When I was a kid and Mother suspected that my story had been slightly amplified, she would say, “Son, look me in the eye!” She was convinced that if I could look her in the eye and tell her something, it was the truth! In Numbers 5 of your Old Testament, there is a passage which I’ve never fully understood; nonetheless, it was a provision to determine whether a wife was lying about being unfaithful to her husband. A wife who had been so accused went to the tabernacle, and took a vow before the Lord saying that she had slept with no one but her husband. Then she drank water which had some dust from the tabernacle floor in it. If she was telling the truth, there was no harm. If she was lying, she was cursed with childlessness.
In ancient China, a suspected wrongdoer was forced by authorities to chew rice powder while being interrogated. If the powder was dry when the accused spit it out afterward, he was found guilty on the grounds that the stress of lying caused a dry mouth.
Looking someone in the eye, taking a vow before the Lord, or chewing rice powder all indicate that when you are dishonest, there are physical signs or manifestations. Studies indicate that no matter how cool a person may be when he lies, his body reveals the tension he’s experiencing in many ways. That’s the premise behind polygraph or lie detector tests. They measure the changes in blood pressure, breathing and skin conductivity (which reflects perspiration) caused by stress.
One authority in lie detection actually believes that these stress symptoms appear at the microsecond you decide to lie, not necessarily when you are lying, which accounts for the fact that a polygraph or lie detector test isn’t always fool proof. An individual who is accused of wrong doing is under stress and his body reacts with stress symptoms just as the person does who is guilty—one because he is accused, the other because he has done wrong.
I doubt that I have to convince you that there are fewer honest people today than a generation ago. Relationships have broken down, and subsequently, we don’t trust each other, and with distrust, we feel the need to protect ourselves by making ourselves look better than we are, or trying to protect our own interests. Vulnerability is lost and hypocrisy is in. We also talked about the fact that we’ve lost touch with spiritual moorings, and with the societal rejection of the Bible as a standard of ethics, we’ve lost a sense of integrity which demands total and complete honesty. Like the Sawis tribe of New Guinea, Indonesia who believe that treachery is to be valued above honesty, we have begun to think of the hero as the guy who gets away with something, the politician who makes the bundle of money from the pay off and gets away with it.
But what we have not come to grips with as a society or as individuals is the high cost of dishonesty in terms of personal and national integrity. In simple terms integrity is doing what you say you will do. It means being where you say you will be, at the time you say you will be there. It means knowing that your word is as good as your oath, and when we violate all of this, we become uncertain, hesitant, and distrustful. No relationship can endure without trust, and there can be no trust without truth. When confidence in leadership whether it is your government, your church, or your workplace is in crisis, our stomachs knot and our hearts are filled with uncertainty.
Only those that return to the mooring of God’s Word, which makes relationships cohesive, will discover that honesty is one of the ingredients of the glue that keeps us together.
Resource Reading: 2 Timothy 2:16-26
Text: Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ, Ephesians 4:15
GUIDELINES with Harold Sala – November 21, 2017