America 2017: The Absence of Integrity?
Dr. James Spinnati
This Fourth of July I want you to examine America and its lack of integrity. Through all my life America held a standard called “integrity”. People stood on their word and their word was “gold”! And yet through the years we have seen this mind-set taking a hit. It started slowly but now is fever pitch. Not many years ago in Columbus Ohio a Metropolitan armored truck’s rear doors flew open as it sped along interstate 71. As a result over one million dollars flew out its rear doors onto the concrete highway flying here, there, and everywhere. It was reported later that day that over two hundred cars converged on the scene in a frantic rush to grab all they could of the money that was not theirs. Witnesses said that the frenzied crowd began scooping up money left and right without considering what was right even to the point of fisticuffs. Over a million dollars was lost that day. And yet there was one honest man named Melvin Kiser who grabbed a sack containing $57,000 in small bills. He could have kept it but instead he gave it back. This was a case of instant integrity. Honesty and integrity were more important to him than $57,000.
That very week a debate broke out over talk radio and a survey was taken where 90% of the people who called in called Melvin Kiser stupid, an idiot, and a loser. Those that were in the 90% said they would have kept the money and went on their merry way. Now here are the questions of the day, “What would you do? Who would know the difference?” This would be the time for you to invent excuses for you keeping the money. After all it wasn’t your fault the money flew out the back door of the armored truck; was it? And we all can agree that they had insurance on it anyway. And don’t forget that no one would know that you grabbed the money. It wasn’t going to hurt anyone; right?
But, what is the right thing to do? Why does it seem to give the impression that doing the right thing always seems so hard? Our world and our country have an integrity shortage. We have an epidemic of business executives who skim company funds, television evangelists who won’t reveal their financial records and bilk their followers. Congress is loaded with politicians who accept bribes and swindle their constituency. There are athletes who shave points, throw games, take steroids, throw fights and shoot cocaine. The lack of integrity is so widespread in America that it has even hit the small towns. Even Portsmouth Ohio has those who will rip off the elderly and not even blink an eye. Boy oh boy; America sure could use a fresh dose of integrity!
The dictionary defines integrity as “a firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values, or incorruptibility; incapable of being bribed or morally corrupted.” In the Bible, the Hebrew word translated “integrity” in the Old Testament means “the condition of being without blemish, completeness, perfection, sincerity, soundness, uprightness, wholeness.” Integrity in the New Testament means “honesty and adherence to a pattern of good works.” Now that we have seen the definition of integrity from the dictionary we need to ask ourselves, “What does the Bible say about honesty and integrity?” Come with me today as we “let our fingers do the walking through its pages”. Leviticus 19:36 says, “Use honest scales and honest weights.” Proverbs 12:17 tells us, “A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies.” Proverbs 16:13, says, “Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth.” Proverbs 24:26 tells us, “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.”
Integrity is not a suggestion by God our Father; it is a command. We are not only to walk in integrity but our conversation is to be brimming with honesty and veracity. In short, the Christian command to integrity is a command to both talk and walk in the way of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Christian life is to be a life that is marked by love, compassion, mercy, justice, and integrity. First Peter Chapter three verses ten through twelve tells us, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Integrity is considered the personification and application of character. It is the ultimate demonstration of who we are in Christ Jesus. It demonstrates that our faith is authentic. Integrity does not stand alone but is backed up by our attitude and word. If our life has developed an absence of Integrity this shortage will highlight the glaring reality that we as Christians are but mere fakes and frauds. Today let’s determine to deal honestly with our world and always tell the truth. And Christian; don’t forget to say what you mean and mean what you say.
America 2017: The Absence of Integrity?