Thursday, February 18, 2010

To Be Perfect

What does it mean to have integrity? The dictionary defines integrity as “wholeness; incorruptness; honesty; uprightness; moral soundness or purity.”[1] In the scriptures the Greek word meaning whole or complete is often translated as “perfect”: as in Matthew 5:48 - “be ye therefore, perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven in perfect.” In Genesis, we are told that “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations…”[2] The Hebrew word translated as “perfect” in this case also meant whole, complete, or having integrity. Noah, therefore, was a man of integrity. The founders warned us that to maintain our freedoms we would need to elect men of virtue and integrity. But how does one have integrity?

As I have been pondering this question for quite some time, God gave me the answer by challenging my own integrity. Last spring my husband and I were reviewing our financial situation and came to the realization that we needed to make some drastic changes. We could not “afford” to stay in our “big, fancy house” and provide for our retirement or our children’s futures. We were house poor and knew we needed to downsize. We decided to take out our retirement fund and purchase a house in cash. We knew that in doing so we would have to pay penalties and taxes on the money we withdrew, but over the long run, this would be a better option for our family. Well…little did we know that in the end the government would end up taking over half of our money! I have to say that it has been quite tempting to just “not report” our withdrawal. After all, we probably would never be audited and we could keep our hard-earned money.

But, herein, lies the test of integrity. Will I be honest even if it costs me thousands of dollars? Will I do what is right, no matter what? It isn’t fair that I have to work long, hard hours to pay for someone else who chooses not to work. It isn’t fair that I have to give my money to pay for things that are against my morals and beliefs. It is unjust that “the rich” have to pay a higher percentage of tax than "the poor." It is unjust that some pay no taxes at all. Our tax system is unfair and unjust, but it is the law. If I am to be a person of integrity, then I will have to pay. And to be perfect I will have to pay without complaining…I guess I still have a long way to go!

[1] Webster, Noah, American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828
[2] Genesis 6:9


  1. Of course you will do what is right! But where does it say we can't complain again? :)

  2. Well...I can't really picture Christ complaining about anything. Now that doesn't mean that He didn't DO anything about what he didn't like, but He never murmured about it. I fully intend to work hard at repealing the 16th amendment. :o)

  3. I once heard that the definition of integrity is doing what is right even if no one is looking (or auditing). I'm glad you had integrity.