“My word is my bond, ” when last did you hear this saying? The online slang dictionary says that it means “the person who says these words is telling the truth.” Quite something in a world where universal truths are questioned; where what is true for you may not be true for me; where current politicians decide what is truth; where companies avoid truth to get business and much of the legal profession twists the law to hide away the truth.
Can one believe the words of a person who says “My Word is my Bond” just because they said it? Don’t know about you, but I learnt the value of a “pinky promise” in kindergarten already! I was young enough to realise that just because people say they are telling the truth, I don’t have to believe them.
Now the dictionary describes integrity as having a reputation of trustworthiness that is built up over a period of time and is proven by our behaviour, both in public and private. Now if a person of integrity says to me: “My word is my bond,” I am more likely to believe them, based on reputation alone.
In fact this is what this phrase used to mean: that a person was such a person of integrity, that if they gave you their word, you could count on it. They are people who live by their “Yes” being yes, and their “No” being no. (James 5:12) Their integrity means that you know them to live by truth.
Jesus told his followers in Matt 5:33-37 to be such people of integrity that there is no need to back up their words or embellish them. There is no need to call upon a higher authority, holy name, holy place, mother’s grave or body part to prove the truth of their words because their behavior and words over a period of time have given them a reputation of being truthful. He says:
“Simply let your YES be yes and your NO be no. Anything more than this comes from the evil one”. Matt 5:37
So rather than wanting people to believe you because you are saying it is the truth, let people believe you because you have a reputation of speaking AND behaving truthfully. Then you don’t have to use what is precious to you, your child’s life or any loved one’s life for that matter, to verify the truth of your words.
People of integrity are people we like, people who by their lives demonstrate that their word is their bond. They do what they said they would do. Sometimes in their desire to serve or be of assistance, people of integrity may commit themselves to something they just cannot get done. People of integrity don’t just walk away, say sorry and leave it at that; or avoid your eye or your company. People of integrity humbly acknowledge their lack of judgement as soon as the problem arises and immediately try to renegotiate the contract or find a faithful substitute who will meet their obligation until the job is done. They remember based on their integrity: that the buck stops with them.
Jesus calls us to be people like this, people of integrity.
- People who pitch up at a certain time at a certain place because they said they would.
- People who do what they committed to do by a certain time because they said they would.
- People who work on their marriages because they said they would.
- People who take responsibility for their children because they embraced the name Parent.
- People who do for God what they said they would do.
- People who pray because they said they would.
If your conscience is bothered then good; it means that it is still alive and responsive to the voice of the Holy Spirit within you. You have not become numbed to His voice and desensitized to His touch. Jesus Christ is the epitome of all integrity. He never made a promise He did not keep. He never made an offer He could not and did not fulfill. We are to be the same by His instruction.
Here is a new word for you, sagacity: the characteristic of having solid judgement and making intelligent choices, the quality of evaluating information before making a decision. It comes from the original words for wisdom and sage. It means you don’t make promises you cannot keep.
A person of integrity practices sagacity in order to be sure that their word IS their bond.
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