In order to maintain our integrity -- our complete,
undivided, incorruptible, moral character -- we have
to understand and maintain our solid connection with
God. Of course, God is always maintaining His connection
to His perfect creation -- us.
Why is integrity so important? Here are some practical
- A silversmith puts the silver he needs to craft
his jewelry, platters, etc., right into the heart
of the fire and keeps it there, despite the effect
on him. The fire melts out all the impurities. If
there are impurities in the silver, then the silver
will not be strong. Whatever he makes will not last
if there are any impurities.
- If a house has termite damage in the wood, the
wood has to be replaced. If it is not, the house
will lose its strength and fall down. It's very
- If a tile on the space shuttle lacks integrity
-- if there is a defect in a single tile -- the
space shuttle will not be able to re-enter the earth
successfully. We've seen the effect of corrupted
tiles: the space shuttle has blown up, and people
have lost their lives.
How much more valuable are we than silver, a house,
or a space shuttle without people in it? Shouldn't
we treat ourselves as important as all that? Preserving
our integrity allows us to be strong when faced with
challenges, to be moral when tempted with immorality,
to be honest when faced with duplicity. Integrity
is essential to our success in life. And protecting
our integrity is critical to loving ourselves, weathering
physical and emotional storms, healing ourselves and
others, and affecting the world in a real and positive
way as Jesus told us to do.
A person's moral character matters -- no matter what
the media or others may try to tell us.
- It matters if we keep our word. When we tell someone
we'll do something, we need to do it; otherwise,
we are not dependable or trustworthy.
- It matters if we are moral. If we do drugs, drink,
or have sex with someone to whom we are not married,
we are compromising the integrity of our body. With
drugs, we are putting foreign substances into our
bodies that impair our ability to reason and to
have control. With sex, we are opening ourselves
up to parenthood and unfortunately, disease. We
are undermining the family structure and the marriage
covenant. These statements may be tough to hear,
but they're true. Both subjects warrant their own
articles. We've already had an article on "Sexual
- It matters if we are honest and ethical. It might
seem tempting to take the easy way out -- to lie
a few times if it seems harder to tell the truth.
But then, we have to keep remembering what lie we've
told. Eventually we'll get caught in our own lies.
By definition, lies are not true. Yet, the search
of all the greatest thinkers is, "What is truth?"
We may be tempted to think that a little fudging
on the taxes, a little insider trading, a little
cheating on a chemistry test, a little plagiarism
on an English paper
In all of these different areas, the unfulfilled
promises, illicit sex and drugs, and lies may not
initially catch up with us. We may not get caught
or have immediate ill consequences, and so we may
start believing that we can get ahead in life by compromising
our integrity. But this is a false assumption. When
we compromise our integrity, we are really cheating
ourselves and destroying our own strength. We are
not founding our lives upon principles that will last
and support us throughout our lives. In other words,
our lack of integrity WILL catch up with us here or
hereafter. Evil-doing truly does not pay. History
has proven this true.
Taking short cuts can often do us irreparable damage.
Consider, for instance, a baby chick. It takes a chick
an amazing amount of time and energy to peck open
its shell. If we open the shell for it, thinking that
we will help it, we will actually hurt the chick.
The chick will not have enough strength to live and
so will die. Each and every peck is essential for
that chick to gain the necessary strength, persistence,
and skills for it to survive. If we skip over the
hard challenges by avoiding them or cheating our way
through them, we are ultimately weakening ourselves,
depriving ourselves of valuable learning experiences
that will equip us to handle whatever comes our way.
We are, in a sense, paving the way for our own and
But failure is not inevitable. We are not bound to
cheat or compromise our integrity -- even if the peer
pressure to do so is enormous, even if the expectations
for material, economic, or business success seem impossible
to achieve without cheating. The only thing that is
truly inevitable is our discovery that we, as the
children of God, are complete and at one with God.
Because of this, we have everything we need to meet
every challenge. This is a huge discovery!
But, we need to learn and listen to what those wiser
than we are have told us. Jesus teaches us valuable
lessons. He explains: "Wherefore by their fruits
ye shall know them" (Matt. 7:20). He doesn't
say, "by their 'words.'" What really
matters in life, what really shows the character of
an individual, is not what he says but what he does
day in and day out. In times of temptation, people
discover how important integrity is to them. Jesus
knew of what he spoke. He was faced with tremendous
pressures throughout his life. He refused to compromise
his integrity, even when the devil, tempting him three
times, offered him the world. Knowing his strength
and freedom came from his undivided connection with
God, Jesus was able to affirm, "Get thee hence,
Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord
thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (Matt.
We don't want to dabble with evil or waffle in our
response to temptation. Jesus told us that "a
house be divided against itself . . . cannot stand"
(Mark 3:25). If we waver in our decisions on how to
deal with evil, terror, lying, cheating, etc., then
we are susceptible to attack from evil and can be
easily destroyed. Predators, such as lions or sharks,
don't pick out the strong prey. They pick out the
young, wounded, or weak. This is interesting in light
of what has recently happened in Russia. The terrorists
chose a school to use as their platform for terrorism;
they chose the young and the weak to victimize. Evil
will try to hit us where we're weakest -- morally
and physically. If we do not maintain our integrity,
if we do not fight off impurities, if we do not stand
up to evil, then evil will find a way into our lives.
But Jesus said of evil, or the devil, "he is
a liar, and the father of it" (John 8:44). A
lie does not have power over us once we know that
it's a lie. A lie is defeated by the truth. Truth
Our real integrity is founded in the truth that we
are at one with God. Jesus affirmed, "I and my
Father are one" (John 10:30). Jesus's teachings
continually affirm our unity with God, our integrity
as a child of God, our innate goodness and Godlikeness,
and the freedom that God has bestowed upon us. Our
God-given integrity blesses us. The fact that we are
principled, moral, upright, and whole makes us free
from worry, guilt, confusion, duplicity. Of course,
we may still have inner battles; temptations may still
arise making us think that we're better off if we
cheat. It's tempting to think that we're not good
enough, that we don't have everything we need, or
that we're deficient or lacking in some area, especially
if we don't perform up to expectations of our parents,
friends, bosses, or teachers. But if we start from
a position of lack, we'll end with a position of lack.
Our foundation determines the strength of our house;
so our foundation of thought determines the strength,
metal, character of our individuality, our being.
We need to start from the standpoint of completeness
and reason from there. And if we have not always stood
up to temptation successfully, we have to realize
that this does not mean that we have lost our integrity.
It's still there. A "1" is a "1"
is a "1" -- no matter how much we try to
erase or change it. We are God's children no matter
how much evil will try to tell us otherwise. Our nature
will always be whole and complete. Let's delight in
the freedom of our God-given integrity!