A valuable virtue
by susan dayley in

Ben Zoma, a second-century rabbinic sage who died young, wrote about some of the paradoxes of life:

Who are the wise? Those who learn from everyone.
Who are the strong? Those who conquer their own impulses.
Who are rich? Those who find contentment in their lot.
Who are esteemed? Those who esteem others.
(Pirkei Avot 4:1).

In the politics of today it seems that the qualities of true leaders are forgotten. Arrogance, pride, and a rejection of God’s word has led to a confusion of values. Wisdom is esteemed as being attained with a diploma. Strength is the power wielded by leverage. The accumulation of wealth justifies any betrayal. And those who are esteemed often seem to be merely masters at accumulating wealth and power. Integrity has become a lost virtue.

Integrity is defined as “wholeness; entireness; unbroken state.” In other words, a person will do and say as he believes to be right. His actions and words will be in line with his thoughts. A man who believes in certain values, even speaks according to his beliefs, but does not act on those beliefs becomes a divided man. The apostle James referred to such a man as double minded. He wrote, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8).

When an engineer speaks of the integrity of metal, he refers to properties that determines its strength. A beam that has lost its integrity can no longer support its intended weight. A man without integrity can not be trusted to fill his promises. He can not fulfill what God intended him for.

When a priest in ancient Jerusalem would go into the temple treasuries to obtain coin to purchase an animal for the daily sacrifices, he would wear a robe that contained neither cuffs in the sleeves, nor pockets. His actions were open for scrutiny and he must be held above reproach.

The same standard must be exacted of the leaders of our nation. The same standard must be exacted of ourselves.

Job prayed, “Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity” (Job 31:6).


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