Sunday, March 9, 2014

Spiritual Pick-Up Sunday~What's the Price of Your Integrity?

“Jim, for 25 cents I can maintain my integrity. A dollar, questionable, but 25 cents—no, not for 25 cents.”

A friend of mine posted a Youtube video on Facebook earlier this week and it pricked me a bit, got me thinking, and I gave myself a challenge.  I'd like to do the same for you today.  It's not an easy lesson though, it requires some humility, it requires honesty, and it likely won't be easy.  As it says in 1 Nephi 16:2 "...the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center."  And who of us is not guilty?

The video my friend posted was about electronic piracy and who it hurts, why it was wrong.  I don't have the exact link and I'll be honest that I didn't watch every second of it...the fellow that made it was rather long winded.  I don't personally illegally download music or videos but I know people that do, and I know it's not uncommon.  Maybe that's not your sin of choice either.  Here's just a short list of other options...

*Do you intentionally drive over the speed limit?

*Have you knowingly used a coupon that was expired or didn't follow the rules written in the fine print?

*Do you spend time texting at work when it's against company policy?

*Have you ever taken office supplies home?

*Have you ever cheated on a test?

*Do you gossip?

*Have you ever been guilty of a "hit and run", even if it was a small offense?

*Have you ever littered?

*Have you lied to your parents, spouse, or friend?

*Have you let a sibling take the blame for something you did?

*Have you cut corners while driving (illegally using a parking lot to avoid a stop light)?

*Do you use your blinker?

*Is the weight on your driver's license truthful?

*Have you ever called in sick when you weren't sick?

*Have you ever lied to get out of a situation you didn't like?

*Did you notice a cashier forgot to scan an item they bagged and neglected to say something (or they gave you back too much change)?

And the list could go on!!! 

Let's take the first one on the list-which I will openly admit to.  I have always been of the theory of "Five is Fine"-meaning as long as I'm not more than 5 over the speed limit, I should be fine.  I have tried to live my life in such a way that I do not feel guilty, but when I've done self assessments over the years, I always come back to this.  It seems like such a small offense in the grand scheme of's not like I'm committing grand theft auto or treason...but I am still technically intentionally breaking the law, and part of my beliefs is to follow the law of the land.

Now, don't misunderstand's not like my conscience plagues me daily about this.  As humans, we're pretty good at numbing ourselves to sins.  Ol' Scratch knows what he's doing, how to whisper, so we sweep guilt under the rug and keep on keeping on.  I know people that are great liars, and show no sign of remorse, they are well practiced.  The point of this life is not to see how many calluses we can build up or how much we can numb ourselves, but to become better, to grow, to let our light shine so others can see and we can guide them to Christ.  Sometimes growth requires us to reach into our Divine Nature and Potential and do hard things, and give up our favorite vices, our most loved sins.

So why have I not changed my ways in my 13 years of being a driver?  Justification.  I've never been pulled over by a cop for speeding (I mean, it's only 5 over, not 7 or 10 or more).  And quite frankly, everyone else does it too!  Sometimes I get annoyed when my husband drives the speed limit or slightly under because it feels like 3,000 cars are behind us calling us "grandma".  I thought about this reasoning the other day and I think of 2 lessons that I learned as a child.  When I would get in trouble, my parents would sometimes ask "Are you sorry you did it, or sorry you got caught?"  Let's be honest, I was sorry they caught me, just like I'd be sorry if I got a speeding ticket.  The other lesson is from D.A.R.E.-Drug Abuse Resistance Education.  I laughed at myself when I was justifying the gag order on my conscience using the good ol' "bandwagon" approach they talked about in 5th grade...the "everyone is doing it" reason.  All those people I imagine calling me grandma from behind as I obey the speed I going to listen to them...I certainly wouldn't if it was about using drugs instead of speeding...

Richard C. Edgley gave a talk in an LDS General Conference called "Three Towels and a 25-Cent Newspaper"

He says:
"Sadly, some of the greatest missing values in today’s world are honesty and integrity. In the past few years an increasing number of business leaders have been exposed for dishonesty and other forms of bad behavior. As a result, tens of thousands of loyal, long-term employees have lost their livelihoods and pensions. For some this has resulted in loss of homes, change of education and other life plans. We read and hear of widespread cheating in our schools, with more concern about receiving a grade or degree than learning and preparation. We hear of students who have cheated their way through medical school and are now performing complicated procedures on their patients. The elderly and others are victims of scam artists, often resulting in the loss of homes or life savings. Always this dishonesty and lack of integrity are based on greed, arrogance, and disrespect.

