This series of reflections dips into the well of Scripture as regards the Quaker testimonies of: Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship/Sustainability.
Integrity is essential to our being as Friends, but also as human beings on this earth. So much of our society has been harmed due to the lack of integrity in business dealings, politics, care for the environment, and interpersonal relationships. These elements of life in the secular world today are not based on the foundation of "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable" (Philippians 4:8). Instead, it seems that many if not the majority of people prefer "whatever gets me ahead, whatever makes me the most money, whatever brings me fame, whatever gives me the edge over others."
In history, Friends were known for their integrity, their honesty, their forthrightness, and their trustworthiness - all based in Truth. They made every effort to follow the teaching found in Titus: "Show yourself in all respects a model of good works and in your teaching show integrity, gravity, and sound speech that cannot be censured…" (Titus 2:7-8). One way Friends would encourage one another in this was by the greeting, "How does the Truth prosper with thee?" It was a way of helping each other discern whether or not they were being faithful to the will of God in every moment. Today, we can still present this query to ourselves when we are tempted to stray from integrity.
Imagine, if you will, a world where people meant what they said, where there was no prevarication or twisting of facts for personal gain. It is an ideal for which we should strive. We would do well to follow the way of Job who, regardless of the harm that came to him, said, "My lips will not speak falsehood, and my tongue will not utter deceit…till I die, I will not put away my integrity from me. I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go…" (Job 27:4-6). The only way we can bring integrity back into the world is by living it. Each interaction we have needs to be rooted in Truth - "not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart…" (Ephesians 6:6).
Faithfulness is the foundation of the life of Friends. We must strive to listen to the Spirit's voice in heart and mind and walk in the Light that guides our steps so that we may be able to echo the psalmist by our every deed: "Prove me, O God, and try me; test my heart and mind. For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in faithfulness to you" (Psalms 26:2-3). We might ask ourselves in any given moment:
- What is the motivation behind the decisions I make?
- How does the Truth prosper with me?
- How is my faithfulness bringing about the Kingdom of God?
Let us test our faithfulness each day with these queries and not be found wanting.