Today, I thought that I would write today about living a life of integrity. What does that mean? Living a life of integrity? It means different thinking to different people. On a general level it can be defined as a firm adherence to a code of moral values (see Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary).
And as President James E. Faust puts it. "It connotes soundness and incorruptibility. It is the mother of many virtues. It begins when we deal justly with ourselves." (1982 April General Conference, Integrity, the Mother of Many Virtues, Sun. Morning Session - James E. Faust)
It is a virtue that the world seeks in people. It's a value that goes deeper than just being honest in your life. Whether within the gospel or within our everyday lives, we need to appreciate the need to incorporate that mother of all virtues into out lives for others, ourselves and our Father in Heaven.
Elder Richard G. Scott said the following:
The bedrock of character is integrity. (And a) worthy character will strengthen your capacity to recognize the direction of the Spirit and to be obedient to it. Your consistent exercise of faith builds strong character. A secure foundation for your growing character is laid by making Jesus Christ and His teachings the center of your life.
Richard G. Scott - The Transforming Power of Faith and Character, Oct 2010
Integrity is something that is needed for us to live a life that is worthy and directed by the Spirit. And the laying of that essential integrity is faith in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
So now that we have looked why this is important, let's look at some doctirine about integrity.
President Faust continues:
Integrity is the value we set on ourselves. It is a fulfillment of the duty we owe ourselves. An honorable man or woman will personally commit to live up to certain self-imposed expectations. They need no outside check or control. They are honorable in their inner core.
Where does the soul play its part best? Is it in outward show? Or is it within, where no mortal eyes can penetrate and where we have an inner defense against the tragedies of life?
Integrity is the light that shines from a disciplined conscience. It is the strength of duty within us.
James E. Faust - Integrity, the Mother of Many Virtues, April 1982
Integrity is not only that outward action of living the tenets of the gospel, but it is also that inner struggle we have to put of the natural man within us. That we can become one with our Father in Heaven within our souls as well as out outward actions. This doesn't mean that displaying the outward actions of a gospel centred life comes from a life fallacy. When we follow the commandments of the gospel, it has come at some stage from within us and is being shown on the outside. But one of the true displays of integrity is when we live a life of exact obedience in every aspect of our life, even when no one is watching.
As President Faust said, Integrity is the light that shines from a disciplined conscience. When we have developed the virtue of integrity, it really shines in us.
As a missionary, comments would often come from those we were teaching, like: You two just seem so happy. You just look different. It seems like what you are sharing is important. These things were quite often mentioned to us and I know that it is because of our constant effort to develop integrity and live the gospel of Jesus Christ 100% of the time. Although we do not have that prophetic calling to preach the gospel, we still have that prophetic instruction to share it with those around us. I know that as we do our best to live the gospel in all situations in our lives, those around us will see it and new opportunities to share the gospel will arise.
One fantastic example of integrity was Joseph Smith. As a teenager, Joseph Smith wanted to know the truth concerning his Father in Heaven and wanted to know which direction to go. In his search for truth, he found himself praying in a grove of tree and had a marvellous spiritual experience where he met God and His Son Jesus Christ. He describes the experience as such:
I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. … When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
Joseph Smith—History 1
At the time, Joseph was laughed at for being a delusional young kid, claiming that he had seen God and received revelation. But he showed integrity, doing what he needed to do alone and then standing up to the multitudes and declaring his bold and true testimony. He remarked about his own integrity:
So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.
Joseph was sound and incorruptible, right up to his martyrdom in the Carthage Jail.
In Ezekiel it reads:
But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right, …
And hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment; …
Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord God.
Ezekiel. 18:5, 7, 9
As we live out lives full of integrity, we surely will live together in the eternities with our Father in Heaven. I know this to be true.
President Faust winds up his comments by saying:
God help us to be honest and true. May we always be thoroughly dependable, standing firm and upright though others may fail, and be fearless, constant, and just. May we say with the much-tested Job: “Till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.” (Job 27:5.)
I know that as we do our best to live a life of integrity, we will be happier with ourselves. We can get to a point where we feel comfortable with ourselves and then we can truly grow as we learn of ourselves on a deeper lever. I encourage everyone to find ways to live with more integrity, you will be glad that you did!
PS. Part 2 of my thoughts on sacrifice are still in the works