Integrity Declined

Growing up one of the values that was consistently put in front of me was integrity. I saw it in society, in my family and even in popular culture. “A man’s word is his bond” Deals were supposed to be sealed with a handshake because a “man was only as good as word.”

I’m not sure why all the popular quotes about giving your word seem to revolve around men rather than women, but I believe it was expected that both would conduct themselves with integrity. To be bond breaker or a liar was one of the worst condemnations you could put on a person.

As a Christian, this seemed even more important. Not only was it one of God’s commandments, but the Bible is filled with verses encouraging believers to pursue truth, defend truth, know the truth and proclaim the truth.

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. – John 8:31–32

Anyone who has ever told a lie knows how true that statement is. Lies bind us to a prison of our own making. We must remember to keep them straight and we can find ourselves trapped by our own web. Lies repeated from others have different difficulties and condemnations. The law prosecutes them as slander and the Bible condemns gossip.

Today, truth is under attack from all sides. Relativism is common and growing. Where there used to be a concern that post-modernism would destroy our conception of truth, now it seems that all sides are showing a growing disdain for facts and integrity. Both sides yell, “fake news” when they hear anything they don’t like, but many of those who would condemn such news as fake, seem to have no concern about whether their own posts and reposts have any basis in the truth.

This doesn’t make sense to me. How can we claim to have integrity and character, but have no interest in whether something is true? Truth is real, it is not something that changes for each person. Whatever we read, whether from the left or the right, we should care if it is true, not just if it is supporting our own opinion and prejudices. If we call ourselves believers, we must be even more concerned with truth.

He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them. 2 Thessalonians 2:10

In this letter found in the New Testament, the author is cautioning this church against the tactics of the Devil. While this verse is talking about the lost, who don’t understand the salvation offered them in Jesus Christ, I want to call attention to a phrase here, “they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them.” This goes well with the verse above, “the truth will set you free.”

Freedom and salvation are found in truth. No one should desire to build their reality on a lie.

They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised. – Romans 1:25

This verse is talking about choosing to worship idols rather than God. In their time, it was most frequently an idol made of stone or wood, but idols persist to this day. It’s possible that one of the idols you are dealing with is the desire to be right or to have your opinion seen as right, but our opinions mean little if they are not actually true.

If you are someone who sees yourself as a person of integrity, I would hope the truth would matter to you as much on social media as it does on a deal with a neighbor or a friend. If you are follower of Jesus Christ, you can’t afford to set the truth aside. To carelessly put our name on something which may or may not be true is not only to decline our own integrity but to attach our flippant disregard for the truth to the name of Christ as well.

We should all be people of conviction, who are willing to stand for our beliefs. That is an admirable quality. But I hope you will care more about the truth than being admired. We should remember the day when as a society, our word meant something and we valued truth over opinion. When we enter the public forum, whether it is in person or online, let’s have the caution to consider our words carefully and to be advocates for the truth, champions for integrity, instead of accomplices in its continual decline.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. – Ephesians 5:15–16

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