We Call It Integrity; God calls It Righteousness
"Enron." The name now represents an American corporate tragedy. Inflated stock values, lost jobs, lost savings, shattered lives. Enron's collapse sent shock waves through America. And questions: How could it have happened? Who was responsible? What was legal or illegal—ethical or unethical? The questions will be debated for a long time.
Recently a bright young businessman, a new Christian working in a high-profile company, expressed concern about unethical practices in his workplace.
"Who can trust numbers anymore?" he asked. "We fudge, misrepresent, and distort to make more money and grow bigger. We lie, and then many of us go to church on Sunday. How can we do that?"
Those are the right questions. "That's how it's done" doesn't make a thing right. Biblical faith issues a higher standard of what is right, honorable, just, and true.
The Bible's standard is "righteousness," meaning "right relationships." God calls us into right relationships with himself and with one another. Relationships that are fair and equitable. Relationships for the well-being of others. Relationships of radical honesty.
· Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life and honor. (Proverbs 21:21)
· Jesus: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." (Matthew 5:6)
· You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:31)
· Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6:31)
· You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet . . . anything that belongs to your neighbor. (Exodus 20:15-17)
· Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed . . . (Isaiah 1:16-17)
· Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. (James 1:22)
"We lie, and then many of us go on to church," my friend said. "How can we do that?"
"We can't," I said. "Not if we say we believe in a God who calls us to righteousness and integrity."
Jesus summed it up this way: "Seek first the kingdom of God and God's righteousness, and the other things you need in life will be given to you." (Matthew 6:33)
At the end of our lives what matters is not accumulated income, our places on the career ladder, or house size. What matters is the quality of our relationships with other people and with God.
We call it integrity.
The Bible calls it righteousness.
Questions for discussion:
• Where in your work, family, or community life do you struggle with issues of "right" versus accepted practice?
• Read Matthew 6:19–34. How do Jesus' words apply to your daily life?