A great deal is being written and talked about these days concerning the word integrity. Defined as "soundness, genuineness or upright honesty," integrity is essential to our gospel understanding and progression.
Within the wider definition of the word is implied perfection, or having sound moral principles.Perhaps no one typifies integrity in the Old Testament as much as Job. He said: "My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit. God forbid that I should justify you; till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live . . . for what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?" (Job 27:4-8)
Integrity involves two things: Choosing standards of behavior that we know are right; and holding to those standards with unyielding fidelity.
It is keeping the course we have chosen no matter how furiously the storm beats in our face or how seductive the influences are that tempt us to depart from it.
The psalmist pleaded: "Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24.)
In attempting to teach the young people of his ward the value of choosing the right principles, one bishop focused in on their wardrobes.
He told them of an interview he had had recently with a young woman who desired to serve a mission. She had several problems she wished to clear up, the bishop said. However, he explained, he realized that her attire did not match her desire to change her ways. The young woman insisted she was living the gospel, but she dressed as if she was going to the beach - even arriving at the bishop's office for her interviews in skin-tight shorts and skimpy tops.
The bishop then asked the youth to look at their own attire. Some of their shirts sported logos of liquor companies or pictures of heavy metal musicians. Some shirt designs stretched the limits of good taste. The young people's dress had a direct effect on their reverence and their relationships with their leaders, the bishop reminded them. The youth loudly entered the church building on activity nights talking flippantly and making rude remarks to the adults present, the bishop observed. Some of their clothing was more appropriate for gym class than for a Church meeting.
The bishop counseled his young people to dress more modestly and more appropriately for their surroundings. He urged them to remember who they are and what they represent, and to put nothing on their bodies that would degrade themselves, their families or the Church. He reminded them that what they wear does make a difference in their attitudes about themselves and how they are treated by others.
President Joseph F. Smith counseled, "Let us return to individual and national integrity, love of God and country, be honest in our dealings with each other, virtuous in our lives. Here lies the only road to happiness and peace." (Doctrines of Salvation 3:274.)
Peace of mind comes by maintaining our integrity. The story is told of an intinerent ranch hand who applied for work and offered as a recommendation only this statement: "I can sleep when the wind blows." On the surface it seems a strange remark, but the owner of the ranch needed help badly and hired the man.
A few nights later a terrific storm swept across the prairie. The owner, awakened by it, hurried out to help the new hand. He found the windmill set to ride the storm; he found the gates lashed with extra rope, the canvas tied securely over the stacks of wood and staked down.
The farmer, fighting his way in the storm, reached the bunkhouse and discovered his hired man sound asleep.
When the storms come, no matter how furiously they may beat upon your roof, if everything outside is secure, an indescribable peace will fill your heart. (Bryant S. Hinckley, Not By Bread Alone, pg. 111.)
"And again, verily I say unto you . . . I, the Lord, love him because of the integrity of his heart, and because he loveth that which is right before me. . . ." (D&C 124:15)