Just a few weeks ago, many politicians of all persuasions in the UK were caught up in the MPs’ expenses row. The Daily Telegraph’s investigation, “The Expenses Files,” went into how politicians–from Gordon Brown’s Cabinet to backbenchers of all parties–exploited the system of parliamentary allowances to subsidize their lifestyles and multiple homes. Many of these politicians who pass laws about various taxation issues were not so keen to have to pay those taxes themselves, although their constituents were obliged by law to do so. One law for them, it seems, and one law for the rest of society.
America’s first President, George Washington, wrote a letter in 1790 to his nephew. He said that “a good moral character was essential in a man.” But as one other commented about the 1990’s, “we have moved on.” That’s a telling phrase that means that now anything goes.
This matter of MPs’ expenses is all about integrity. God’s Word is full of admonition about integrity. And God’s people mustn’t be without that precious commodity.
But what is integrity? According to Wikipedia, “integrity is consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcome. It may be seen as the quality of having a sense of honesty and truthfulness in regard to the motivations for one’s actions.”
Many politicians may have lacked this quality, but it is a quality that God’s people must have.
The book of Proverbs has this to say about this essential quality: “The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them” (Proverbs 11:3); and, “Better is the poor who walks in his integrity Than the one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool” (Proverbs 19:1).
There are those who know the importance of integrity. Years ago, a company in the pharmaceutical business in the US, named Squibb, released the following story on a poster board to be displayed in drugstores:
“In the city of Baghdad lived Hakeem. Many went to him for counsel which he gave freely, asking nothing in return. Then came a young man who had spent much time and got little. ‘Tell me, wise one,’ he said, “What can I do to receive the most for that which I spend?’ Hakeem answered, ‘A thing that is bought or sold has no value unless it contains that which cannot be bought or sold. Look for the priceless ingredient.’ ‘But what is the priceless ingredient?’ asked the young man. Spoke thus the wise one, ‘My son, the priceless ingredient of every product in the market place is the honour and integrity of him who makes it. Consider his name before you buy.'”
Another story backs up this approach. At the American Air Force Academy, formed in July 1993, a center for character development, Colonel Alexander stated the following in the “proposed character development outcomes,” issued January 21, 1993:
“Officers with forthright integrity voluntarily decide the right thing to do and do it in both their professional and private lives. They do not choose the right thing because of a calculation of what is most advantageous to themselves but because of a consistent and spontaneous inclination to do the right thing. Their inclination to do right is consistently followed by actually doing what they believe they should do and taking responsibility for their choices. In other words, persons of integrity ‘walk their talk.'”
Unfortunately, many UK politicians were shown to be deficient in the recent revelations about their expenses. Integrity is a quality that doesn’t rate highly with many in the world today, but in the Kingdom of God integrity will be commonplace and will be taught and practiced worldwide. It will be the way of righteousness. A time to “consider his name before you buy,” as Hakeem was advised.
And it will be a time, unlike today, when integrity WILL truly matter!