My family had a small partial family outing this past week, when we spent a late afternoon/early evening at the horse races. Nine of us were there, enjoying the time together when one of the wagering tellers walked up to us and asked if any of us had lost a betting slip? He added that this slip had been found in the Men’s restroom. He also stated that this particular slip, had been printed at the automated betting machine right next to our table.
My first, of a few questions to all of you, is…knowing this is a gambling venue and this slip likely had some monetary value:
· What would your answer have been?
I’m not surprised but my family unanimously stated it was not ours. You see we all knew that other than our family, only one other person had used that machine. We knew the slip was not ours and thus the slip had to be the other persons.
To me, our answers show a value that our family has exhibited throughout our entire lives; honesty and integrity. We clearly stated the truth. We did so because it was right, we had all seen each other bet, or not bet, at this machine. We had also witnessed the only other person who had used the machine.
My point is that we demonstrated integrity. But what if none of us had witnessed who used the machine…or…if none of us had seen what each other had done? Would we still have/show the same integrity? Personally knowing the people who were with me, I think we would have.
But let’s take this to another view. Here’s the second question:
· What if you found the ticket in the men’s restroom, and there were no witnesses to see you pick up the slip – now what would you do?
In this scenario, this slip has the appearance of having no owner, nor any origin, because we don’t have a teller who has researched the ticket and knows what machine it came from. So, on the surface, it appears that no one would know that you have found this slip, and you could easily cash it in as your own, and pocket any value this slip represented.
Ironically, just a few minutes later, a different teller, who was struggling to count back change, nearly gave me ten dollars more that I was entitled to. As she counted it out, I immediately caught the error and jokingly stated; “I’ll be happy to accept that extra ten dollars but I don’t think you want to give it to me.” She jokingly replied that the money was not hers to give. However, it would have been easy to say nothing and gain ten dollars. After all, it is a gambling venue, they have very deep pockets and no one would be harmed - right?
What would you do - What is integrity? I heard one of my business leaders once state in a speech, that; “we must have integrity in what we do – because people are watching!”
I’m not sure he said exactly what he meant but isn’t this EXACTLY the way the world views integrity? Doesn’t the world say; because others are watching and thus can be affected, we must have integrity in what we do? Thus, if this is true, my family was correct to be honest and have integrity when we all knew the truth…but…doesn’t this view mean it would have been all right to find and keep the dropped slip, if no one knew?
The challenge here becomes knowing right from wrong. The world would say there are various different degrees of right and wrong. I think we all know this to be false.
But if no one knows, who is harmed…this is another world view. First off, the person doing the keeping, something that they know is not theirs, does in fact mean that at least one person knows - them. And even though much of the world wants to shun God or pretend He does not exist; I would argue that God also knows.
Another harm occurs because it takes the item away from the true owner. Yes, they lost it, and their actions may, or may not, have been careless, but it was still theirs and not yours.
The plain truth is that integrity is doing what’s right – WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING!!!
To start with, we need to know right from wrong. This is exactly why God gave us the Bible. It’s one key reason why He sent His son Jesus Christ, to teach us more about right and wrong and why His Father set the expectations He set in the Bible. And yes, it is why the Ten Commandments were stated by God Himself and communicated to all, which Jesus re-emphasized during His time on Earth.
Integrity is doing what’s right, when no one is watching! The Bible does an excellent job of defining right from wrong, and Jesus made these truths even clearer.
So yes, I would have turned the slip, found in the restroom, into the facilities management. Why – because it was not mine…because it was someone else’s…because it is not only the right thing to do, but God expects this from us all!
By the way, the lost slip was worth $115 - Does this change any of your answers?
I hope not. Integrity is doing what’s right – no matter whether or not people know.
I would not have kept the $10 from the cashier as change. Even knowing the slip was worth $115 or let’s say $1,115, I would not have kept it nor claimed it.
What is integrity to you? To me, it is a key founding principle of all society and mankind. Without total honesty and integrity, we begin to live fake lives and treat people with fake emotions and watered-down love. Our relationships are meaningless and there is no room for trust and respect. Real and true builds foundations, anything less is built on quicksand.
The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 1:12 NIV:
Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace.