It was 2:30 pm. In an ideal world, at 2:30 pm, I’m at home, under my electric blanket, snuggling with my stuffed bunny rabbit, Jessie, and my puppy, Coco. I get up early and I go to bed late, so I take an afternoon siesta almost every day. Well, if I’m honest, every day. It’s what I do.
But on this Tuesday at 2:30 pm I was not at home. I was not warm, under the covers, cuddled up with my fluffy friends. I was at the garage. Getting my car inspected. I didn’t have to be there. I was there because I was doing what is right.
I kissed my minivan goodbye back in the spring and bought a used car. The license tag was transferred from my van to the new car, but there was a snafu in the process. Before I knew it, I was driving my car around town with an expired tag, and I had been for a couple of months. I’m surprised I didn’t get pulled!
In order to get a new tag, I needed my registration, my insurance information, and my inspection. When I called the dealership to get a copy of the inspection documentation, I learned that a ball got dropped and my car wasn’t inspected before I bought it. Ooops.
The sweet guy on the phone, we’ll call him “Mike,” said he’d “take care of it” for me. I didn’t know what Mike would do to take care of it, so I said, “Okay” and waited for Mike to call me back. I didn’t expect that he would do anything fraudulent – after all, I had purchased three cars from this reputable dealership. When Mike called me back, he said I was “good to go.”
After we hung up, the phone rang immediately. It was Mike again.
He said, “Don’t tell the people at the DMV that I fabricated your inspection. I did it so that you wouldn’t be inconvenienced by having to bring your car in to the shop for an inspection.”
“Okay,” I mumbled, dumbfounded, not really sure what to say. We hung up. But over the next hour, my mind was able comprehend the ramifications of what Mike had done. I imagined myself at the DMV the next day being asked about the inspection and having to lie about it. I started to feel anxious and fear twisted my insides until I writhed with pain. I tried to take my normal afternoon nap, but I couldn’t sleep. I was in moral and ethical turmoil.
Fake documentation. Fabricated inspection. Sounds like fraud to me.
So I had a decision to make. Do I just go to the DMV to get my license plate as if the inspection had actually happened? That was the most convenient and inexpensive thing to do. No one would ever know that the inspection never happened.
No one except “Mike” and me.
One definition of integrity is “doing what is right when no one is looking.” And I knew that I had to do what was right, even if I could have gotten away with doing what was wrong. So I called a different garage, made an appointment, and took my car in for an inspection the next day. I had to pay for it. And I gave up my nap time for it.
Friends, we have walk in integrity. We have to do what is right when no one is looking. We have to do what is right, even when it hurts.
I love how Psalm 15 and Psalm 24 describe the person who can dwell with God…
O Lord, who may abide in Your tent?
Who may dwell on Your holy hill?
He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,
And speaks truth in his heart.
Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
And who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood
And has not sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive a blessing from the Lord.
If you want intimacy with God, do what is right.
Even when it hurts.
Even it is inconvenient.
Even when it is costly.
Even when no one is looking.
Even when you could get away with it.
Even when no one would know.
When you do what is right, you have peace with God. Doing what is right is costly, but the being able to lay your head down at night in peace is priceless.
What about you? Are you willing to do what is right, even if you could get away with what is wrong?