Day 21: We’re Chosen To Fellowship Together — By Being Honest With Each Other

Point to Ponder: Honesty strengthens community
Verse to Remember: “No more lies, no more pretense.” — Ephesians 4:25a (Msg.)
Question to Consider: Which temptation are you more prone to struggle with: lies of commission or lies of omissions?
[Read More] thoughts on Day 21 of Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Community.

I was struck by Rick Warren’s boldness in placing “lies of commission” and “lies of omission” on the same level, as different aspects of honesty. I usually associate the former with ‘honesty’ and the latter with ‘openness’ — which can be a useful distinction — but in this context I see the value in tying them together.

In particular, it relates to the issues of integrity I’ve been wrestling with over the last year or so. Because of my scientific background, I can’t help but associate ‘integrity’ with ‘integer’, as in whole numbers (without fractions). To me, integrity means being one person — a whole person, and the same person — at all times and places. Thus, honesty reflects a commitment to presenting ourselves as we really are to others in our community, rather than putting on different masks for different circumstances.

However, the more I understand what integrity means, the more out of reach it becomes. As I mature, i find myself even more aware of the masks I subconsciously shift between in different contexts: of trying to appear as what I think people will accept, rather than what I really feel I am. Worse, I realize how many masks I put on for and to myself, to avoid having to honestly face my own brokenness, selfishness, and sin.

Yet, at the same time I’m learning that honesty is not simply saying what I feel when I feel it. That may be an accurate reflection of my emotional state, but it doesn’t reflect my larger commitment to loving and valuing others: thoughtless honesty can be as damaging to relationships as willful deception. Instead, the challenge is to first be a whole person — integrating (there’s that word again) my emotional, spiritual, and intellectual selves around God’s purpose for me — and then to also accurately communicate that to those around me: reflecting both the wholeness I desire and the brokenness I experience.

Its not easy, and we’ll never do it perfectly. But we have to try. Or else condemn ourselves — and those we love — to hollow relationships and fractured psyches. Or worse.

Prayer: God, I long to be a man — one man, a whole man, your man — even as you are One God. Save me from the hell of pretense and self-justification, that fragments both my self and my communities. Root me in your acceptance and truth, that I can face (and embrace) everything I am: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Then — at the same time! — grant me the fruit of honesty, that I might be empowered to manifest the totality of my character within my community. In order to heal both it and myself. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.