08 Nov Integrity Yields
Consider this scenario. In the Belgian city of Antwerp, a man pulls his long black coat more tightly around him to keep out the cold chill of the winter wind that blasts off the cobblestoned streets like waves crashing against the rocks. As the wind gusts, he quickly grabs his black hat to steady it on his head and ducks into the doorway of a large building. Entering a long highceilinged room, he loosens his coat to free his long graying beard as he walks swiftly past the two dozen or so fraying wooden tables that line the high-windowed wall. He greets another man dressed in a white shirt and black vest and quickly takes a seat across from him.
Small conversations ensue: how is the wife? The children? And then they begin an animated discussion conducted in a mixture of Yiddish and English. Soon one of the men takes a little black pouch from his pocket from which he removes a small paper envelope. He opens the envelope very carefully and from it he takes out diamonds, one of the world’s most valuable commodities. The other man takes out a loupe that is always present in his pocket, squints through it and examines the diamonds that are in front of him. Then they talk to each other about a price, they shake hands and the traditional final words of a deal between diamond traders, mazel und brucha, luck and blessing. With the stones in his pocket and the instruction given, which was a paper with the address of a person who would buy it, a $240,000 deal is transacted. Just on a handshake! One would think that this is a scenario from bygone days. But it actually does happen today in the diamond trade – one of the richest economic markets known to man. Integrity—being a man or woman of your word—is still a valuable asset in this $72 billion industry.
But what is integrity? Integrity really means a sense of wholeness. It comes from the Latin word integer, which means whole or full. The dictionary defines it thus: “adherence to moral and ethicalprinciples; soundness of moral character; honesty.”
It, therefore, encompasses two dimensions— the internal and the external. The internal, being the values and ethical principles that are sacred, absolute and uncompromising; while the external, being the behaviour that ensues forth from these beliefs that then form a seamless union of values and behaviours, making for the whole image of wholeness and completeness.
In fact, it’s the exact opposite of the word hypocrisy. Hypocrisy–being something that one is not, or acting in a manner inconsistent with one’s beliefs, or the wearing of different masks to suit different situations. Jesus modeled integrity. We read in Mark’s Gospel. “The people came to him and said ‘Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You’re not swayed by men because you pay no attention to who they are, but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.’” Isn’t that what sways us, sometimes?
We live our lives according to other people and what they would think of us. But really, to be a person of integrity is to choose between right and wrong and to stay with what is right, regardless of the consequences, which is difficult of course, because the world doesn’t play by those rules. However, as men and women who bear the Name of Christ, we must adhere to the rules He sets for us and live by the standards found in His Word. Are there standards? Does the Bible talk about integrity? Yes, it does, and along with the call to integrity, promises us varied blessings that enrich the lives of His followers. Consider the following Scriptures:
• As for you, if you walk before me in integrity of heart and righteousness as your father did and do all I command and observe all my desires and laws, I will establish your royal throne over Israel as I promised your father (1 Kings 9:3-5).
The blessing? He establishes our authority to lead and be in leadership.
• The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity (Pro. 11:3).
The blessing? He provides guidance.
• Righteousness guards the man of integrity but wickedness overthrows the sinner (Proverbs 13:6).
The blessing? He guards us.
• The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out (Proverbs 10:9).
The blessing? He keeps us secure.
Who wouldn’t want these blessings, isn’t it? Who of us would not want to lead with godly authority or be guided by the Almighty, or guarded or made to feel secure? All of us. But, the route to those blessings is through a life of integrity. Difficult? Yes, without a doubt. But doable? Certainly, though may be with a price. But that’s par for the course of being a disciple of Jesus, is it not? Jesus never said it would be easy. In fact, at one point He told a scribe to consider carefully his desire to follow Him (Matt. 8:19-20). We have chosen to follow Him, to emulate Him, to showcase Him and share Him with people all around us, and one way to do that is to walk as men and women of integrity in the midst of a perverse and crooked generation. That is the only way we can be salt and light, and the only way that men will see our good works and glorify our Father who is in Heaven.
A postscript: It is difficult to walk as men and women of integrity in today’s world, but here’s the golden nugget – we walk under the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit! He will lead, He will guide, and He will sustain us on the journey – that’s His promise. Therefore, “let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Gal.6:9).
About the Author
Rev. Dr Cecil Clements is the founding Pastor of The Church at Powai in Mumbai and a speaker on Corporate CAPsules, a weekly audio bridge directed at Corporate Professionals. His wife Sheila is a Clinical Psychologist and they have three children.