An investment counselor went out on her own. She was shrewd and diligent, so business kept coming in. Pretty soon she realized she needed an in-house counsel, and so she began interviewing young lawyers.
“As I’m sure you can understand,” she started off with one of the first applicants, “in a business like this, our personal integrity must be beyond question.”
She leaned forward and continued, “Mr. Peterson, are you an honest lawyer?”
“Honest?” replied the job prospect. “Let me tell you something about honest.
Why, I’m so honest that my father lent me fifty thousand dollars for law school, and I paid back every penny the minute I tried my very first case.
“”Impressive. And what sort of case was that?”
The lawyer squirmed in his seat and stuttered, “Uh, He sued me for the money.”
Now, I don’t mean to belittle the legal profession, or denigrate anyone majoring in pre law. In our day all professions have had their challenges with the issue of integrity whether we’re talking steroid use in the sports world, misappropriation of funds in the political arena, or unethical practices in the business world. In fact, religion is not exempt, not even the Lord’s church.
The wise man wrote, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity” (Prov.11:3)
Every day we must face that same question: Am I an honest person? A person of integrity.
The word integrity carries the meaning of wholeness or soundness. It is something that maintains its condition without impairment. In terms of character integrity has to do with moral and ethical principles. Integrity involves honesty. Honor. Rectitude. Uprightness.
Some think integrity is determined by circumstances. That used to be called situation ethics. Others feel they are exempt from following the same rules as others because of who they are. They appeal to their credentials. In the minds of many culture determines right and wrong. And, of course, consensus of the majority is a common criterion for a large portion of our society. However, as William Penn once put it, “Right is right even if everyone is against it. And wrong is wrong even if everyone is for it.”
Since integrity has to do with Truth, it is safe to say that integrity is dictated by Christ. He said, “I am the Truth” (Jn 14:6). The word and the life of Jesus both tells us and shows what truth is. What it looks like. And how it acts and interacts with others.
We choose whether or not to be a person of integrity. It is a choice that we make in our business dealings. In our speech. In our relationships. And in our moral behavior.
Integrity is character driven. And it is not something that suddenly appears in a time of a great moral decision. Phillips Brooks, a 19th century preacher and writer maintained, “Character is made in the small moments of our lives. It isn’t created in a crisis; it only comes to light.” In others words, it is developed day by day in doing the “little things” right, so when the moment of decision comes, it is made with integrity.
The second part of the passage reminds us of the consequences of being dishonest. A lack of integrity, demonstrated in duplicity, is destructive. Cheryl Hughes expressed it this way. “When people cheat in any arena, they diminish themselves-they threaten their own self-esteem and their relationships with others by undermining the trust they have in their ability to succeed and in their ability to be true.”
Remember, as Jim Stovall put it, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even if nobody is watching.”
Ken, Weliever, The Preacherman