Oswald Chambers says, "My worth to God in public is what I am in private." Sounds closely related to integrity. Integrity, by definition, is...the quality of being honest and having strong, moral principles. Doing the right thing in a reliable way. I've always liked to define integrity as who you are when everyone's looking and what you do when no one's looking. Integrity is not about a feeling; it's about rightness. It's a matter of character. Are you a person of integrity? It's a choice. And today, I had a choice. Here's the story...my wife Jennifer took our 4 1/2 yr. old Golden Retriever to the vet this morning. Belle could hardly put any weight on her left foot this morning when she walked. She apparently played to hard this past weekend with her friend and fellow Golden, Crash. Belle has a bum shoulder, and it looked like she aggravated it. So we made the appointment with the vet; and Jennifer took her. $136.50 later, Belle came home with two medicines to help pain and inflammation and instructions to take it easy for a week or so. That total was interesting...because not long after my wife had shared with me the cost of the vet visit, I checked our online banking account. The debit transaction was only $36.50. Something wasn't right, so when I came home for lunch, I asked Jennifer to see the receipt. She immediately noticed that the debit card transaction had been run for the amount of $36.50, $100 less than the actual bill. The vet receipt had credited us with payment in full but processed on a small portion of that. My wife immediately said, "I need to call them and let them know. That's not right." My wife was right in her assessment. Sometimes I hate it when that happens. Nonetheless, she was. Honestly? Part of me didn't want to call. They made the mistake, and they'll never no it if we don't call. They'll never miss that $100. Of course I never said any of this out loud to my wife; but an internal battle was going on inside my head and in my heart. So I picked up the phone and called. Honestly, I hoped the conversation would go something like this..."Mr. Woods, thank you for calling and letting us know. We're so sorry for our mistake. Because of your honesty and integrity, we're not going charge you the remainder of the bill. Have a nice day." But that's not how it went. There was no offer of rescinding the $100. There was no consideration of foregoing payment of the remainder of the bill because I did the right thing. There was a "hold on a minute" moment, then a request for my payment information - which I reluctantly gave. Then a simple thank you and goodbye.
I would like to tell you that I felt great for doing the right thing. But I didn't feel great. I hung up wanting my $100 back. I felt ticked that they didn't offer me some sort of "reward" or expression of appreciation for doing the right thing when I could've done nothing, kept the $100, and kept the information to myself. It's a good thing I didn't make my decision based on my emotions. If I had, I wouldn't have done the right thing. I would've done nothing. But I took the decades-old advice of Dr, James Dobson found in the title of one of his earliest works, a book entitled "Emotions: Can You Trust Them?" The obvious answer...no. No you can't. You can't trust your emotions...ever. What can you trust? Well, for me, as a Christ-follower, I trust God's Word, the Bible. It is the reliable source of truth that guides my life. And in the truth found in 1 Samuel 2:30b, God says this: "...those who honor Me, I will honor." And when I choose integrity, I choose to honor God. And that is how I want to live and be known.
How about you? Are you a person of integrity? Do you practice honesty and moral rightness in public? In private? When everyone sees and when no one sees? When its easy and when its difficult? Honesty is truly the best policy. And being a person of integrity - that's a choice you'll never regret. And that's the honest to goodness truth...honestly!