Every day we make decisions that affect our honesty and our integrity. Some of them may be big choices that could affect a lot of people. Others may seem less important: Do I stop at the red light at 2 o'clock in the morning when no one else is on the road? Do I go through the express check-out lane at the grocery store with more items than the lane allows?
While most of our daily decisions may not involve breaking laws that cause severe consequences, our character is defined at least as much by these little things as by the big ones. Day by day, they test our commitment to living honest and moral lives. Our response shows what kind of people we are and gives us opportunities to express our God-given honesty and integrity.
But can one little lie hurt so much? Well, how many lies does it take to make one a liar? Standing in the shoes of the person who has been lied to, just one will do it. That doesn't mean we can never recover a relationship that has been blemished by a lie, but why should we consciously undermine a relationship that we may have worked hard to build? And do we really want to expend all the energy it will take to keep the lie from being found out?
Honesty, on the other hand, doesn't need any false maintenance. It actually helps maintain us by keeping our thoughts clear and free of confusion. Moving through life with integrity is freeing because there is nothing to cover up, no guilt, and a clear guideline for how to respond in every situation. Instead of struggling with tangled webs of lies that may entrap us at any time, we can enjoy the freedom of amiable relationships filled with trust.
"Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy states: "Honesty is spiritual power. Dishonesty is human weakness, which forfeits divine help" (p. 453). And Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). How can we know the truth if we are not constantly truthful in motives and deeds? Is it always easy to be truthful? No, but a new mother found out that it gave her a very special feeling of security in raising her children.
As she was thinking about the relationship she wanted to build with them, she decided that she would never tell them a lie – not even a little one. As her daughters grew up, there were many times when this was extremely difficult. But she can honestly tell her daughters, when they doubt her, that she has never told them a lie and never will. Whatever disagreements they may have, they can be assured of her honesty and integrity toward them. And they know she expects the same in return.
Their collective commitment to integrity is a vital part of their relationship. Just as important, her daughters will have this example to turn to when they are out in the world making choices for themselves.
If honesty and integrity seem to have been sidelined, it may feel difficult to break the patterns of thought and behavior that say it's OK to lie. But divine Truth, another name for God, responds to all who pray to do what is right. We are all actually made in Truth's likeness as the sons and daughters of God, and this knowledge empowers our efforts to resist the temptation to lie.
Making morally clear life choices is actually an innate ability each of us has as Truth's much-loved image and likeness. The freedom that comes with right choices – both small and large – is worth the struggle, and is divinely supported by a universal power that is orderly, harmonious, and principled to the core.