Integrity stems from the word, integer, which is a mathematical term used to describe a whole number. Thus, the word integrity can be used to define one who is also whole, or undivided and uncompromising in their convictions. Said another way, a person with high integrity isn’t wishy washy – and although a person’s level of integrity may not always be immediately visible to others, there are three primary ways it can be measured over time:
Abuse: We don’t have to develop an elaborate Pozzi scheme in order to take advantage of others, for it can be accomplished in much more subtle ways (Zechariah 7:10). For example, during a recent visit to a busy ice cream shop at the beach, I was awarded $15 in change, when I was only due $6. It was an innocent error by the cashier that I failed to notice since I quickly shoved the dollars in my pocket in order to keep the line moving. However, after I left and went to place the dollars in my wallet, I noticed the mistake. I now faced the choice many of us have encountered before. Do I keep the change and justify it as being their fault, or do I inconveniently turn around and go all the back to return the money? Honestly, my mind shamed me by trying to find some rational excuse to keep moving; but thankfully, I quickly flushed those ideas and am happy to share that the money was returned, the cashier was extremely grateful and my kids learned a valuable lesson in never compromising their integrity – a reward no amount of money could ever replace!
Avoid: Another way integrity is manifested is in our areas of service to others. No other illustration captures this better than Jesus’ story of the good Samaritan. For as we know, many “good” people in the story justified their reasons for passing by the injured man and not disrupting their schedules. Likewise, how many times are we presented with opportunities to help others with our time, talents, or treasures, but instead seek valid reasons as to why we can’t, or shouldn’t (James 2:17)?
Assist: In the same story, integrity of course, was demonstrated by the Samaritan who did stop to help and even went so far as to make a monetary investment in the injured man’s well-being (Luke 10:33-35). Similarly, how many needs are there all around us, and how willing and available are we to be used by God for their benefit over our own – even when it’s not convenient, or comfortable?
Application: “Dare To Care” – Matthew 7:12
What if we were the cashier who gave too much change to a customer and faced potential consequences with their boss, or if we were the injured person in need of care, but no one stopped to help? Now consider if we experienced someone returning the money, or helping to bind our wounds. What would the impact be, especially if we discovered they were Christians? Would we be more open to the gospel, and more willing to receive the truth? May we therefore always seek and cherish those opportunities that come our way to live lives of integrity and distribute the blessings of the “golden rule”.