Honesty and Integrity
Greetings precious people. In todayís article we are going to continue to look at topics that are real issues in our society today. In the past thirty years, our society has changed radically. The technical, medical, and computer fields have advanced many times over. Unfortunately, society has not advanced on all fronts. Though we have made great advancements in many areas, we have gone backward quite rapidly in others. We are on a downhill slide in the area of morals. We have sunk to all time lows in regards to morality. We have addressed some of these in past articles. (You may request a copy of any of these by sending your request to the address below.) I find it interesting how Godís Word, the Bible, speaks of that which we are experiencing. In 2 Timothy 3:7, "Always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." Here we are making great advancements in many fields, yet we are getting further and further from the truth.
In todayís article, I would like for us to look at another area of morality in which we have taken a turn for the worse, that of honesty and integrity. Honesty is defined in Websterís Dictionary as: the state or quality of being honest; a refraining from lying, cheating, stealing; being truthful, trustworthy, or upright. Integrity is defined as: the quality or state of being of sound moral principle, uprightness, honesty, and sincerity. I like the definition I heard given some time ago concerning honesty and integrity. Honesty is doing what is right; integrity is doing what is right when no one is around to see what you are doing.
The lack of honesty and integrity can be seen in every walk of life. Recent statistics from our public schools and colleges reveal some alarming trends. Not only are more students cheating on tests and papers, but also it is occurring among a wider age group of students. Elementary students are now reporting that cheating is a common occurrence. Even of greater concern is the mind set many expressed of there not being anything wrong with cheating. It is as though cheating has become a way of life, something one is "expected" to do.
This plague of dishonesty is not restricted to students in our educational system. It is a very real problem in the work place. Talk to any business owner or company official and they will tell you that one of their greatest problems is with dishonest employees. Employees that steal money, merchandise, and time from the company or business. The consensus among most employers is that it is becoming more and more difficult to find honest people that they can trust.
The cause of this lack of honesty and integrity that is plaguing society can be attributed to many areas. One is that of leadership within our nation. Think of the many politicians, both past and present that while campaigning for office made boasts and promises of great things that they would do if elected, only to renege on most if not all of them once in office. Or when being questioned concerning their conduct and practices in various dealings and decisions, have responded with bold face lies or invoked their Fifth Amendment right rather than just simply being honest and telling the truth. The unfortunate thing is that few within our nation care to hold any of these accountable.
Why do the people of this land allow this to be? The answer is simple and can be found in Scripture. The adage, "History repeats itself" is ever so true. There was one of many times in the history Israel where the rulers were very corrupt and the people did nothing about it. God gives us the reason for this in Jeremiah 5:21-31, "Hear this now, O foolish people, without understanding, who have eyes and see not, and who have ears and hear not: Do you not fear Me?' says the LORD. 'Will you not tremble at My presence, who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea, by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass beyond it? And though its waves toss to and fro, yet they cannot prevail; though they roar, yet they cannot pass over it. But this people have a defiant and rebellious heart; they have revolted and departed. They do not say in their heart, "Let us now fear the LORD our God, who gives rain, both the former and the latter, in its season. He reserves for us the appointed weeks of the harvest." Your iniquities have turned these things away, and your sins have withheld good from you. 'For among My people are found wicked men; they lie in wait as one who sets snares; they set a trap; they catch men. As a cage is full of birds, so their houses are full of deceit. Therefore they have become great and grown rich. They have grown fat, they are sleek; yes, they surpass the deeds of the wicked; they do not plead the cause, the cause of the fatherless; yet they prosper, and the right of the needy they do not defend. Shall I not punish them for these things?' says the LORD. 'Shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?' "An astonishing and horrible thing Has been committed in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule by their own power; and My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?"
The Lord finishes this section with a very searching question, "But what will you do in the end?" What will the outcome be if you continue in the direction that you are going? We can see from history, that every person, group of people, and nation that continued the path of dishonesty ended in destruction. When the people do nothing about their corrupt leaders it is because they love to have it so. In other words, it makes them feel comfortable in their own sin of lying, cheating and stealing. The mentality is, "If the leaders are doing it, why shouldnít I?" The people are a reflection of their leadership.
Another major cause for the increase in dishonesty is that honesty and integrity is not being taught in the home. Now let me say, I believe there are a number of good parents that are seeking to raise their children to be upright and honest, but this is not the norm. There are also some honest politicians, but they are in the minority.
In order to teach children honesty and integrity, there must be an unchangeable standard that is used. One cannot teach a child about honesty and integrity by using such things as "situational ethics" which is taught in many public schools today. Basically this philosophy teaches that it is the situation that determines the degree of honesty that is practiced. This leaves it up to the individual to determine what is right and wrong. This is a by-product of the common philosophy prevalent in society today of, truth being relevant. It is up to each individual to determine what is right and wrong, there are no absolutes. Honesty and integrity can never be taught when the defining of such is left up to each individual.
There are absolutes; the Bible makes this perfectly clear. There is a heaven and a hell. There is a day in which all will have to stand before the Almighty God and be judged. The standards of judgement to be used will not be that which I determined it to be, rather it will be Godís standard. His standard is the unchangeable Law of God. A person will be judged according to what they have done with Jesus Christ. Jesus is the standard; He lived the perfect life.
As a parent, I must not only teach my children about honesty and integrity from Godís Word, the Bible, I must also teach them by example from my own life. Am I living honestly before God and man? Am I living a life of integrity?
Listen dear people, if we continue the path that we are presently on, there is a very dark future ahead. Change must take place and it needs to begin with us. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:22-25, "Put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away lying, "Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor," for we are members of one another." And in Romans 12:2, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
Change can take place in your life through the Grace and Power of Jesus Christ. Turn to Him today; let Him change your life.
If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine