Superficial Honesty
I read some time ago about a man in California who went through a fast food drive up window and ordered a bucket of chicken. He and his companion then drove to a nearby park for a picnic--just the two of them. As they sat down to eat, they were surprised to find that the bucket wasn't full of chicken but money! Without hesitating, they quickly returned the money to the restaurant. It turns out that the manager used that bucket to hide large sums of money to minimize potential loss in a robbery, and that it had mistakenly got mixed-up.

The manager was elated and surprised to see the money returned. He told the couple: "Please stick around. I want to call the newspaper and have them take your picture. You're the most honest folks in town!" The man protested the idea of such publicity. When the manager pressed him for a reason, he ashamedly admitted, "Well, I'm married, but the woman I'm with is not my wife."

That's a wonderful story with such a sad ending, is it not? Think of the potential influence for good that was squandered in this situation! The manager was wrong in his assessment of them being "the most honest folks in town." Their integrity was corrupt! It is good to be honest with money, but it is likewise good to be honest with one's spouse. The man would not think of keeping money that was not his, but why was he willing to be with a woman (in an intimate context) who was not his? As I Corinthians 7:4 teaches, he belonged to someone else. It was not appropriate for him to be with this other woman on a date, as it were.

It is easy to imagine how this situation could have ended badly in a different way had the couple actually been married and then, after discovering the money, decided to keep it for themselves. This too would have been dishonest, though in a different way.

Friends, what about you? Are you honest to the core or only in certain areas? It is impossible to list every situation you might one day find yourself in, but we can use our imaginations. If there was no threat of being caught, would you be a person of integrity if you had the opportunity...

May we always remember Proverbs 11:3, which states - "The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them." If you obey God, you will be blessed; if you disobey, you will be cursed (cf. Deut. 28). We must strive to be people of integrity and not just honest superficially. We must be faithful in all ways (cf. Rom. 2:21-24)! It's the best way to live, and it will lead to the most joy. "The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him" (Prov. 20:7).

After Job's possessions were taken and his children slain, God said to Satan in Job 2:3 - "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause." Job is a great model of fidelity in adversity. He is worthy of imitation.

Dear listeners, if your integrity has been corrupted in some way, repent from the heart and change your life. The Lord knows your faults even if others do not. It's not too late to get right with Him!