middot adaptability besorah honesty and trustworthiness

honesty and trustworthiness

Written by  rabbi benjamin ehrenfeld

art-thesquareThe connection between trustworthiness and honesty would appear to be fairly simple. An individual who has regularly demonstrated honesty is usually trustworthy. However, this is not universally the case as I have seen brutally honest people say nasty things to people they love.

I have seen people assume they can be excused for not following through on a promise by “fessing up” to their regular unreliability. In other words, the connection between honesty and trustworthiness is similar to the geometric laws concerning a square and rectangle. Just as every square is a rectangle, but not every rectangle is a square, every demonstration of trustworthiness is an honest act, but not every honest act demonstrates trustworthiness.

I myself have struggled with the fact that I sometimes keep about 80% of my promises in a given week. From my perspective, this is too high. If I were to avoid promising so much I wouldn’t have this problem! There is no reason whatsoever and all it does is build a confusing image of myself internally and externally. This is where I think a healthy relationship between honesty and trustworthiness is most evidently necessary in my life.

If I were to never commit to anything, I couldn’t possibly live a trustworthy life. Who wants a friend who will always “try to make it?” Who wants an employee who will always “try to squeeze it in?” Who wants a husband who will “maybe be faithful?” These are extreme examples but they are indicative of an honesty that is never allowing a person to reach towards a greater actualization of his or her God given potential. An honest person that is informed by the desire to build trustworthiness, that has trustworthiness in mind, will be both cautious in making promises but also extra diligent to keep the promises that are necessary to have healthy relationships. This involves both honesty with others as well as an inner honesty, honesty with oneself.

Whether we like it or not, our actions and words have a powerful impact on others. Honesty as an ideal is something that can fuel a trustworthy lifestyle. Yeshua taught us to have our “yes be yes, and no, no.” This meant two things: follow through on your decisions and avoid making vows that you’ll regret later because you were not able to come through. He was demonstrating the proper balance of honesty and trustworthiness that enables the two to enhance one another. So, in this season may we all find ourselves to be people both more honest and trustworthy in a world in desperate need for both.

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