Monday, 07 November 2016 07:16

Guarding Integrity

Written by  Candy Arrington
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When my father was young, my grandfather lost his business and their home when our country experienced an economic crisis. My grandfather was forced to move his family of eleven to a tiny rental house on the edge of town and grow vegetables in the backyard to feed them. While he eventually managed to rebuild his business and another house, this experience of loss reminded them that while things can disappear, certain qualities remain. As a result of their losses, my grandfather told his children, “Your name is all you’ve got. Don’t do anything to tarnish our name.”

 

The family name stood for integrity in town because my grandfather had been honest and fair with his customers. When he experienced loss, people watched this man with a big family to see how he responded, just as they watched him before to see how he lived with prosperity. In the same way, others observe us to see if our actions and words equal integrity and to see if we live out Christian values when things aren’t going well in our lives.

 

When we compromise personal integrity, we tarnish our witness and the name “Christian.”

 

Here are 4 ways to Guard Integrity:

 

Value Honesty.On the surface, telling the truth seems simple enough, but often ego and pride take center stage, and before we realize it, we’re enhancing the truth to elevate ourselves or escape reality that may diminish our image. The same grandfather who said, “your name is all you’ve got” also said, “tell the truth and you don’t have to remember what you said.” If you tell a lie, you have to remember what you said, who you said it to, and in what context. And unless you keep a detailed list of untruths, you’re bound to slip up, at some point, and say something different. So, tell the truth. You expect others to be honest, so hold yourself to that same standard. “Don’t tell lies to each other; it was your old life with all its wickedness that did that sort of thing; now it is dead and gone. You are living a brand new life that is continually learning more and more of what is right, and trying constantly to be more and more like Christ who created this new life within you” (Colossians 3:9-10 TLB).

 

Remain Trustworthy.Have you every shared a concern with someone, asked them to keep what you discussed in confidence, and then heard your words come back at you from multiple people? It hurts, doesn’t it, to have someone betray you by talking to others about what you told them in private. “Trustworthy” means you are worth trusting with information or a requested action. Some people have a hard time being trustworthy because they just can’t resist the feeling of power it gives them to have information and then share it. But it only takes one time of breaking a promise to lose the trust component of integrity. “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret” (Proverbs 11:13 NIV).

 

Accept Responsibility.The current trend in our culture is to accuse and blame others rather than accept responsibility for our mistakes. When someone fails to read directions and misuses a product, she blames the manufacturer and sues for damages. A person who is diagnosed with a disease, blames his employer, claiming the illness resulted from job stress rather than admitting years of unhealthy living. The list could go on, but the point is most people don’t want to take responsibility for their actions. Sidestepping responsibility goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden: “The man replied, ‘It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it’” (Genesis 3:12 NLT). However, unlike Adam, people of integrity admit mistakes without putting a “spin” on the event that implies others are really at fault.

 

Avoid Corruption. Satan has a way of tricking us into thinking no one will know if we compromise integrity. But remember, Satan is all about enticing us to do things that will reflect poorly on the name “Christian.” Corruption usually refers to someone who accepts money or something else of value to perform a dishonest action. Another definition of corruption is decay. If you’ve ever taken a walk in the woods in the fall, you know the smell of decay—rotting leaves and berries. Corruption stinks. It damages your reputation and it doesn’t just happen in the business world or to government officials. Corruption happens when a person writes a paper for someone else, texts an answer to a test question,, or implies something about someone that damages their reputation. No matter how careful you are, this type of activity eventually becomes public. “Extortion turns a wise man into a fool, and a bribe corrupts the heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:7 NIV).

 

Integrity honors fairness, by-passes selfish motives, and mirrors Christ-like qualities. It is more valuable than any financial gain, fame, or position. Integrity is worth preserving and guarding.

 

Candy Arrington is a contributing writer.

 

 

 

Last modified on Monday, 07 November 2016 07:53
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