Integrity

If you live close to God, in His infinite grace,
You don’t have to tell it, it shows in your face.

Anon.

The English word “sincere” comes from the Latin “sincerus”, which is derived from the words sine and cereus; meaning “without” and “wax”.

I’ve read that when working with wood, many carpenters of long ago would use wax to hide their mistakes or imperfections in the wood. Eventually, when an item of furniture or a carving was finished, it would be stained or polished and the wax would then become indistinguishable. Later on, however, after a little usage and being subject to the elements, the wax would melt or crumble away and the ‘cover-up’ would become apparent.

The more professional wood workers of the day, however, chose only the finest wood and they worked with extreme care so as not to cause any damage. Of course, this was far more costly in terms of both time and money and so when they went to market place to compete and sell their wares, they would put up a sign that said, “sincerus”.

This is really the key to true success: In all your dealings be a person of integrity, and whatever you promise or say or do, be sincere and do it ‘without wax’!

Analogy adapted from a narrative by Zig Ziglar

Nicky Gumbel related how a young police officer was taking his final exam at Hendon Police College in north London. Here is one of the questions:

‘You are on a patrol in outer London when an explosion occurs in a gas main in a nearby street. On investigation you find that a large hole has been blown in the footpath and there is an overturned van lying nearby. Inside the van there is a strong smell of alcohol. Both occupants – a man and a woman – are injured. You recognise the woman as the wife of your Divisional Inspector, who is at present away in the USA. A passing motorist stops to offer you assistance and you realise that he is a man who is wanted for armed robbery. Suddenly a man runs out of a nearby house, shouting that his wife is expecting a baby and that the shock of the explosion has made the birth imminent. Another man is crying for help, having been blown into an adjacent canal by the explosion, and he cannot swim. – Bearing in mind the provisions of the Mental Health Act, describe in a few words what actions you would take. The officer thought for a moment, picked up his pen, and wrote: ‘I would take off my uniform and mingle with the crowd!’

We can sympathise with his answer, can’t we? As a Christian, it is often easier to take off our Christian uniform and mingle with the crowd. But we are called to be and remain distinctive, to retain our Christian identity, wherever we are and whatever the circumstances.

Nicky Gumbel, Alpha Questions of Life, 2007, Eastbourne: Kingsway Communications, p.220-221

It is said that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), the British physician and author (creator of Sherlock Holmes), once played a practical joke on a dozen friends; all of them well-known public figures. He sent each of the men an anonymous telegram that simply said, “Flee at once. All is discovered.” – It’s reported that 24 hours later every one of them had left the country.

A man took his son to the movies, and the son ran up to the popcorn counter and asked for the big bucket! The dad said, “Son, you’ll never eat all that!” The boy answered, “Don’t worry, Dad, I’m a lot bigger on the inside than on the outside.” – That’s what integrity and character is all about: being bigger on the inside.

Adapted from John Maxwell, 1999, The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, p.7

Abraham Lincoln was once involved in a heated discourse with some people whose argument was based purely on assumption, instead of fact. Lincoln asked them this question:

“If a man called the tail of a sheep a leg, how many legs would the sheep then have?”

“Five” was the unanimous reply.

“Wrong!” said Lincoln, “It would still have four. Calling a tail a leg does not make it one!”

A life of integrity is one that is not divided into compartments: James Cameron, producer of the movie Titanic, says, ‘The Titanic is a metaphor of life. We are all on the Titanic.’ When the Titanic set sail in 1912 it was declared to be ‘unsinkable’ because it was constructed using a new technology. The ship’s hull was divided into sixteen watertight compartments. Up to four of these compartments could be damaged or even flooded, and still the ship would float. Tragically, the Titanic sank on 15 April 1912 at 2.20am. 1,513 people lost their lives. At the time it was thought that five of its watertight compartments had been ruptured in a collision with an iceberg. However, on 1 September 1985, when the wreck of the Titanic was found lying upright on the ocean floor, there was no sign of the long gash previously thought to have been ripped in the ship’s hull. Now scientists posit that the collision’s impact buckled or loosened the seams in the adjacent hull plate’s core, causing them to separate and allowing water to flood in – thus sinking the unsinkable ship. What they discovered was that damage to one compartment affected all the rest.

Many people make the Titanic mistake. They think they can divide their lives into different ‘compartments’ and that what they do in one will not affect the rest. However, as Rick Warren (from whom I have taken this illustration) says, ‘A life of integrity is one that is not divided into compartments.’

INVITE/INVITATION

Source: Quoted by Nicky Gumbel, Bible in One Year, Day 104

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.

Proverbs 10:9 NIV

“In a broken world, sometimes a lie is justifiable but every lie, even the justifiable one, is a sad reminder of our brokenness.”

