Written by Doug Apple, Wave94 Tuesday, 08 February 2011 21:38
I did my own laundry in college.
One day I decided that my t-shirts needed to be whiter. I had never fiddled with bleach before, but I knew it made things really white, so I bought some.
I wanted my shirts as white as possible, so I figured pure bleach would be the best. I poured it into a bowl, put in a t-shirt, and went to class.
When I came back, I looked in the bowl and it was really white. Excellent! I grabbed a fork to lift it out of the bleach and, what on earth? The shirt was in tatters!
I didn’t realize that bleach was so powerful it would literally dissolve fabric.
There’s another guy whose wife bleached his socks. She didn’t bleach them nearly as much as I bleached my shirt, but it was still too much. They didn’t realize it, though, until he wore them to work one day, and while he worked, his left sock basically dissolved inside his shoe.
Those fabrics started out strong enough to be worn for years, but the decaying process was hyper-accelerated by the bleach.
Now keep that in mind as I talk about our country. The United States is held together by a fabric of integrity.
Picture a giant piece of fabric covering the whole country. Our nation is only as strong as that fabric of integrity.
The fabric is made up of billions of stitches, and those stitches represent each moment of integrity.
I had a moment of integrity when I did my taxes over the weekend. I prepare my tax return online, using one of those services where they ask you a lot of questions and guide you through the process.
Last year we donated my daughter’s old car to charity, and they gave us a receipt. While I did my taxes, that contribution came up in the questions.
And then came my moment of integrity. They asked how much the receipt was for, and I told them. Then they asked how much I had originally paid for the car.
We bought the car from a relative, and actually paid less for it than the charity gave us a receipt for. Yes, it was worth more than that, and yes, we put a lot of money into it; but that’s not what they were asking. They just wanted to know how much we originally paid for it.
I’m no tax expert, but I immediately had the feeling that if I told the truth, it was going to cost us. I sat there for a second, my mind reaching for ways around this.
It was a moment of integrity, for me and for the nation.
Does it sound like I’m blowing it out of proportion? I’m not. It was just one stitch in a fabric of billions of stitches; but it was my stitch, and I was responsible to make it a good one.
Think of that fabric again, a fabric of integrity stretching across the nation. I am responsible for my portion of that fabric. I need to make sure that each stitch of mine is a good one in the nation’s fabric of integrity.
I decided to tell the truth, even if it cost me money. If I hadn’t, I believe I would have dissolved a stitch in the fabric of integrity. Like the bleach on my t-shirt, one little portion of the national fabric would have lost it’s strength due to my little act of corruption.
That’s what it is, you know. The flip side of integrity is corruption. Don’t think that only applies to crooked politicians. Anytime we don’t operate at the highest integrity, we put corruption in the system, and dissolve a portion of the fabric of integrity.
Think about this. The less integrity a nation has, the less justice it has.
Do you want integrity in business? What about medicine? How about academic integrity or journalistic integrity? What about integrity in marriage or in ministry?
We need integrity in every area of life, and it all comes down to each one of us and our individual moments of integrity.
What happens to the country if there are more and more moments that lack integrity? If more and more people cheat on their taxes? If more people cheat on their spouse? If more people live by situational ethics instead of rock solid moral principles?
If that happens, the fabric of the nation will grow weak, and eventually fail.
What if you answer the phone for someone, and they say, “Tell them I’m not here”? That is a moment of integrity.
As you can see, the standard is high, and none of us is perfect. Everyone has spoiled the fabric at times, but the good news is we can repent. We can turn to God, and with His help, we can become people of mighty integrity. We can be like Job who said, “Till I die I will not put away my integrity from me.” (Job 27:5)
There is a fabric of integrity across this nation, and we will stand or fall based on its strength.
And that strength all comes down to us, to our portion of the fabric, to the decisions we make in each moment of integrity.
E-mail me: email@example.com.
May God bless you today! With Apples of Gold…I’m Doug Apple.
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