“No one will question your integrity if your integrity is not questionable.”
-Nathaniel Bronner Jr.
I have discovered that one of the most important qualities in life is having integrity. According to dictionary.com the definition of integrity is adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
Put more simply, it is doing the right thing – even when no one is looking.
It’s been said that what you do with your money is the best indicator of who you are. Why is it then that people lack integrity when it comes to money? Do people intentionally want to be seen as liars?
You have seen it in the news, company executives who take advantage of their positions and amass large amounts of money dishonestly. However, sometimes you don’t have to look too far to see lack of integrity. You may know someone who finds ways to “cheat” the system in order to save a buck or two.
Now, I’m all for saving money, but I would rather pay more honestly than save money dishonestly. Here’s why I came to that conclusion:
Years ago, I heard a sermon on Acts 5. The story is about Ananias and Sapphira. During that time, many believers who had abundance would share their possessions. This was a voluntary act by the people where they would sell their property and give the proceeds to the apostles to be dispersed to those in need. Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of property and kept some of the money for themselves, but told the apostles that they had given the whole amount from the sale.
3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.”
Ananias and Sapphira did not HAVE to give anything to the apostles. It was their property and their money. There was no requirement to give anything, yet when they did, they lied and said they were giving everything. They lacked integrity and thought they could hide it.
What marked me with this sermon is that integrity in all things, and especially with money, is important. That means that if I lie about something just to save some money, man may not know, but God does.
In the story, Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for lying. That may not happen to me, but God definitely has other ways of not blessing me when I lie to Him. Ask yourself, who would you trust more money with: the child who lies to you (on occasion), or the one who always tells you the truth no matter what?
Tonight my integrity was tested. I took my tween-age daughter to a consignment sale so she could find some deals on clothing. She found a few things and we checked out and paid for them. When we got to the car, she discovered that one of the items still had a tag on it and didn’t get rung up. We all had missed it because it had been hidden inside another article of clothing.
Several thoughts flashed through my head…
“I need to get some food before I pass out.”
“Well, they didn’t see it, it’s their fault. Let’s just go.”
“That seller isn’t going to get her cut for that item because they won’t have the tag.”
“Wow, I’m so glad we caught that.”
You know how you can have multiple thoughts in your head suddenly, but know what you are going to do before the thoughts are complete? That is what happened in that split second. I told my daughter we were going to walk back and pay for that item that was missed.
When we got back inside, we explained that we found the tag and needed to pay for the item. The ladies inside thanked us for our honesty in coming back to tell them. They were so appreciative that one of the ladies said to us, “Because you came back to tell us, I’m going to pay for it.”
She said that if we had not come back that the seller would not get paid and because we were honest and it was their mistake for missing it, they were going to take care of it.
What a great reward AND a great teaching moment for my daughter. On our way back to the car, I pointed out that when you have integrity, you will be blessed in ways you didn’t expect.
She admitted to me that she almost didn’t say anything about the tag, but she knew that would be the wrong thing to do.
Wow! The stuff I am teaching her is paying off! It was a great Mom moment for me.
No one would have ever known that we got a “free” shirt, but God would have known. And frankly, I don’t want to miss out on any blessings that he may pour out to my family.
The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.
Do you have a similar story where your integrity was challenged? Have you ever had one of those “little” tests of integrity that you didn’t pass? (I think we all have.)