"But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever."
(Psalm 41:12; ESV)
I have been thinking about "Integrity" lately, and specifically, my own. The word "Integrity" seems to have gotten itself lost somewhere in the archives of yesteryear's vocabulary.
"Integrity" seems to have become one of those words that leaves a dumb blank stare on a lot of people's faces today, as if they really have no idea what we're talking about when we speak of it.
My dictionary defines "Integrity" as:
"1. firm attachment to moral or artistic principle; honesty and sincerity; uprightness, 2. wholeness; completeness, 3. the condition of being unmarred or uncorrupted; the original, perfect condition."
I have become convinced that, just as we look at ourselves in the mirror to make sure that we look just right before walking out the door in the morning, so too we would do well to test ourselves with a look in the Integrity Mirror. It can be a very sobering exercise. What kind of people are we really?
"The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them." (Proverbs 11:3; ESV)
I've often joked that, "I once thought I was wrong, but I was mistaken." While perhaps cute when said as a joke, the truth of the matter is, a lack of integrity is no laughing matter, and is no joke. According to Proverbs, a lack of integrity can actually lead us to our own destruction. In other words, this is serious stuff, and probably shouldn't be taken too lightly.
There once was a time when a handshake confirmed a man's word; that was all the guarantee that anyone needed. Unfortunately that handshake is completely worthless in the vast majority of cases today. People are no longer good to their word. Too many handshakes today are done with crossed fingers in the opposite hand. No wonder there is so little trust in the world today. Likewise, no wonder there is so little trust in the church today. Nobody seems to believe in Integrity anymore! The new philosophy today says, "He who dies with the most toys wins" (anonymous), regardless how one comes to possess those toys, and regardless who gets stepped on in the process. How sad. Does anyone really care for anyone other than themselves anymore today? I wonder.
The following poem is called, "Am I True to Myself?" and was written by Edgar Guest. It truly is a good look into an Integrity Mirror.
I have to live with myself, and so
I want to be fit for myself to know,
I want to be able, as days go by,
Always to look myself straight in the eye;
I don't want to stand, with the setting sun,
And hate myself for the things I've done.
I don't want to keep on a closet shelf
A lot of secrets about myself,
And fool myself, as I come and go,
Into thinking that nobody else will know
The kind of man I really am;
I don't want to dress myself in sham.
I want to go out with my head erect,
I want to deserve all men's respect;
But here in the struggle for fame and pelf
I want to be able to like myself.
I don't want to look at myself and know
That I'm bluster and bluff and empty show.
I can never hide myself from me;
I see what others may never see;
I know what others may never know,
I can never fool myself, and so,
Whatever happens, I want to be
Self-respecting and conscience free.
I wonder how many of us are still prepared for such an Integrity Mirror Test today. I wonder too how many of us can honestly and truly say this poem is what we aspire to be ourselves. I wonder how many of us still believe in that old fashioned word, Integrity. I wonder how many of us even care.
"Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity
than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool."
(Proverbs 19:1; ESV)