Allen Verhey (Professor of religion at Hope College, Holland, Michigan)

Once discovered, any exaggeration of the truth or withholding of the truth destroys your future credibility.

There’s a story told of a young builder who had to learn the lesson of integrity the hard way. He married a building contractor’s daughter and the father-in-law wanted to give a boost to his new son-in-law. “Son,” he said, “I don’t want you to start at the bottom where I did. So I want you to go out and build the most tremendous house this town has ever seen, put the best of everything in it, make it a palace, and turn it over to me.”

Well this was an opportunity to make a killing. He hurried out to slap together a building that would survive two fairly stiff gales. In short order he was back to dear old dad. “Well, Dad, it’s finished.”

“Is it tremendous, is it a palace like I asked?”

“Yes-siree, Dad.”

“Is it really the finest house ever built, son?”

“Yes-siree, Dad.”

“All right, where is the bill? Is there a good profit in it for you?”

“Yes-siree, Dad.”

“Very good. Here is your cheque, and where is the deed?”

As he looked at the deed, the father said, “I didn’t tell you why I wanted that house to be the best house ever built. I wanted to do something special for you and my daughter to show you how much I love you… here take the deed, go live in the house – you built it for yourself!”

The young gold-digger crept out a shattered, frustrated man. He thought he was making a fortune at his father’s expense by saving money of inferior materials and short-cuts, but he cheated only himself.

Charlie Jones

Source: Charlie Jones, 1968, Life Is Tremendous, Wheaton Illinois: Living Books, Tyndale House Publishers, p39-40

There’s no such thing as a little white lie. Lies are not colour-coded in the Bible. In God’s sight, there is no such thing as a white, grey or black lie. A lie is a lie. If you’re not telling the truth, that’s being dishonest. Sooner or later, it will catch up with you.

Joel Osteen

Joel Osteen, Your Best Life Now, 2008, London: Hodder and Stoughton p.384

Integrity always begins with ‘I’ and your most important personal asset is your own character.

I read about an experiment conducted on some teenage children to study the effects of peer pressure. The experiment was set up to see whether or not the young person would run with the crowd, even when they knew it was wrong to do so, or whether they would dare to be different and make a stand for what was right. This is what happened:

Some examiners staged an exercise in a school with a group of ten teenagers to, supposedly, test their eyesight. The examiners told the whole group that they would hold up some cards with three lines on them: lines A, B and C and each line would be of different length. All the students had to do was to raise their hand when the examiner pointed to the longest line. However, beforehand and behind closed doors, the examiners had secretly instructed nine of the students to deliberately give the wrong answer so that they could observe what the tenth would do. They were told to raise their hand and to always vote for the second longest line. (The tenth student had no idea that the other nine were colluding against him.)

When the first card was help up, it was apparent that line C was longer than the others but when the examiners pointed to line A (the second largest line) nine hands immediately shot in the air. The tenth teenager hesitated for a moment, glanced at his classmates and then also raised his hand. The examiners tried again with another card and as before nine hands were immediately raised supporting the wrong answer. Again the tenth student hesitated slightly but followed suit and also raised his hand. This happened time and time again with the same result each time.

Afterwards, the examiners revealed to the lad in question what had happened and they asked him why he had deliberately answered incorrectly. The young man replied that on the first occasion he assumed that he had misheard the question and so he followed the example set by his classmates. The second time around, he said that he realised the others had answered incorrectly but he didn’t want to attract attention to himself and so, even though he knew it was the wrong answer, he went along with them. Eventually he admitted to the examiners that he had continued along this path because he considered it more important to go along with the others and “fit in” rather than stand-alone and be right! The depressing thing is that he was not alone. In fact, nearly 80 per cent of the teenagers tested behaved in a similar fashion.

Integrity: Coca-Cola is a product that was invented over 100 years ago, but to this day only seven people in the world have ever known the secret “Coke” formula. The actual formula itself is kept under tight security in a safe in Atlanta, Georgia. It is a tightly kept secret that is worth a fortune!

The best kind of sermon is preached by the way you live your life, not the way you move your lips.

Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than one perverse in his ways, though he be rich.

Proverbs 28:6 NIV

‘The Face in the Glass’

When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you a king for a day,
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what THAT face has to say.

For it isn’t your father or mother or spouse
Whose judgment upon you must pass,
The person whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.

Some people might think you’re a straight shooting chum
And call you a great gal or guy,
But the face in the glass says you’re only a bum
If you can’t look it straight in the eye.

That’s the one you must please, never mind the rest,
That’s the one with you clear to the end.
And you know you have passed your most dangerous test
If the face in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on your back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the face in the glass.

by Dale Wimbrow

Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.

