My husband came home after a visit to a tax consultant. We had already figured our income tax for that year and found that we owed a lot. We had decided to consult a tax preparer to see if we were missing any deductions. He looked over our figures and noted that the expenses were quite low. We had a small business, and my husband worked hard to keep expenses down, doing much of the work himself.
The tax consultant said that the only thing he could see to do was to pad the expenses, adding a lot of telephone calls from a pay phone, for instance. I'm not sure that he was recommending such dishonesty, but it did hang out there as a temptation.
That evening we went to a talk, as we had planned. The speaker pointed out that it was really our mental and moral condition that enabled us to have what we needed. "When you go to one of those wonderful, large supermarkets" she was from a country where they did not have such large stores "what is it that enables you to pay for all those things that you take from the shelves and put in your basket?" Then, she answered her question, "Gratitude. And what is it that pays your taxes?" My husband and I listened intently. "It is integrity that pays your taxes."
That was all we needed to hear to decide to turn in our honest tax return. I don't know how we worked out paying the large amount that was due, but we did. I don't recall having trouble paying our taxes after that. What I do remember is the great lesson in the value of integrity. Over the years, I have come to see that, while integrity is expressed as honesty in human affairs, integrity itself includes much, much more. It not only affects our human behavior, but it relates to our relationship with God.
Perhaps many of us at times have found that telling a lie has in a way interrupted our sense of closeness to our creator. We may even feel that we want to hide from Him, and we temporarily lose our confidence in prayer. A couple of Bible verses from the book of Psalms in the Hebrew Gospel present the scope and value of integrity. "Judge me, O Lord; for I have walked in my integrity: I have trusted also in the Lord; therefore I shall not slide" (Ps. 26:1). Also, "Let integrity and uprightness preserve me" (Ps. 25:21).
Integer, the root of the word integrity, means whole and complete. Expressing integrity, then, is essentially recognizing our true, spiritual selfhood, in which there is nothing lacking. No wonder the Psalmist could sing that integrity preserved him preserved all of him. Such integrity preserves us from temptations of dishonesty, as it reveals our identity as the man or woman of God's creating. We can say that integrity not only controls our actions but also defines who we are.
Mary Baker Eddy, in her textbook on Christian Science, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," notes the power of honesty and the loss of this power through dishonesty. She also notes the importance of committing one's life to finding and serving the God that is Truth itself. "Evasion of Truth cripples integrity, and casts thee down from the pinnacle" (pg. 448). The pinnacle of perfection is where the spiritual man of God's creation exists.
As integer implies, each one of us is a complete entity. Reasoning out from this fact, we live more satisfying lives. As noted, integrity does much more than make us honest taxpayers; it can even make us willing taxpayers!
A growing understanding of the full meaning of integrity gives us a better understanding of our true identity as a representation of God on earth. Science and Health states, "Man is God's reflection, needing no cultivation, but ever beautiful and complete" (pg. 527). This awareness of our integrity our completeness touches each detail of our lives. It keeps us from sliding down the slippery slope of compromise. It is God's way of preserving us.
of the upright
shall guide them.