“But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes ‘ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil”
(Matthew 5:37, New American Standard Version).
This was our memory verse last week in my Bible study. It’s one that I had memorized before, and one that I hold in very high esteem. I think this concept, of saying what you mean, and committing to what you say, is foundational to integrity.
Integrity is foundational to friendship.
But in this day and age of “friendship” having been redefined by a simply click on Facebook, I see this as something sadly lacking in society. I mean, I see people toss around the word “friend” and I’m fairly certain it doesn’t mean what it used to, or what it should.
Are you really friends with the person you met one time and haven’t spoken to again since?
Are you really friends with the person from high school to whom you haven’t spoken in twenty years?
Are you really friends with the person you haven’t actually ever met, but you’ve “interacted” with them online in some forum, so you think it’s okay to expose your family, pictures, thoughts and status updates to them on a regular basis?
Are you really friends with someone if your “yes” isn’t really a “yes” and your “no” isn’t really a “no”?
Are you really friends with me if you lump me together with all of the people in the above categories?
Because that’s not at all how I define “friend.”
I might actually meet someone – and hang out with them a dozen times – and still not refer to them in any way as “my friend.” They would be “someone I know” or “someone from church.” I don’t flippantly use the word “friend.”
So when “friends” lump me into the same group – and treat me the same – as someone they met once, someone they haven’t actually spoken to in ages, someone the met online but never in real life, someone they’ve never had any meaningful connection with, I wonder what that really means.
It’s easy to not let your statements, your friendships, be meaningful and honest if there really isn’t anything of value to the relationship (like in the above categories). Who cares if you upset someone you’ve never really met, or someone you haven’t spoken to in twenty years, or someone you’ve met once who lives across the country?
But it shouldn’t be. Integrity is integrity. Yes is yes, and no is no. Right?
How easy it becomes to translate that broken thought process into “real” life.
My son asks me all. the. time. why I say “maybe” when he asks to do things. I tell him it’s because I don’t want to say “yes” or “no” because I can’t be honest with him at that particular moment. If I don’t have all of the facts in front of me, or our calendar, or my husband’s input, I cannot always know the answer. So I say, “maybe.”
It’s because he has, and will have, enough people in his life who will not hold to a standard of integrity and will hurt and disappoint him. He certainly doesn’t need his mother to do that to him.
How often do you say “yes” without really thinking, and then hurt someone when you have to back out? How carelessly do you treat them after? Do you sincerely apologize, or do you just assume they’ll get over it – that you did nothing wrong or hurtful? Is this a pattern in your life?
(if it is, trust me, you’re hurting people – deeply)
Bible study was convicting.