Concerned about causing another to err, he cries, “May those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me, O Lord, the Lord Almighty” (Psalm 69:6).
Prayed thousands of years ago, that petition is pertinent to us today. We all need God’s strength, because any of us can fall and thereby bring shame to Christ’s name.
The Bible solemnly warns, “Whoever thinks he is standing firm had better be careful that he does not fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
We are vulnerable to sin’s ways and, like the Psalmist, we should pray “Test me and know my anxious thoughts” (Psalm 139:23).
That is not to say we have to cower in fear when faced with temptation. If we really commit ourselves to be men and women of God, the Holy Spirit will keep us. That is part of His blessed office work. Both God and the world have a right to expect us to be people of integrity reflected in what we do and say.
We must not stretch the truth about everyday things, such as the number of fish caught, grades on an exam, or our golf score. By the way, someone defined a golfer as one who yells fore, takes six, and puts down five!
A national ministerial journal devoted an entire issue to the subject of integrity. The graphics department prepared an unusual cover.
It depicted a minister with back to the camera, holding the Bible in one hand and fingers crossed in the other!
One article in the journal asked: “At home, in the marketplace, and in the neighborhood, do you apply the principle you trumpet forth from the pulpit”?
Several years ago, an issue of Christopher News Notes listed some searching questions:
1. Do I sometimes tell people what I think they want to hear, rather than what I really believe?
2. Do I color statements to win approval or to avoid disapproval?
3. Do I promise more than I intend — or am able — to deliver?
4. Do I tell the truth, but not the “whole truth”?
When truth is stretched, it ceases to be truth. Stretched truth is untruth. Pointing out how we should respect truth, Emerson said, “The greatest homage we can pay to truth is to use it.” We ought to use truth, not misuse it. We are to speak the truth, and only the truth.
The word integrity comes from integer meaning a whole number, one that is not divisible. There is no such thing as partial integrity. Therefore, a person possessing it is wholly — completely, totally —honest.
That honesty prevails even at income tax time. Someone said that the IRS seems to make liars of most of us. Admittedly, returns have become so complicated that it is sometimes difficult to know just what the law is.
Nonetheless, we must do our best to be thorough and honest in our answers about income, exemptions, and expenses.
The Psalmist’s prayer should be ours: “May those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me, O Lord, the Lord Almighty.”