The Jayson Blair fiasco has raised a number of issues, honesty not the least of them; igniting debates concerning affirmative action, truthfulness in reporting and accountability in the work place. This in turn has cast him as a representative of society's lack of integrity.

Jayson was caught trying to be something he wasn't, or being too lazy to be all he could. He himself said, "I fooled some of the most brilliant people in journalism." Subsequent revelations concerning even more established reporters using material gathered by others yet claimed as their own and "on the scene" stories written and reported from miles away, expose a problem with honesty in an industry that promotes itself as the one place we can all go to get objective, unbiased, truthful information.

This brings us back to the issue of integrity; defined by Webster's Dictionary as encompassing the qualities of honesty, sincerity and honorableness; developing in a person the ability to recognize right and wrong. The qualities of a strong character, a distinctive personality exercising self-discipline and moral strength precedes them. Those with integrity become known for their consistent lifestyle, not changing according to the circumstances they find themselves in or as a result of the company they keep. They stand strong and true to their convictions regardless of pressure exerted to make them reflect the prevailing attitudes of the moment. They are people who know who they are, what they believe and why they believe it. That, at least in part, is integrity, which demands that we say what we mean and do what we say - EVERY TIME; that we believe in a cause and speak out for a standard greater than our own - ALL THE TIME; that we be constant in our attitude toward and treatment of others - ALWAYS. Thus becoming people who can be trusted, even when disagreements arise, to be who they profess to be; respectful and deserving of respect.

Integrity is the backbone of society. It sets standards that, even if only a few follow, gives stability to society as a whole. As they consistently strive and occasionally stumble in their attempt to live by a higher calling, they inspire others to follow their example and achieve more. Integrity can't be imposed but challenges us as individuals to be more than we presently are, to do better than we've done before; to work harder and serve longer. It demands that we take ourselves seriously, practice our faith publicly and live ethically.

Have you ever been disappointed by someone you thought you could depend on or been a disappointment to those depending on you? What caused that failure? Peer pressure, the strain of being different, anger, careless joy, challenges to our faith and faithfulness - life. If alive, you will be challenged and questioned. If we try, we will sometimes fail. The difference being whether we learn from our mistakes and try again.

What does God have to say concerning integrity? More specifically he defines the lack of it as being double-minded; saying one thing, dong another, being indecisive and doubtful when the situation calls for bold, straight-forward action. David declared, "I hate double-minded men,..." Psalm 119:113, which I believe expresses God's feelings as well. (Revelation 3:14-16) But why would God feel that strongly about how I act and respond? Because as a Christian we represent him to all we come in contact with. Someone's first and possibly only impression of him may be what they see in us; and God is not unreliable, unpredictable or untrustworthy!

James explains that the man who is doubtful and erratic in his lifestyle, not positive in his portrayal of Christ and unreliable in his witness to others is, "…like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind." He is here and there, believing one thing then another, handling problems first this way then that way. "...he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does." James 1:6-8 Which kind of person will you choose to be? For a key to Christian integrity is preparation and desire to be different. (See Romans 12:2) Paul encourages us to, "…put on the full armor of God, (which is the Word and the attributes which flow from it) so that when the day of evil comes, (or trials, hardship, temptation - life!) you may be able to stand your ground,..." Ephesians 6:13 Triumphantly, steadfast in who you are and what God calls you to be; which is the real definition of success.

How do we do that? There are so many issues confronting us in the "real" world. Does the Bible effectively relate to this day and age, addressing the situations we find ourselves in? Some really practical advice for Christian living - integrity - can be found in Matthew 5, 6, & 7, dealing with our attitudes toward others and God, our involvement with our fellow men and God's expectations of us as the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Murder, of both body and spirit is addressed as is adultery, divorce, legal agreements and the value of our word; retribution and revenge, love and lust, giving and prayer are dealt with as well. Establishing a savings plan for the here-and-now and the here-after, worry, the difference between being judgmental and discerning, seeking God and faithfulness are mentioned too. Does that about cover your life?

Add to that Romans 12:9-21, which exhorts us to love sincerely, hating evil always; to cling to good-grasping it with both hands, making it a part of who we are. We are told to be devoted to family and friends as well as our calling in Christ; treating others honorably. Encouraged to be zealous, not jealous; we will remain excited about serving. Joyfulness, patience, faithfulness, generosity and graciousness are trademarks of a mature Christian.

We are more specifically told to bless those who curse and persecute us for being who we are; to simply rejoice with the happy, mourn with the sad - even as it makes us vulnerable to advantage-taking when we open up so to others. We must live harmoniously with all people, not falling victim to pride and conceit; never seeking revenge but overcoming evil with good, living peaceably with everyone.

So how do we develop confidence in who we are and what we are asked to do? KNOW THE MATERIAL - whether it be in your studies for a monetary career or your career as a Christian. A person of integrity responds well because they know what's right and do it to the best of their ability at all times.