No one would ever know.
Sometimes the simplest lies are also the most effective.
Surely you’ve heard that whisper before in a moment of potential compromise. You know it’s wrong to count that deduction. You know it would be easier to take credit for more than your part in that assignment at work. You know it would propel you forward if you threw that person under the bus. And any of those choices would be easy to rationalize:
It’s just a little thing.
I’ve earned this.
When will it be my time?
And then, of course, maybe the most powerful of whispers: No one would ever know.
The thing with all these statements is that they’re not completely invalid. We very well might have earned the credit we have been passed over for. And in the grand scheme of the universe, this small choice is really not that big. And many of us have been waiting for a long, long time for things to go rightly for us. It’s whispers like these that make us compromise our integrity.
What can help us fight in these moments? What can fuel our resolve to maintain our integrity when with just a small compromise we could move ourselves forward so greatly?
It’s confidence in God’s providence. Here’s a biblical case study to help us see how.
Genesis 27 contains the record of a massive breach of integrity. Jacob, spurred on his mother, deceived his father to steal his older brother’s blessing. Esau, as the older child, was in line to have the covenant blessing given to Abraham passed onto him. But Jacob was crafty.
He deceived his father’s taste, touch, and smell in order to get what he wanted. And he was successful:
Ah, the smell of my son
is like the smell of a field
that the Lord has blessed.
May God give to you—
from the dew of the sky
and from the richness of the land—
an abundance of grain and new wine.
May peoples serve you
and nations bow in worship to you.
Be master over your relatives;
may your mother’s sons bow in worship to you.
Those who curse you will be cursed,
and those who bless you will be blessed (Gen. 27:27-29).
The blessing was stolen. But this was also the way the Lord planned it. As these brothers were still in the womb, the Lord said it would go this way:
Two nations are in your womb;
two peoples will come from you and be separated.
One people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger (Gen. 25:23).
Perhaps Jacob had these words in his head during his deception. Maybe he was even thinking that doing this would only speed along God’s plan and purpose for his life. But what we have here is not an example of a man working to make sure that God’s will was carried out; what we have here is a man who had so little faith in God’s ability to keep His promises that he felt he had to take matters into his own hands.
God’s providence ought to have the opposite effect.
If we truly believe in a God who not only makes promises but keeps His Word, then we should be resolved to operate with integrity in any situation no matter how much it might seem to cost us. We ought to be able to deny temporary gain, shortcuts to the top, and personal advancement if it means compromising our integrity.
Why? Because we trust that God will bring His work in us, and through us, to completion.