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The world's need for integrity

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

You don't have to be an avid sports fan to appreciate the particular moves that inspire – and lift us all up higher. The name of the game is honesty.

A few weeks ago during the second stage of the PGA Tour qualifying tournament in Texas, golfer J.P. Hayes realized he'd played a ball that wasn't the same model he'd used to start his round. He'd violated the "one ball" rule. He easily could have let it go. No one knew and no one would have been the wiser. But he didn't. The next day, he realized something else: He hadn't only played the wrong ball, but he'd played a ball from his bag – a prototype – that wasn't approved. No one noticed. He'd only played it for two strokes, and he could have let that one pass, too. Instead, he came clean, which because of the hard and fast rules on the golf circuit, put him out of the running for the year 2009 and potential high-money stakes.

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Sometimes we assume that when the stakes are high – whether it be government, politics, sports, high finance, whatever – it's OK for integrity to take a back seat. The opportunity is too big to lose, right? But this is just the time we need to uphold our own, and everyone else's, integrity, because it's a divine quality and an established part of our nature. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor, put it this way: "Evasion of Truth cripples integrity, and casts thee down from the pinnacle" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 448). The "pinnacle" she referred to is the pinnacle mentioned in the Bible, when the devil tempted Jesus to jump, out of self-will and arrogance, from the top of the temple in Jerusalem (see Luke 4:9). In other words, it's as if a thought whispered, "Go ahead, be less than you actually are."

That biblical example can be applied to countless scenarios in contemporary life. A cashier gives you too much change at the supermarket and the tempter suggests, "You can keep it – after all, it was her mistake." Or a manager in a financial firm chooses to pad profits because he knows he's got surrogates all around to protect him. Or a government official attempts to use his power to his own advantage. In each case, a thought suggests. "Go ahead, nobody will know…"

It's worth noting that Jesus' reply to the devil when he was tempted to cast himself from the pinnacle was, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God" (Luke 4:12). In that moment, Jesus spoke back to the lie that was encouraging him to go against the worthiness he possessed as God's image and reflection. Science and Health says, "The great truth in the Science of being, that the real man was, is, and ever shall be perfect, is incontrovertible; for if man is the image, reflection, of God, he is neither inverted nor subverted, but upright and Godlike" (p. 200).

A common expression put forth when someone upholds his or her integrity refers to reflection: "I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror the next morning." Knowing ourselves as God's offspring, we can claim the truth of our spiritual being and the wholeness that comes from knowing that our integrity is intact. We can claim that there is no suggestion outside of this purity that can tempt us, or that can tempt others. What might at first sound like wishful thinking or naiveté is something far more profound. Integrity is a quality of God, divine Mind, and it is ever active and healing. It calls anything unlike this Mind a sham – anything that involves cynicism, trickery, or plain old "looking the other way."

Shedding light on the places that accept dishonesty as business as usual reveals that there is nothing further from the truth. Honesty, not dishonesty, is the nature of the universe created by God. As the reflection of Mind, each of us can cherish that spiritual identity far more than any bank account, sports accolade, or government clout.

When we listen to the inner voice that says, "As for me, I will walk in mine integrity" (Ps. 26:11), we find that honesty isn't just the best policy. It's the only one.

Psalms 25:21