More than any other time in human history, we are being inundated with messages: hot takes, “unpopular opinions”, ads, vlogs, fake news — the list goes on. There is so much thrown at us on a daily basis, it’s hard to discern what information is accurate or reliable. It’s harder still to determine how information should influence us in our daily lives. Unfortunately, it would seem what we do allow to influence us can levy heavy consequences.
In its simplest form, I believe integrity can be defined as doing the right thing — no matter the situation.
Unfortunately, simple doesn’t mean easy — and that’s where the rubber meets the road. What is the right thing? How can we know? Some situations are a bit easier than others. Sometimes, it seems the right thing is obvious. Other times, not as much. What are we to do? It’s a legitimate question. More on that in a bit.
One of my grandma’s first jobs was as a bank teller in the 1950s¹. At the end of her first day on the job, the bank manager called her into his office. He informed her that she had allowed a counterfeit bill to be deposited. She apologized and said she had no idea how it had happened. The manager showed her the fake bill and she was dumbfounded. It looked exactly like the real thing! Confused and a little ashamed, she asked how she could tell the difference. The manager’s response stuck with her (and subsequently with me):
“Well, you really can’t right now. And I wouldn’t expect you to. Eventually, you’ll be around real money so much that you’ll actually come to know it – the feel, the sound, even the smell. You’ll become so familiar with the real thing that when a fake comes in, it’ll stand out immediately.”
How are we to know what’s real and what’s not? How are we to discern what is actually true? How are we to choose the right thing?
My advice is no different than the manager of a bank some 70 years ago. Spend time around the truth. Spend time around those who do right. If you’re around the truth enough, lies will be easier to spot.²
Put another way, we must know what we believe and why we believe it. We need a firm foundation. A building’s structural integrity cannot be deemed fit if it doesn’t have a firm foundation. Imagine living in a home without a strong foundation. Would you feel safe? Would you feel confident? Of course you wouldn’t! You need to know the ground on which you stand is stable and sound.
When it comes to right and wrong, my track record isn’t so great. So why would I build my foundation of truth and morality according to my own opinions and standards?
My advice? Go to The Expert. Exchange your truth for The Truth.³ Build your foundation on and through Him. The Truth shall set you free, indeed!
¹ In that time, there were no fancy watermarks or markers you could use to detect a fake.
² Keep in mind the inverse can also be true. If you submerge yourself in the counterfeit, it will become ‘right’ and the truth will become ‘wrong.’
³ See John 14:6