Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.
Finally, friends, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
The navigation of Life regularly entails a confrontation with compromise. We make adjustments. At home or school, at work, in traffic, we bump up against each other and modify our behaviors, our schedules, our desires, our language in order to accommodate the immediate needs of those with whom we share the planet. We trust that they too are making adjustments in our behalf. It is a simple necessity in every social setting. I mean, we all know those few folks who steadfastly refuse to consider the needs of anyone other than themselves, and we don’t want to be them.
And yet, perhaps too often, our compromises spill over from the realm of social adjustment into the realm of spiritual integrity. By this, I mean, we may find ourselves making compromises that challenge who we are at the very core. It is possible, with the best of intentions, to become the very thing we despise. Integrity is the foundation bolting against the earthquakes of Life. It is what motivates us to make choices that adhere to a moral center, especially when we are tested and confronted with a personal or professional dilemma that clashes with these values. It doesn’t simply appear either, but must be cultivated, practiced, and evaluated.
I was put in mind of this during the week, when I read a little story about World Changers Church International and their pastoral leadership, Creflo and Taffi Dollar. The church is one of the Prosperity Gospel churches that focus their theological efforts on the notion that the Holy One of Israel will make a person wealthy and healthy, if that person happens to tithe 10% of their income to the Dollars. This week was a special week however. This week the Dollars were asking people to pony up so that they could buy a brand spanking new Gulfstream G650, a $65 million dollar jet. Maybe I’ll just leave this here.
In a world that is replete with slippery slopes, that encourages moral compromise with every trip to the grocery store, it is easy to imagine how one goes from believing that divine blessings could be corporeal to a convincing desire for a private jet. As counterpoint, I offer the delightful example of Edith Macefield, the elderly Seattle woman who, in 2006, turned down a developer’s offer of $1 million dollars for her tidy 1000 sq. ft. home. They ended up building their office complex around the house. I just love the fact that her values were sufficiently rooted in something deeper, that she could resist the predatory power of shiny things. Sometimes our sense of integrity means saying no to some very attractive prospects. Yet, if there is any depth of spiritual value in the world, that’s probably where it starts.
“Nothing is at last sacred, but the integrity of your own mind.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.”