Honesty and integrity
Honesty and integrity are prerequisites to character. I remember a debate back in the Clinton era when people like James Carvel and George Stephanopoulos who were running the 1992 Clinton campaign succeeded in convincing most of the American people that "character" in a politician did not matter. In fact it was made into a joke with the phrase, "It's the economy, stupid." Of course we all know they really did believe that character did not matter, given the "bimbo" eruptions, stains on the dress, lying to congress and impeachment that plagued the nation for the next eight years after James and George put their man in office. To omit character from an individual is to admit that person has little, if any, honesty and integrity.
Recently we followed the politicians in New York running for Mayor who had been charged with "sexting" pictures of personal, unmentionable body parts to young women. Even after having resigned in disgrace the practice continued a year after the resignation. Now, during the election people were to reject the idea of character and integrity in favor of electing the guy to the high office of Mayor of New York City. It seems a case of some people having stratospheric gall, or that people are so gullible as to accept anything pushed down their throats. In either case, when we stamp out character from any walk of life, even political life, we are endangering those around us who must live and work with those who have experienced a "characterdectomy".
It is interesting how those same people are maligning Christianity in today's culture. Christian living practices honesty and integrity. To accept Christ and His lifestyle is to be "Christ-like" and walk in His ways, not the ways of the world around us. Honesty stands above even riches, glory and fame. To maintain one's honesty and integrity is a far greater calling than to step on others to gain wealth or notoriety.
Proverbs 19 starts by talking about honesty and integrity. The first verse reads:
"Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is perverse in his speech."
Honesty and integrity have been maligned over the past several years. Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking. A life lived with integrity is a life that is deemed honest in all dealings with everyone around us. Reputation is formed and trust is gained. We seek out those whose reputations reflect their honesty; we know that when we do business with those people we are not likely to be cheated. As integrity grows within the person, his way of life becomes obvious for all to see; he is said to have a good and true character.
It is from character that a person's decisions are made. Each day, almost every minute of the day we make decisions. Each decision we make has consequences that result in influencing or affecting another in some specific way. When we have gained a reputation based on integrity and honesty and have formed a character of good report, the direction of our decisions are mostly for the common good of others.
The opposite of that is true as well. When we choose to ignore our "higher calling" and practice the more "perverse" way of life, we fall into a pattern of life-style that leads us into a downward spiral that oftentimes leads to despair and self destruction. The Apostle Paul refers to that "sin nature" and some of those outcomes such as "…hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, envy, drunkenness, wild parties…." (Galatians 5:19-21)
Having internalized the Christian way of life by accepting the work of Jesus and His sacrifice by the shedding of His blood on the cross, we are free to yield ourselves over to His leading as He works through us to lead us to this way of life that produces integrity. The good news is that by yielding ourselves to Him through faith, we have His promise that He will continue to provide us the help to grow toward abundant life. He promised never to leave us, "I [Jesus] am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:20)
Christian living should contain elements of:
Submitting your life to Christ;
Being receptive to the leading of His Spirit;
Growing by practicing honesty and integrity in the Spirit;
Giving all the glory to God.
As we examine our politicians or those who govern our lives, isn't it just common sense to expect the person to have a decent level of decorum with a high measure of honesty, integrity and character?