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“Trapping the Ball!” Psalm 25: 16-21 Key verse(s): 21 “May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.”

Integrity! Perhaps it is one of the loneliest words in the English language. For many it creates the image of one standing alone, apart from the others, because just the thought of being totally honest raises images in the mind of one who is self-effacing, willing to sacrifice all for the sake of one, and truly capable of withstanding when others don’t. It’s the picture of the outsider, the loner, the odd-man-out. Why? Because being totally honest may be a virtue but it is seldom seen as being very practical or efficient. Totally honest people, or so our culture teaches, tend to be naive, socially clumsy, and impractical. They aren’t winners; that’s for sure.

In his book, “Tender Loving Heart”, James K. Krames writes, “There was a young Christian man in a southern university. He made the football team as the starting split end. And he continually was before God saying, ‘Help me in the climax o moments to be absolutely honest. I pray for honesty--that one mark of integrity. I want to be that, Lord, and I’ll work on it through the season.’

The rival team came that night, homecoming. He ran his route and went into the end zone. The quarterback shot him the pass and he got it low. He landed on it, and the referee shouted, ‘Touchdown!’ But that boy knew he had trapped the ball. (for you who aren’t into that, it means that he didn’t really catch it.) The stands were just cheering, you know, sending him on his way, the hero of the game. He said, ‘Wait a minute.’ Can you imagine this? Walked up to the referee and shook his head. He said, ‘I trapped it.’ The referee canceled the touchdown and they lost the game.

Now you may not understand much about football, but you know what it is to be a fan. And that boy stood all alone, not only against a team that said, ‘What does it matter, man?’ but against the stands full of people. He said, ‘I can’t take the credit. I did not catch it.’” (James K. Krames, “Tender Loving Heart,” Living Free) 

God made us to be social people. We like to be surrounded by those who like what we do and how we do it. The thought of isolation from others because of who we are or what we have done is repugnant. Frankly, we will do just about anything to be accepted by our peers. But, when it comes to integrity, there will come a time in every person’s life when the temptation to be one of a group must take second place to the prerequisite to be standing on the side of honesty and truth. The fans in those stands didn’t really care about the fact that a young man chose to be honest rather than famous. They cared only about winning. The rationalization being that honesty may be the best policy, but winning is more fun, more fulfilling. One can only imagine how different that young man’s act of honesty may have been received if those stands had been filled with Washington’s and Jefferson’s. Perhaps they would have streamed out on to the field, lifted him high on their shoulders and given him the victor’s ride around the stadium. In the world we live in today, that is an unlikely scenario. Nevertheless, it is good for each one of us to be reminded that our “protection” is not in the love of our peers. Rather, our “protection” is in the “hope” we have in God. In that case we never stand alone.

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