The value and the purpose of living are in one’s integrity, existing for eternity. While everything should be treated as morning mist. A person’s integrity is different from his physical looks, whether blind or crippled. There are those wishing that their physical looks ought to have been better, but this has nothing to do with the person’s overbearing integrity. This was clarified by Jesus who declared:
“If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right-hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell”(Matthew 5:29-30 NIV).
The majority of people suffer from a crisis of identity. They do things according to the viewpoint of others, rather than themselves. They always seek the approval of others, rather than fulfilling their own dreams. Such people would be deficient in integrity when making judgments from the viewpoint of others.
This should not be construed as advocating for disagreements with other people, necessarily. There is nothing wrong with agreeing with other people, as long as the proffered information agrees with one’s own intellectual viewpoint. Each human should consider him/herself as a lost child of God.
Like a prodigal son, one should not seek to travel back to his Father via somebody else. The decision to go back to one’s father is made out of one’s free will. His decision to return to his father is made out of his personal integrity, which has got nothing to do with the viewpoint of other people.
If one is known to have done extremely bad things in this life and is not pretending to do better, that person’s integrity could be intact. Although this is different from someone who conducts such bad things, under the influence of others. God loves those who value their integrity, regardless of sinful conditions.
They may be despised by other people. But God has high consideration for such people. Hence some people get confused, when reading portions of scripture, like Jesus promising paradise to that thief on the cross, with Him. That thief had done nothing good, to deserve paradise with Christ, except that his dignity was intact.
“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.(Revelation 3:14-16 NIV).
The key phrase is; “I wish you were either one or the other!” (Verse 15). Jesus is focusing on the aspect of integrity, rather than sins committed, or not committed. All troubles of humanity are centred on the failure to understand this Scripture. Driven by self-centeredness, most people prefer wearing other people’s identities, rather than theirs.
The identity of a person is in God, rather than other people. The prognosis of any personality is preserved in himself. An honest person does not hide his wickedness, for instance. The corrupt people of the likes of the chief Tax collector Zacchaeus are safe, as long as exposing their wickedness.
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”(Luke 18:10-14 NIV).
The dividing line in-between is honesty. As long as portraying oneself as good, one would be dishonest. It cannot be possible for any person surviving in the physical flesh to access goodness. Even Jesus, as perfect as He was, refused to be called Good Master.
“And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life keep the commandments”(Matthew 16-17 KJV).
There are things that are consciously preserved and protected in this life. Besides human life, assets are cherished. But, the utmost worth is determined by wealth acquired through the fair exchange, where others benefitted. Without producing anything valued by others, one can as well be reduced to insignificance.
The majority of people project what does not represent themselves. They prefer projecting what they like others to view them as, rather than their true worth. They prefer projecting what they desire other people to view them as. They aim at getting favourable comments from their acquaintances and strangers alike.
Such a behaviour is self-deceptive and as dangerous as removing God from the picture. If uneducated, the person likes projecting himself as educated. If unhappy, the person likes to project himself as extremely happy. Such people may pretend to like another person, when inwardly, they writhe with hatred and anger, wishing the ‘liked’ person dead.
Honesty has got nothing to do with what other people do or consider one to be. This describes the dignity of a person, as projecting the true character. This helps others to know the strengths and weaknesses of the individual. The most amazing thing is that there are people who project themselves as rich when their character would be in abject poverty.
They can fool themselves and those around them when driving expensive cars, associated with the rich. The only problem is their inability to show any value provided to others, as generating the displayed wealth. And yet, wealth is possible, only when other people testify having received benefits from the same individual.
The benefits received by others could be in arts, music, or any other entertaining industry, like sport. The recreational services are as effective as tangible products are also effective. The person becomes wealthy when his output significantly benefits those who become willing to pay for what they consider to be valuable to them.
This is different from criminal wealth, whose origin is the exploitation of fellow humans. The dubiously acquired wealth makes one feel comfortable, among others of this world. The only problem is that, though, among the rich, one consciously knows that he does not belong there.
The person would be sustained by a borrowed fame, which may come to nought when his nefarious activities get exposed. Or, he may die with a scar in his conscience. While appearing as convenient, this behaviour is most expensive in human living. It robes the individual of his integrity.
A person can be robbed of all his possessions. But nothing surpasses being robbed of one’s integrity. There is no substitute for honesty, which led the most corrupt Chief tax Collector to unambiguously repent, after his encounter with Jesus. His honesty led him to be remorseful, rather than continue living in falsehoods.
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”(Luke 19:8 NIV).
Zacchaeus did not need to be told by anyone that he owed people anything. He was honest enough to declare what he considered to be fair, even promising to pay four times, those he had prejudiced. This displays a true character, valuing honesty, more than wealth.
It is possible to cheat other humans, concerning one’s integrity, but certainly not possible to cheat God. The secrets of an individual are known by the individual himself, similarly to how God knows them. As long as one is as honest as not hiding secrets, his integrity would be intact.
What upsets God, in this world, is pretence. The only people that Jesus lambasted the most, were the religious Pharisees. These were people who assumed that they were better than other people.
The most important datum to acquire is that one cannot be free when others are not free. In the early 1960s, Nelson Mandela was a lawyer. His general lifestyle could not be considered as having been worse than that of the uneducated people.
He got incarcerated by the apartheid regime. His integrity could not allow him to enjoy personal freedom when the majority of South African blacks were reeling under apartheid. He had to languish in Robin Island prison for twenty-seven years.
The only thing that motivated him to opt for such a difficult life, was his integrity. He may not have been a Christian, but his integrity was intact. There is no human being to talk about, whose integrity is nonexistent. The value of a human being is found in his integrity.
Out of ignorance, many people envy those driving expensive Lamborghinis. But, as long as acquired dubiously, the integrity of such people is deficient. The law of exchange demands that whatever accrues to an individual, would be matched with what would be given.
The redemption through Jesus is accessible only to honest people. Two reasons that could cause failure to appreciate this reality are (1) Self-centeredness, which describes a person who has high regard for himself. He measures himself against those he considers to be worse than him. This is typical of a Pharisee who went to pray, with a publican (Luke 18:10-14).
The second reason shows one receiving praises from other fellow humans. Ordinary Christians feel comfortable in their denominational enclave, according to doctrinal viewpoints of the denomination. The praises come from those in agreement with the person. They can make a person feel very comfortable, and assume that God would also be approving of the individual’s spirituality.
“How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?”(John 5:44 NIV).
The praises that come from fellow humans, serve only to cover and protect one’s dishonesty. This could be another reason why Jesus instructed his followers to love their enemies (Matthew 5:38-40). Unbeknown to many people is that the most cherished blessing in Christianity should be persecution, rather than praises from fellow humans.
There is truth in that your enemies are the ones who keep you aware of your dishonesty, helping you to change. The praises that come from friends serve only to harden one’s resolve to remain in the wrong trajectory. The way to God’s Kingdom requires honesty. An honest person truly loves his enemies, as serving to reveal his hidden secrets. Such enemies could be like the messenger of Satan that Paul talked about.
“Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say,or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:6-10 NIV).
God’s apostle delighted in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions and difficulties, rather than delighting in praises from men. For honesty to remain in a man, whatever it is that this world describes as unacceptable, should be treated as a blessing.
The enemies of an individual should be viewed as best friends, in keeping God’s servant honest. Friends and relatives can be the worst enemies, for God’s servants, as serving only to keep God’s servant under a delusion.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99