Integrity and Lepers

In a recent conversation with a gentleman-rancher of the church, our topic gravitated toward integrity, or lack thereof, in our day and time. We were both bemoaning the fact that, in the olden-days, deals were made on a handshake and honesty was the rule of thumb rather than a sleight of hand. During the discourse, however, he made a rather insightful statement that could serve as the consummate litmus test for integrity. He said, more or less: “Watch what a man does with another’s property when he’s not being watched.” Now, there’s a Bible lesson.

In the rocky days of disobedient kings, tragedy and circumstance often plagued the children of Israel as God offered opportunity after patient opportunity for them to return to Him. On one occasion, a miraculous scattering of an enemy army left a starving Israelite city with deserted camp full of supplies they were too busy hiding behind fortified walls to discover. Four lepers did, however, and ate, and drank and carried off as much as their emaciated bodies could bear, until they realized “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent” (2 Kings 7:9).

The excuses and rationalizations we use for doing privately what we would never do publically are legion. These lepers were… well, lepers. This unfortunate condition left them pariahs of society, despised, forcibly segregated, totally dependent upon charity for sustenance, and who can quantify the embarrassment of such a visually repugnant disease. What could they possibly “owe” their society? Yet still, unseen by others, they had integrity.

Whatever the motivation, integrity is an attribute truly tried and verified by anonymity. What a Christian steward does with God’s good gifts of time and blessings when no one is watching is a true measure of a person’s integrity. And, know this: one day the all-seeing eye of God will bring into account every word and every deed (cf. Matthew 12:36; 2 Corinthians 5:10). The lesson from these lepers is: Have Some… integrity, that is.