“In your teaching show integrity . . .” Titus 2:7 (NIV)
One of the great crises facing Western culture today is the demise of good old-fashioned honesty. Integrity is in short supply. We falsify income tax returns, illegally copy computer programs, ignore construction specifications, obtain favours by bribery, plagiarize other people’s work, exaggerate claims, turn a blind eye to illegal practices, embellish academic records, selectively disobey the law, and more.
In the book, The Day America Told the Truth, it’s revealed how ninety-one percent of Americans lie regularly, thirty-three percent of AIDS carriers don’t tell their lovers they’re HIV positive, and most workers admit to slacking off for an average of seven hours a week.
In the book, Keeping Your Ethical Edge Sharp, Gallup statistics reveal how forty-three percent of employees steal work supplies and seventeen percent use the company phone for long distance calls.
In another survey a random group were asked, “What are you willing to do for ten million dollars?” In response, twenty-five percent said they’d abandon their families, twenty-three percent would be prostitutes for a week, and seven percent said they’d kill a stranger.
We shouldn’t be surprised by such alarming statistics. Moral relativism is commonplace. When push comes to shove, people really do believe they’re right in their own eyes.
The lack of integrity in our day is due to our carnal nature. At our core we’re congenital liars, all sinners. In the words of the psalmist; “Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with destruction. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongue they speak deceit” (Psalm 5:9).
We can choose to go against the flow. Integrity can be restored if we’re willing to be transformed. For integrity to triumph the heart must be renewed, the mind restored and the spirit ruled. Honesty begins when we confess our sins. Integrity arrives when we trust Christ to change us from the inside out.
K. Chesterton, a prolific writer in the early 20th Century, said that “morality, like art, consists in drawing a line somewhere.” I agree with Chesterton, but where does the line begin? I believe it begins with God. So let’s be men and women of integrity. And let’s do so by beginning with God and being found in Him; by making Christ our Standard and our Guide.