Wednesday, July 3, 2013

On Integrity

I was doing business recently with a self-proclaimed Christian and during the process of writing the contract he changed his story as he felt pressure to answer my questions. Specifically, he said repeatedly "This is not a contract. It's a permission form.". Finally, I asked him to write that on the contract and he replied "Well, it is really a contract, but it doesn't become effective until...".  To make a long story short, I layed awake two nights concerned with his lack of honesty and then I canceled the contract.

I'm sure in his own mind he somehow rationalized this obscuring of the truth, but to me, it broke the deal. I questioned his Christian integrity!  Integrity is holding onto Christian principles. He placed sealing the contract over complete honesty!

On eBay I always describe my sales items specifying any faults the product may have. Let's say a pen has a "ding".  I write that in the ad then show it on the picture. Oftentimes the buyer will turn in a refund case against me because the pen has a "ding".  Not only did the bidder not read the listing before bidding, but the bidder didn't even read it before filing a case! When I point out the accuracy of the listing, they usually come up with a whole list of other things that are "wrong" with the item, all imaginary. This happens time and again and few will admit their own mistake (pride)  and commence to calling me names!  The last person who did this dishonest act said that "God will deal with me and I'll pay!"  Not only did this Christian not have any integrity, but he used God as a weapon of revenge!

"Honesty" with God and man is a characteristic of "integrity".  We're to use balanced scales in all our dealings. Cheating at all is horrific, but rationalizing it in the name of the Lord is just plain sad... no integrity!

2 Corinthians 8:21 "Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men."

Truth, honesty, just, pure, lovely and good report are words to describe a person with Christian integrity:

Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

I could have just said "moral integrity" in lieu of "Christian integrity", but if one is a Christian should imply that person has integrity. Those who are moral, but not Christian have no standards of integrity. The integrity of a Christian is operationalized all through Scripture and is summarized by the "Ten Commandments".

As you may know the "Ten Commandments" is rewritten in the New Testamant as:

Matthew 22:37 (KJV) "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment.  39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
How can you love your neigbor if your dishonest with him or try to cheat him? How can you say that you love the Lord and break this "Greatest Commandment" which in the same breath places the love of neighbor in the same thought as love of God?
The "Ten Commandments" were written on stone by God so that man would be without excuse. The law cannot be broken when there is no law. By lacking in Christian integrity one not only violates some commandments (lying, coveting, stealing, etc.), but are showing no Christian charity. The Christian without integrity is placing self over God and has created for themself an idol... the self!
1 Corinthians 16:14  "Let all your things be done with charity." Charity in this case is love and indulgence of others!
Many times, in my business dealings, I take the high road and out of charity, I reimburse the person attempting to cheat me. However, sometimes I believe that it's beneficial for them to suffer the consequences of their action, so I hold fast to the agreement. My final decision is based on the attitude of the person with the complaint. If the person is contrite and say "I failed to read the description well.", I normally reimburse that person who has integrity. If the buyer plays the blame game, then my charity turns to pragmatism... "I can't make a profit if I allow myself to be cheated!"
Integrity!  It's important for anyone, but even more so for the Christian. A lack of integrity on your part will be used by the lost who pegs the Christian with a lack of integrity as a hippocrite.

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