We think of integrity as being honest and truthful. It is that, but it is more. The definition of integrity in the American Dictionary of the English Language (1828) by Noah Webster includes the idea of wholeness, entireness, and being complete. It refers to the entire, unimpaired state of anything, particularly of the mind, moral soundness, and purity. Integrity means pure, genuine, unadulterated. Righteous integrity is all about being real and living up to a high moral standard. Integrity is genuine and based on moral absolutes. It is the gold standard of character and the essence of the Ten Commandments. Integrity reflects the character of God Himself. Do you think integrity matters? It absolutely matters to God and other people.
Proverbs says, “The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.” (Proverbs 11:3) In other words, we must know what the gold standard is and use it to guide our decisions and choices. Lack of integrity is crookedness and it will destroy us from the inside out.
I recently read about Abel Mutai, a Kenyan runner who competed in a strenuous international cross-country race. He was in the lead and just yards from victory when he became confused about the course’s signage and mistakenly thought he had crossed the finish line. He stopped running prematurely. The second-place runner from Spain, Ivan Fernandez Anaya, saw the mistake and rather than take advantage of Mutai’s confusion and run past him to win, he caught up to him, put out his arm, and directed him to a gold-medal win. When reporters asked Anaya why he purposely lost the race, he insisted that Mutai deserved the win. He said, “What would be the merit of my victory? What would be the honor of that medal? What would my mom think of that?” (“Our Daily Bread,” March 26, 2022, by Winn Collier) This is an outstanding example of integrity as well as really good parenting.
Whenever I observe underserved victory by way of cheating, my heart is grieved. God’s heart is grieved – not just for the rightful winner, but also for the cheater. Where is the satisfaction and joy of winning? There is none. There can be no legitimate joy with a dishonest win. I cannot imagine what happens inside the mind and soul of a cheater who wins. Perhaps there is some kind of feeling of evil pleasure, but it is nothing good. A dishonest win is actually a huge loss for all involved and all who observe. Most of all, it is a gigantic character loss for the cheater.
This is not about perfection. Perfection is not realistic and not possible. But it is possible to set our standards high and seek to walk with God daily, asking Him for wisdom and strength. Each time we fall short, we need to own it, confess it, repent, apologize as needed, learn the lesson, and move forward with renewed wisdom and humility. That is how integrity is built – one learning experience (or many) at a time. I am a big proponent of not wasting the pain. A lot of teachable moments we experience are not fun, and I do not enjoy pain. So, I prefer to learn the lesson the first time through a painful learning “opportunity” if possible. God loves us too much to allow us to miss what He wants to teach us, and he will offer us other opportunities to learn if we miss teachable moments in our lives. Be sure to share your wisdom and teachable moments with your children-- to help them learn and possibly help them avoid some pain. As my Mother would say, “a word to the wise is sufficient.”
Wise people learn from the lessons others have learned by being teachable. Mom would also sometimes say, “Well, I guess you are going to have to learn it the hard way, then.” (Referring to the things I would need to learn through painful experience.)
Easter Blessings. He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!