Personal Integrity: The Call to Consistency
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
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"If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won't be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people's things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?"
—Jesus in Luke 16:10-12
Many of us live one way at work and another way at home. We follow one code of behavior when we're at church and another when we're out with our friends. We cut moral corners when we think nobody's looking, but try to do the right thing when we're in the spotlight. We tell "little white lies" when they don't seem to matter, but claim to be honest people deserving of trust from others.
We live such fractured lives quite naturally, partly because of habit, partly because of what we've seen around us, and partly because our culture endorses such lack of personal integrity. How many times have we heard that it's just fine for a political leader to lie to his wife, just as long as he is good at his public job? We disconnect private and public life, as if such disintegration is no big deal.
Jesus thought differently. He said that "if you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones" too. By implication, you will not be faithful in the big things if you are not faithful in the little ones. The same is true, according to Jesus, when it comes to honesty. He even connects stewardship of financial resources with taking care of God's riches.
Jesus helps us to understand that we are not meant to live splintered lives. How we live in private cannot be distinct from how we live in public. We are called to a life of consistent integrity, consistent wholeness, consistent living no matter the context. Of course, we will all fail at times in our effort to live this way. But our failures do not mean the vision of Jesus is wrong. They mean, rather, that we must confess them to the Lord and ask him to help us live each moment in a way that honors him and serves the interests of his kingdom.
Mark Roberts is a regular contributor to TheHighCalling.org and the senior advisor and theologian-in-residence for Foundations for Laity Renewal. He is the author of several books including Can We Trust the Gospels? This article is adapted with permission from his original article "A Call to Consistent Integrity" at TheHighCalling.org. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures quoted are taken from the New Living Translation.
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