The Need for Trust & Integrity
Trust and integrity. Over and over again, I have seen in my life and in the lives of others that when trust goes down integrity tends to decline as well, but when trust holds strong integrity also holds firm.
That’s what we see in Abram in Genesis 12.
When God called Abram away from Ur and Haran, promising to make a great name for Abram, and promising to bless Abram and to make his name great, and promising to bless those who bless Abram and to curse the one who curses him, and promising to bless all the families of the earth through Abram, Abram traveled forth to Canaan building altars to the Lord along the way. But then a severe famine comes upon the land, and Abram’s trust in God begins to falter. Though God had promised Abram that he would give the land of Canaan to Abram’s offspring, Abram doubts that God can get him through the famine. God had led Abram to Canaan and promised the land there to him, but Abram decides to take himself down to Egypt instead. Upon arriving in Egypt, Abram doubts that God can protect him from Egyptians who may want his wife, so he says to her, “I know well that you are a woman beautiful in appearance; and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife;’ then they will kill me, but thy will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared on your account” (Genesis 12:11-13). This is where we see a tragic collapse in Abram’s integrity—passing his wife off as his sister, “so that it may go well with me because of you.”
Trust and integrity are both essential qualities in the life of a believer, but both qualities slip away from Abram.
In his book In Two Minds, Os Guinness points out that the Latin word for doubt, dubitare, comes from an Aryan root meaning “two.” Guinness writes, “To believe is to be ‘in one mind’ about accepting something as true; to disbelieve is to be ‘in one mind’ about rejecting it. To doubt is to waver between the two, to believe and doubt at once, and so to be ‘in two minds.’”
That’s what happened to Abram, and he did not do well when he was in two minds.
John C. Maxwell writes, “William H. Hinson tells us why animal trainers carry a stool when they go into a cage of lions. They have their whips, of course, and their pistols are at their sides. But invariably they also carry a stool. Hinson says it is the most important tool of the trainer. He holds the stool by the back and thrusts the legs toward the face of the wild animal. Those who know maintain that the animal tries to focus on all four legs at once. In the attempt to focus on all four, a kind of paralysis overwhelms the animal, and it becomes tame, weak, and disabled because its attention is fragmented.”
Sadly, that’s what becomes of Abram. Torn between trust and distrust, he becomes weak, and his integrity crumbles.
Frederick Buechner observes, “Doubts prove that we are in touch with reality, with the things that threaten faith as well as with things that nourish it. If we are not in touch with reality, then our faith is apt to be blind, fragile, and irrelevant.”
Life, by its very nature, provides plentiful opportunities for us to be put in touch with reality. How will we respond? In the midst of troubling circumstances, will our faith hold firm, and will our integrity hold strong? Or will our trust decline and our integrity deteriorate?