Lessons in integrity

A pleasant memory from my childhood is those seed catalogs that came in early spring. They were emblazoned with full-color photographs of vegetable gardens so realistic they fairly burst from the pages. Even while I ordered packs of seeds each year to peddle about the neighborhood, I was planning how to spend my meager profits.

The real profits, though, were in character growth. Idleness, I learned, didn't sell seeds. Procrastination didn't meet deadlines. But patience and perseverance paid off.

Most of all, I learned about integrity. Once I received those seed packs, I knew I had a moral obligation to send the company the correct amount of money for what I had sold and return the seeds I hadn't sold. The commandment ''Thou shalt not steal'' n1 was the moral law that told me it would be dishonest to keep seeds or money that didn't belong to me.

So, it was rather disconcerting to read in the newspaper recently why the American Seed Company had gone out of business. Apparently, many youngsters today are not as strict in obeying the basic rules of business. As increasing numbers of them kept both money and seeds, the company found it more and more difficult to operate -- and finally decided to close.

n1 Exodus 20:15.

Christian Science teaches that the living of moral qualities is requisite to the understanding and demonstration of our actual, spiritual identity, which is indestructible and perfect, made in God's image. Integrity, for instance, is as much a God-given quality as health. And both are indispensable to our well-being. In fact, our health is related to our integrity and can't really be maintained without it. Both are expressions of our soundness and wholeness as God's spiritual, perfect man. Without integrity we separate ourselves from the consciousness of God's presence and from the infinite good and perfect health He forever expresses in man.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, is emphatic on the importance of morality. ''The entire education of children,'' she writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,m ''should be such as to form habits of obedience to the moral and spiritual law, with which the child can meet and master the belief in so-called physical laws, a belief which breeds disease.'' n2

n2 Science and Health, p. 62.

The life of Christ Jesus is a lesson in integrity for all of us. He demonstrated his teachings by his actions, by his honesty, purity, love, and obedience to God. It would have been impossible for Jesus to heal others or to crown his earthly experience with resurrection and ascension if he had in any way broken a moral law.

The well-known Golden Rule in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount is at the very heart of integrity: ''All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.'' n3

n3 Matthew 7:12.

Christian Science shows us the naturalness of expressing integrity because this Science reveals God as the one true Mind and man as His image, His spiritual idea. In reality, then, man is not a self-serving mortal, floundering about in a material universe, fighting friend and foe to survive. Man is the whole and upright reflection of God's nature.

As we awake to our true identity, we'll increasingly respect moral law and joyfully obey it down to the smallest detail of our lives. It will be our nature to live the Golden Rule. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me. . . . My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart. Psalms 7:8, 10

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