It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. [Galatians 5:19-21a (MSG)]

God can’t stand deceivers, but oh how he relishes integrity. [Proverbs 11:20 (MSG)]

great egret

Last month, I read an article about a local construction company. Its founders built a successful business by focusing on a core set of values that are bookended by integrity and faith in God. Values such as leadership, lasting relationships, healthy environment, and quality are found in between those two. I recalled a dinner we had just attended that honored five businesses for their excellence. In their acceptance speeches, nearly every CEO mentioned integrity as one of his company’s core values. Considering how many corporate scandals have hit the news lately, it was heartening to find successful businesses that consider integrity to be one of their guiding principles. In just the last few months, the news has been filled with stories about corporate greed, insider trading, hacking schemes, Medicare fraud, kickbacks, identity theft, phony accounts, false claims, bribery, corruption and tax, securities, and accounting fraud. Integrity seems to be in short supply these days.

Integrity is being honest, fair and reliable. It is having soundness of moral character and being honorable, incorruptible and straightforward. It is having the courage to do the right thing in all situations. It is conducting our lives in private the same way we do in public. It is treating people who can do us favors the same way we treat those who can’t. It is what each and every person and each and every business should have but, unfortunately, often doesn’t.

Out of curiosity, I looked up the published core beliefs or corporate values of several of the recent black sheep of the business world and was surprised to see that many of them listed things like integrity, doing what’s right for their customers, ethics, and honesty as one or more of their guiding principles. Apparently, it’s easy to say we believe in integrity but much harder to act with it. What I didn’t find on any of those websites, however, was any mention of faith in God. Perhaps the mistake those scandal-ridden businesses made was not having a value like integrity bookended with faith in God. After all, it’s only through the power of the Holy Spirit that our sinful nature can be conquered.

Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you. [H. Jackson Brown, Jr.]

Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. [2 Peter 1:3 (MSG)]

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. [Galatians 5:22-23 (MSG)]