Integrity was the subject for the day. The professor, a WWII vet, spoke with authority, as 17 midshipmen listened in a small classroom. The Vietnam War was raging. In four months these men would graduate and be in that war—practice would become real. I cannot remember the prof’s name, but I do remember his advice: “Always have some ‘GTH Truth Money’ saved. It will ensure your integrity.’”
“What?” Seventeen pairs of eyes gawked incomprehensibly. “What does that mean?”
“Men,” the prof explained, “the Navy relies on integrity. Integrity is truth, embodied in a man in all circumstances—good or bad. Your commanding officer needs the truth from you, even if it is distasteful to him, unwanted by him, or harmful to yourself. You cannot give him that truth, if you have no money in the bank—no emergency fund. If you are deeply in debt, it will adversely affect your integrity. Financial pressure affects judgment, bends the truth, and silences the tongue when it ought to speak. I call that emergency fund my GTH Truth Money.”
That advice was good then and it is good today. There is a link between integrity and financial pressure. While I won’t go as far as that prof to say an emergency savings fund will ensure integrity, it will help pave the way for it.
We live in a world filled with financial pressure: pressure to buy a too big house, a too fast car, a too expensive dress, an overpriced boat. Advertisements say, “You can buy it … the bank will finance it … your credit card will pay for it … the monthly payment is affordable—don’t put off enjoyment for tomorrow, when you can have it today!” But there is an unseen price tag: Your integrity is challenged.
You may think, “This is no a big deal. It can’t affect me.” Let me give you some examples.
Prior to WWII, Lutheran pastors in Germany, paid by the state, tolerated Hitler’s gradual destruction of the German Church because they could not risk losing their paycheck from the National Socialists. They had no GTH Truth Money saved. They lost their integrity because of it. Germany lost the influence that Christ’s church could have wielded.
Jeremy, a pastor with immense potential, managed his money poorly, got into debt, and had no emergency fund. Conveniently, he began to forget which pocket the church’s money went in and which one held his own. His judgment was affected by pressure to feed his family. He lost his job, borrowed more heavily, and walked away destroying his integrity and his Christian witness.
Nelson, a solid Christian businessman, made lots of money but spent it as fast as it came in, never setting aside a GTH Truth Money fund. The inevitable downturn came. The choice became, “Do the right thing and hurt my family, or do the wrong thing and survive?” He was stuck in a conflict-of-interest dilemma that few could survive. Nelson chose wrongly and his reputation has suffered and may never recover. His integrity is shot.
What about you? Do you have GTH Truth Money? Do you want to be a Christian with integrity? If so, ask yourself, “Am I financially secure enough to speak truthfully, act properly, and walk uprightly?” Plan for integrity. Establish a GTH Truth Money fund, and before you buy that next “must have” thing on credit, ask yourself, “Will this purchase compromise my ability to be a godly man or woman of integrity?”
“Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool” (Proverbs 19:1).