"What is truth?" ~Pontius Pilate
Pilate is not the only human to ask this question. Literally, since the Beginning, mankind has been searching for the answer. Otherwise, Eve would have never believed the Serpent in the Garden. This question has been chiseled into our soul by design; and we are meant to search for the answer.
It is understandable that Pilate would ask, “What is truth?” as a sort of rhetorical question during the trial of Jesus. In his world, much like our world today, truth had become a sort of subjective concept about which scholars and religious leaders would pontificate at length. When things become subjective, everyone is an expert; and if everyone is an expert, then no one is…even if (in the case of Pilate) the literal TRUTH in human form was standing directly before his eyes!
By the time Paul writes 1 Corinthians 13, he says that “love” not only recognizes truth, but also “rejoices in the truth”. In this particular passage to the Believers in Corinth, Paul references the specific meaning of truth know as integrity. He literally writes: “Love rejoices in integrity”.
As Believers, they did not need instructions on how to recognize Jesus as Truth (unlike Pilate, who did not have the spiritual eyes to recognize Jesus as the Truth). But because they were Believers, they now needed to understand how being people of love means that we find joy in applying the truth of Jesus through and through - to every part of our being.
This is the practice of integrity.
Paul offers us all a sort of litmus test for truth - rejoicing in integrity: the condition of engaging in the work of being wholly, morally upright and without inner dividedness. Believers are not called into divided living, or to a life of fake morality. We are called to applying the truth to every part of our lives, so that our whole life can be free from hinderances and falsity. Paul knew that the Truth of Jesus is best presented by people who are known by their integrity.
For most of us, we are able to see when someone is being untrustworthy or acting without integrity towards us. No one wants to be lied to. No one wants to be friends with someone who is two-faced or divided in their affections and opinions. No one wants to question whether they can trust something or someone. Without being able to trust the condition of someone’s character, there is always a shadow of a doubt lingering in our mind…and that breeds uncertainty that grows into fear. Fear is the opposite of love. We know this, and desire relationships based on being able to trust others, but we rarely take the time to assess whether we ourselves are living as people who are worthy of being trusted in.
Relationships require an ability to trust one another. Integrity is both the gauge by which we measure the degree to which we are willing to risk our trust, and also the goal to which we should strive to reach.
Louie Giglio once said, “Besides your relationship with God, the relationship you have with yourself is the most important.” So, for those of us that desire to be in deep, meaningful relationships, it is worthwhile to occasionally ask ourselves hard questions: Who am I – through and through? Are all the pieces of who I am capable of being integrated together into a congruent whole? Is my public life an overflow of my private life? Or is my public life a shield to protect myself from having to do the inner work in my private life? Am I hiding, and why? Am I being the kind of person I would be willing to place my trust in? What is truth?
These are hard questions to ask ourselves – and even harder to answer truthfully. It takes time, transparency, and courage to face the truth of who we really are. But, for those who would want to grow in love, we have to find a way to grab hold of integrity. Paul says that if we would want to be people known for love, we would rejoice in integrity. We would desire it, and be willing to work for it, knowing that it produces that which is pleasing to the Lord for our lives.
From engaging in our own process, we are able to celebrate the integrity we see in others as well. We recognize the integrity in our friends, and we remind them of the truth of who they are, and who they want to be. We will become a people who invite our friends to search themselves and we will encourage them to do the inner work to become more aligned within themselves. We will be safe for them to face their own unequal pieces of themselves because we know the courage it takes to face our own. We will be able to name our values and be brave in living with the moral convictions we know to be worthy. We will stand stronger, more convinced of why we believe what we know to be true. We will honor and support someone else’s efforts at calibrating their own moral convictions, and cheer on their own task in working out their own integrities so that they become a more truthful, integrated reflection of God’s grace to them.
We become more willing, more capable, and more trustworthy as ambassadors of God’s redemptive process in this world. And we rejoice to see the work being done in our lives and in others’ lives, because we know that all of this work is the evidence of God’s love moving and working and driving out fear – from our own hearts and in the hearts of others. We rejoice together as we see the love of God flourishing in this world – one relationship at a time.
ARTWORK BY: Lauren Garner of Willow & Stone Designs.
To see more of her beautifully creative artwork, check her out on Instagram @willowandstonedesigns .