saw the plant lunaria or, as it is more commonly called, honesty, growing in a friend’s garden a few years ago, I desperately wanted it for my own garden.  I was duly given a few seedlings and, to my surprise, they survived, eventually developing into quite tall plants with large, dark green leaves and beautiful purple flowers.  I loved watching my honesty grow and flourish and burst into bloom – truly a challenging parable unfolding before my eyes.  But it was what happened subsequently that I loved even more.  As the plant began to die off, the dry stems and the oval shaped seedpods were left behind.  And I soon discovered how to remove the outer skin of these seedpods so as to leave the translucent, pearly inner membrane attached to the stems, which I then placed in a large vase in our lounge as a special, home-grown dried arrangement.  And it is still there to this day, reminding me of the value of integrity in my life.

It’s so easy, isn’t it, to opt for half-truths in order to get ourselves out of a sticky situation or to embellish the truth to make ourselves look better than others.  Some time back, in a phone conversation with a business associate, I was left wondering whether to trust his word about anything, as he asserted he would do this and that and tried to explain away various broken promises from our past dealings.  That is disquieting to me – particularly when this person claims to be a Christian.  But I know within myself it is very tempting at times to claim more holiness or more wisdom or even more integrity than I actually possess.  As Jesus pointed out once, it’s very easy to judge others without honestly taking a look at oneself:

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:5)

Jesus certainly didn’t mince words when it came to hypocrisy or pretence.  On other occasion he said:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything uncleanIn the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.  (Matthew 23: 27-28)

So I get the picture that God values honesty and integrity – that it’s really important for what we say to match up with how we live and act.

Is that what you figure too?  Is that how you live?

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