Summary: It defines integrity and then uses Samuel verses the sons of Eli as examples of what integrity is and isn’t.
Sunday, October 27, 2002
I have been here one year and two-thirds. That’s hard to believe. One of the hard decisions we made when we first came was to decide how to live. We knew the two options were to rent or to buy, so we thought we’d get to know the area and shop around for a place. The thought of moving twice was very unappealing to me. Also, the thought of having to pay rent for an apartment as well as a storage area besides having six people crammed into a little apartment was also not appealing. So we went on this whirlwind tour of places, and we came upon the house that we actually bought. Impressive to me was not simply the inspector’s report, although I think that’s really important, in which he said the fundamentals were excellent, but I was also impressed by how finished the house looked. I had just finished remodeling every room in our other home, and I was tired of painting and plastering and putting flooring down. I wanted to find a house that was just right for my children because you know little children will ruin things. I wanted them to feel welcome in the house and be able to play as children and not worry about something getting damaged, but I also wanted the house to be done enough so that I wouldn’t have to paint, paper and fix every room.
When I first walked into our home, the lights were all on and it looked beautiful–it was impressive. Then we moved in, and when the lights weren’t turned on and as we began to live in the house, we realized something–everything was just for show. The hand railing that was nicely painted had only just recently been painted and after a couple of times down the stairs, the paint came off. Most of the baseboards were not nailed down, they were simply newly painted and were laying flush up against the walls. The wallpaper actually had curled in every room but they super-glued it down, and after they left, it came unglued. The pictures on their walls had made the rooms look wonderful, but they had been hiding holes and tears in the wallpaper. Some of the rugs were discolored and when you moved the furniture, you discovered those spots. Most of the doors needed repainting because they had just slapped on a fast coat, and when the lights were off, you found that two-thirds of the door wasn’t painted. When you turned the lights on, the paint reflected the light and it looked beautiful.
The claim of “move-in condition” did not fit the reality of our experience. You could say, then, that our house lacked integrity, not structural integrity, but the integrity of the statement “move-in condition.”
This is what I want to talk about–the image of integrity. The Biblical image is the image of the scales. If you have been to the grocery store, you’ve probably looked at a can of beans or a bag of lettuce that says 16 oz. If you are interested sometimes you throw it on the scale and notice that it is 13 oz. It doesn’t match the claim. Exxon had a problem with this. They filled up gas tankers full of gas which is about 30,000 gallons, and when the gas was delivered to the gas stations, only 25,000 gallons came out and they couldn’t figure out why. They discovered they had filled the tank when the gasoline was warm and when it cooled down, it didn’t fill the entire tank. It lacked integrity. The amount on the one side did not match the claim on the other side.
It’s like the old cliché–what’s heavier, a pound of feathers or a pound of bricks? Of course, they’re both the same. That’s what integrity is–the claim fits the reality. We use this term to describe our cars. My car looks like it’s good and it’s full of steel. Under the paint, is there rust or is the car sound? We can use this to describe trees. The tree looks healthy, but it is only really healthy if it healthy in the roots, the trunk, the branches and the fruit. This can also describe our lives. Does the claim of our faith fit the reality of our lives? Does our profession match our behavior, or are our lives like my house. It looks good for those who are acquaintances and who simply pass by. We look good in church but if someone were to live with us and really get to know us, would what they find speak of integrity, that the claim matches the reality, or is there repair work that needs to be done. Do our lives have integrity?