Psalm 34:12-13 NIV

“Cowardice asks the question; ‘Is it safe?’ Consensus asks the question; ‘Is it popular?’ But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’”

Martin Luther King (1929-1968), US Baptist minister and civil-rights leader.

The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.

Proverbs 12:22 NIV

“Years of teaching a child to be honest and truthful may be nullified in an instant by a parent’s lying to a ticket-seller about the child’s age to save half-fare. That can be an exceedingly expensive ticket for both the child and the parent.”

William George Jordan (1864-1928), writer

Private peccadillo’s always have corporate consequences, eventually.

‘The Motto’

You may bring to your office and put in a frame,
A motto as fine as its print;
But if you’re dishonest while playing the game,
That motto won’t make you a saint.
Put up lots of placards and cover your wall,
But here is a word I announce:
It isn’t the motto that hangs on your wall;
It’s the motto you live that counts.
If the motto says, “Smile” and you carry a frown,
“Do it Now” and you linger and wait;
If the motto says, “Help” and you trample men down,
If the motto says “Love” and you hate,
You’ll stand before God and be judged for your deeds,
You’ll know as the evidence mounts,
It wasn’t the motto you hung on the wall,
But the motto you lived that counts! (Anon)

Jesus said, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’, and your ‘No’ be ‘No’.

Matthew 5:37 NIV1984

Don’t just say it, do it. Put your money where your mouth is!

John Maxwell writes: “Someone told me about a newly elected judge who had won office in a special county election in America. During his acceptance speech, he said, “I wish to thank the 424 people who promised to vote for me. I wish to thank the 316 people who said they did vote for me. I wish to thank the 47 people who came out last Thursday to vote, and I wish to thanks the 26 folks who actually did vote for me.” How are you doing when it comes to following through on your commitments?”

Source: John Maxwell, 1999, The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, p.19-20

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

Abraham Lincoln.

You can’t trust anything your read in the newspapers these days… except the date!

Honesty in little things is no little thing.

An honest man does not make himself a dog for the sake of a bone. (Danish proverb)

Some people say everyone has a price but people with integrity, real integrity, cannot be bought at any price.

A promise is a word that goes forth into unfilled time. It reaches ahead of its speaker and its recipient, to mark the appointment between them in the future.

Source: The New Bible Dictionary

The man who does not stand for something will fall for anything.

Our deeds must be consistent with our creeds.

Rick Warren

“The difference between a hero and a coward is one step sideways.”

Gene Hackman

A life in which ‘anything goes’ is really a life in which nothing goes.

You cannot make a good deal with a bad guy.

“The best way to stay on the sunny-side of life is walk away from shady deals.”

Sophocles (496?-406 B.C.), Greek dramatist and author

Differing weights and differing measures – the LORD detests them both.

Proverbs 20:10 NIV

Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, But afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel.

Proverbs 20:17 NIV

When Martin Luther (1483-1546), the protestant reformer, was asked at Worms to recant all his writings, he responded with these words: “Unless you prove to me by Scripture and plain reason that I am wrong, I cannot recant. My conscience is captive to the word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand. There is nothing else I can do. God help me. Amen.”

If you go to a supermarket and look at the cereal packets or soft drinks or, for that matter, any of the supermarket’s own-brand products, you’ll see that the packaging design and the labels are often made to look very much like the regular manufacturers or the leading brand. Often the labelling is so deceptive that it’s only when you get up close can you tell which is which. The supermarket’s own-brand products are always cheaper and usually the quality of the product is reflected in the cheaper price! At the point of sale, however, what counts, for the discerning buyer at least, is not the price, or the labels, which can be misleading, but the contents; what’s inside.

Tom Wright

“The most important persuasion tool you have in your entire arsenal is integrity.”

Zig Ziglar

“God grant that men of principle will be our principle men.”

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), 3rd President of United States

It’s easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.

“It’s easy to tell a lie but hard to tell only one.”

Sissela Bok

Sissela Bok, Lying, 1978, New York: Pantheon, p.28

A little boy in Sunday school was asked what a lie was: “It is an abomination to God” he replied, “and an ever-present help in times of trouble!”

Some people are like the distorted images you find in fairground mirrors. They give you lots of false impressions and so it’s best not to trust any of them!

“Men stumble over the truth from time to time but most pick themselves up as if nothing had happened.” – Sir Winston Churchill

There is no right way to do a wrong thing!

“This above all: to thine own self be true.”

William Shakespeare (1564-1616), English dramatist and poet.

An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.

Proverbs 24:26

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so. Do not say to your neighbour, “Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,” When you have it with you.

Proverbs 3:27-28 NIVUK

“Live your life in such a way that you wouldn’t be ashamed if someone found your diary.”

Anon.