In Proverbs we read, “Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are his delight” (Proverbs 12:22). 

Mormon, speaking of the converted Lamanites who were known as the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi, wrote: “And they were among the people of Nephi, and also numbered among the people who were of the church of God. And they were also distinguished for their zeal towards God, and also towards men; for they were perfectly honest and upright in all things; and they were firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end” (Alma 27:27; emphasis added).

Honesty is the basis of a true Christian life. For Latter-day Saints, honesty is an important requirement for entering the Lord’s holy temple. Honesty is embedded in the covenants that we make in the temple. Each Sunday as we partake of the holy emblems of the Savior’s flesh and blood, we again renew our basic and sacred covenants—which encompass honesty...Honesty should be among the most fundamental values that govern our everyday living.

When we are true to the sacred principles of honesty and integrity, we are true to our faith, and we are true to ourselves."

(To read the full talk or view it, go HERE.)

So what's to be done?  We're never going to be perfect in this life, but that doesn't mean we give up trying to be better.  I would be proud to be numbered in the group described as "perfectly honest and upright in all things, firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end"!  To start, it takes admitting the truth.  Prayer and scripture study can help with this, and pondering.  Make a list.  Make a plan.  Maybe just take one of these problems at a time, take baby steps if needed, quit cold turkey if you can.  Those we've lived with for a long time will be harder to overcome.  Whether a new habit or old, remember repentance-you have help, and you have hope to finally rid yourself of the guilt that comes with it (guilt which may even be mostly suppressed).

I've mentioned before that I'm a Young Women's leader at church and we have a Personal Progress program.  One of the required experiences associated with the value Integrity reads as follows:

"Conduct a self-assessment of your personal integrity. Ask yourself the following questions: Do I avoid gossip, inappropriate jokes, swearing and profanity, and being light-minded about sacred subjects? Am I completely truthful, morally clean, honest, dependable, and trustworthy in my schoolwork and other activities? Pray daily for strength and for the guidance of the Holy Ghost to help you live with integrity. Write in your journal the things you can do to improve your personal integrity and at least one new habit you want to develop."

Like I said before, the first step is to make a list, make a plan.  The last thing I would stress, is to be an example.  Maybe you have they hear you lie when you give an untrue excuse to someone over the phone?  Have you gossiped about one friend to another...if so, what message does that send to the friend you gossiped to?  Are you showing what you think is ok.  Is it ok then to gossip about you?  Or does that mean you gossip about them behind their back as well?

Lastly, my favorite part of Richard C. Edgley's talk:

"Some 30 years ago, while working in the corporate world, some business associates and I were passing through O’Hare Airport in Chicago, Illinois. One of these men had just sold his company for tens of millions of dollars—in other words, he was not poor.

As we were passing a newspaper vending machine, this individual put a quarter in the machine, opened the door to the stack of papers inside the machine, and began dispensing unpaid-for newspapers to each of us. When he handed me a newspaper, I put a quarter in the machine and, trying not to offend but to make a point, jokingly said, “Jim, for 25 cents I can maintain my integrity. A dollar, questionable, but 25 cents—no, not for 25 cents.” You see, I remembered well (a previous experience he shared-the 3 towels). A few minutes later we passed the same newspaper vending machine. I noticed that Jim had broken away from our group and was stuffing quarters in the vending machine. I tell you this incident not to portray myself as an unusual example of honesty, but only to emphasize the lessons of three towels and a 25-cent newspaper.

There will never be honesty in the business world, in the schools, in the home, or anyplace else until there is honesty in the heart.

I wonder how the world would be if simple lessons of honesty were taught in the home at an early age, simple lessons such as “Love your neighbor as yourself” (see Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31) and “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” (see Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31)."

Make a list.  Make a plan.  Be an example.  What is the price of your integrity?  25 cents?  The $15.99 it costs to buy that dvd legally?  The peace of mind you could wake up with and go to sleep with each and every day?

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