This morning I read an article about fraud and the government assistance programs during COVID 19. The federal government launched the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) in March. It was for anyone suffering job loss or an immediate negative impact from the economic shutdown. It provides $2000/month for four months. So far the government processed 11 million applications with over 30 Billion being paid out. However, there are signs that some applications lack honesty. In fact, the government has directed its officers to approve applications and clean up the questionable ones later.
This is just one example of the challenges to integrity during this time. Schools, Colleges and Universities have had to address the reality of cheating in online schooling. Many have decided to only issue a pass or fail grade for courses rather than a number or letter grade. This has the potential of demotivating those who still want to try to do their best in a course. University and College students can get a 1250$ monthly benefit for the summer months because of the lack of jobs for summer students. But it may also tempt some to take the benefit and still work “under the table” with no declaration or record of their earnings.
So how can we maintain our integrity through such a time as this? In Second Corinthians, the apostle Paul addresses accusations that he had compromised his integrity. Some in the church accused him of not keeping his word and wavering in his character. Paul sensed that such an attack went beyond him to the very gospel message. A tainted messenger could taint the message.
So he defends his integrity. But he does not depend solely on his own actions and words. He grounds his integrity in God.
2 Corinthians 1:12
“For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely toward you.”
He claims that he and his ministry team acted with simplicity. There were no hidden motives or double talk. They acted in godly sincerity. They were sincere in a way that depended on God. Most importantly, they behave “by the grace of God.” Paul did not claim perfection for himself. Yet he did claim empowerment by God’s grace to live an integral life.
From this, we can learn an important piece of maintaining integrity during this time. We must check our motives with God. We must test our decisions and actions with God’s eyes. Then, regardless of what everyone else may be doing, we can gain confidence that our choices pass the highest test.
“O God, during this time, it is easy to justify cutting corners. Since so much is abnormal, we can assume the same applies to making honest decisions. But Jesus never took a break from integrity because His life got hard and he could use a break. We know we will never attain to his standard, yet you will empower us towards it. Help us to maintain integrity in your eyes today.”