A couple of days ago, I posted a quote on facebook that had to do with integrity. It was a quote by the 19th century educator, Charlotte Mason. In essence she said that everything we do should be our best because it is a piece of us and that equals integrity.
While I do agree with what she said, I have spent quite a bit of time since then contemplating the idea of integrity. Is it simply a term used to describe a collection of other traits? We probably all have pictures that come to our minds of examples of integrity. I can think of many individuals from past and present.
The reality is that there are so many from history that we could point out as examples of integrity, but there are many fewer today. What used to be accepted as the "normal" way to approach life is now discredited by many. The unsaved see little need since many believe there is no true right or wrong. Even sadder, though, are the many of us who are saved who lack integrity in our day to day life.
The same day, someone else posted the dictionary definition of integrity. "Unbroken and unimpaired" were words used in that definition, and they suddenly struck me as something I had never heard before. Now I realize that this is usually speaking of maintaining the integrity of some thing, but I think the Lord closed my mind to that, and all I could see was how far away from that definition that I was.
"Unbroken and unimpaired". If that was the definition then who could measure up? After pondering this for hours, I considered the fact that the definition was not written for the kind of integrity that I was looking for. So I looked it up in another dictionary. "1. The condition of being free from damage or defect; 2. total honesty and sincerity." (Merriam-Webster, 1996)
Again, I felt the Lord showing me something, but I was not grasping exactly what it was. I escaped to the quiet of the green area to try and make sense of my muddled thoughts. As I sat enjoying the peace and lazy summer weather, I looked down at the grass in front of where I sat.
A small branch, leaves brown and stiff, rested on the green grass. It's dark color called my attention to it. It lay under a tree that is a lovely shade tree, and under which we sit to escape the heat of the sun. All of a sudden the connection I had been looking for became clear.
This branch had been part of the green tree above, but at some point it became broken from the larger branch. It did not take long for the death to occur without the life-giving sap from the main tree. The integrity of the branch had been compromised. I understood.
Jesus, the only One who has ever been completely "honest"; the only One never "impaired" by sinful thoughts or actions is our tap root. Connected to Him we become strong and bear fruit. However, if that connection (integrity) or fellowship is broken or becomes impaired, we wither away. The integrity we think we have, becomes hollow without His constant life-giving grace. Soon we lie dead in our own works, calling attention to ourselves but not fulfilling our purpose.
"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered;" (Jn. 15:4-6a)
Integrity is so much more than being a productive, honest citizen. While many may attempt to imitate the integrity they admire, only those who are connected to the Source of true integrity will ever really have it in their lives.