As few as 50 years ago, we lived in a nation where a man’s word was considered his bond; a handshake sealed a transaction; people took pride in their honest and upright behavior, character, and reputation.
These three attributes were fundamental characteristics to my parent’s generation. They and other Genocide survivors, gave to their children by example their unspoken rule to live by: keep the family name clean; do not do anything that will bring shame or dishonor to yourself or to the family; some day you will pass it on to your children, a part of your legacy to them.
Albert Schweitzer once said, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing.”
Today secular influences of greed, corruption, and dishonesty carried out in order to achieve “success” at any cost have permeated into the normal flow of life and have replaced the desire of simply being honorable.
Secularism further teaches that man believes he is the measure of all things and he alone can solve all problems of humanity. To the secularist, morality is relative, and ethics are autonomous – there are no absolutes, and God or faith has no relevance in human affairs.
We are what we choose, and our behavior is a result of that choosing. We make an intellectual-emotional-spiritual decision to function in a way that for some brings the highest productivity to their lives, while for others, the opposite.
My take is that integrity has become an illusion that has been sent to the dump heaps of Sheol by those who see themselves as the standard-bearer by which all else is to be measured. Some sense they are the masters of the universe.
The key to integrity is to determine a sense of inner directedness that does not yield to the societal pressures of today – that identifies with the highest order rather than the lowest, the best rather than the worst, the ideal rather than the average, the excellent rather than the mediocre.
Integrity is a lifestyle characterized by the indwelling of God’s Word. It means having one’s act together and exemplifying the Christ-like life in every circumstance. The apostle John put it this way:
“But whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: he who says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:5-6)
What exactly is integrity worth to the character of the person? Let me put it this way: by ignoring the passion to live a life with integrity is as if one hangs a for-sale around one’s neck for all to see, offering self and soul to the highest bidder.
How important is it to live a life of integrity, always speaking the truth, to do what is honorable and not simply expedient? There is only one answer to evaluate that worth, the words of Jesus Christ:
“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.” (John 17:17–19)
The proof of our behavior is in the morality and integrity we demonstrate. It reaches for the deepest resources in Christ, stands up, and says: I’m taking charge of my behavior. I’m not going to bend to the temptations and frustrations of the world. I will be true in all things I do.
The questions still remain: Integrity – is it reality or illusion? Does it even exist today, anywhere?