Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
The integrity of the upright guides them,
but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.
Whoever fears the LORD walks uprightly,
but those who despise him are devious in their ways.
The LORD abhors dishonest scales,
but accurate weights find favour with him.
In the Bible, integrity is a big deal in our relationship with God. These three short extracts from the book of Proverbs remind us that God values faithful and honest dealing very highly, and that dishonesty shows a contemptuous disregard for God.
I was once traveling by plane from Brisbane to Sydney. Relaxing into my seat, I noticed an official looking folder in the seat pocket in front. It contained the confidential board papers for a major company, which had been left by mistake by a director on the previous flight. It was a company I was interested in, and I had a great desire to read what was inside.
Thinking of myself as a person with reasonable integrity, I was surprised at the intensity of the moral battle that started waging in my head. Would I like someone to read my private papers if I had left them on a plane? No! That seemed to settle it.
But then another little voice started up. ‘Perhaps I should just take a peek so I know what’s in them when I return them’ – trying to rationalise bad behaviour!
‘Perhaps this is a God-given opportunity…’ Where did that thought come from?! Happily, that little battle of integrity was won. I resisted temptation and returned the papers to a very thankful board member when I arrived in Sydney.
All of us face daily choices which test our integrity, whether in big ethical decisions in professional practice, or simple tests of honesty when you might be tempted to steal other people’s ideas, when the shopkeeper undercharges you in error, or when you find something of value left on a plane!
A friend of mine is a sole-trader roofing contractor. He described to me the culture of lying and deceit on the site of a major building project he worked on. Everyone was being ‘encouraged’ to cut corners. My friend told his boss, ‘Don’t even think of asking me to lie for you’. He had drawn his line in the sand.
In whatever situation we are in, each of us has to decide where to draw our line.
The psalmist prayed: ‘May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, LORD, is in you’ (Psalm 25:21) – a great prayer to take to work with us every day.
Graham is a Company Director and former Senior Executive with a global infrastructure company. His latest book Proving Ground – 40 Reflections on Growing Faith at Work is published by Christian Focus.
What tests of integrity do you face in your daily work? Where do you draw the line and make a stand? Join in the conversation in the comments below.