Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Live the truth you know (or, have some integrity!)

There are some hard lessons in life.  Some of them are effectively (and sometimes only) learned when we find ourselves running up against and resisting those things which we already know to be true.  (St. Paul used the phrase "kicking against the goad" to describe a similar reality.  I've always taken it to mean, essentially, resisting the truth to one's own detriment.)

(Caravaggio's Conversion of St. Paul.  Paul was "kicking against the goads" - resisting the Lord - until the Lord pursuaded him otherwise...)

Here's an example: We all know we need enough sleep at night but how many times have we burned ourselves with staying up later than we already know we should?

Another example: Knowing we don't have enough money for something so we put it on a credit card.

A spiritual example: Not doing things God's way.  That's basically where all of our problems start.

But really, we often do know what God wants for us in most situations.  We're not dumb.  We've read 1 Corinthians 13 - we know what love should look like and we know we need to carry ourselves with true love wherever we go.  So why are we so surprised by the sufferings (albeit unnecessary if we just lived the truth like we know is best) which tend to come our ways when we resist and reject authentic love?

In other words, why do we sin?

I think oftentimes we sin because were trying to avoid suffering in some way by pursuing some good thing in an illicit way.  

Quick, obvious example: Sex before marriage.  Sex is good but, when such an expression of  the *total* gift of self (which implies a previously made, lifelong commitment aka marriage vows) is made where there hasn't *actually* been a total gift of self, well then you will have pain coming down the tubes. The act of sex speaks the language of "total gift of self" but if that total gift hasn't already been made then sex becomes a lie.

And lies never lead to joy or fulfillment. Our actions, good or bad, have real effects on our hearts.

In other words, we have to live with integrity or the integrity of our own consciences, our very souls, will be wounded - and sometimes deeply.

"Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth." (1 Corinthians 13:6)

Love can't do it any other way because love means living the truth.

Love means integrity.

-MM