Fairness is often a battleground of epic proportions in sports and competitions. How could it not be?
Coaches selecting players based on skill or strategy to take each play call and transform it into the magical moment of athletic domination.
Kids of all ages striving to make it to the major leagues or just to start in the big game. Perhaps with a parent’s nudging and extra sessions with experts to attain prowess and stardom. Perhaps God-given ability that proves itself naturally tangled up with an unstoppable drive to succeed. Perhaps just a passion for the game and a longing to do it well.
Referees, trained in their sport of choice to know the rules and regulations, called upon for their impartial and incorruptible judgments that could determine or undermine an entire game. Split-second decisions carried out with some level of finality, at least until instant replay allows for reversals. But even that all-seeing digital eye kind of alters the purity and integrity of the game.
Thank goodness for the rules sheets that come with most board games to help maintain the simplicity of refereeing my kids as they argue over who has the next turn and who is cheating. Because when you’re three, it’s hard to remember the rules or understand how to apply them every time.
Fairness has been called into question more often than I can count since I became a mom – who got more ice cream, why time out sessions are different lengths of time for differently-aged kids, which book had more chapters read for which kid… The list grows endlessly long.
When our rulings on the field and in the home are attacked, it can often make us doubt the ethics behind our decisions. We can wonder if we are truly being fair or honest in our evaluations of the argument between kids or the treatment of our bosses at work or the athletic performance on the basketball court.
And sometimes, it is easier to give in than to stick to our convictions and uphold the initial decisions.
Especially when everyone feels entitled to their own opinion.
It can feel nearly impossible to push against the flow of media and humanity that continuously works to plant little seeds of discontent in our minds about how life could be so much better if we just made that choice instead of this one.
It can seem isolating to do life differently, away from the corruptibility of morals and the immortal value of instant replays in sports but not in real-life do-overs.
Which is exactly why we must grow up our children to be leaders with integrity.
To live honestly. With decency and goodness. With fairness and honor. With virtue and uprightness.
A life that wouldn’t require as many do-overs because life would be lived more according to God’s desires and Jesus’ example than to the swaying temperament of society or our own opinions.
What if we actually followed the little voice that cries out against such pokes to the deep down soul, the part of us that knows the difference between right and wrong and might not be so easily swayed by marketing or manipulation?
That voice that belongs to God, calling into the wilderness that we so often found ourselves in, longing for us to choose to return to the incorruptible values He set forth clearly in His Word and in His Son’s own example.
When did the little gray areas between the starkness of right and wrong, of virtue and immorality, finally creep in and settle into daily existence? Maybe not even in ways that are so drastically obvious as with some “leaders” in our society.
But when we see the gradual collection of moments that threaten our own integrity or that of others, we realize the consequence of choosing other paths, however briefly.
And the trickle-down effect of immorality from one person to another, regardless of roles in society, has not only a demoralizing result upon the wholeness of our global community, but it crumbles our own pillars of faith from the inside out.
Titus 2 offers a multitude of instructions for how to instruct or lead ourselves and others in sincere, Christ-like lifestyles and choices.
“Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives.
“But mostly, show them all this by doing it yourself, incorruptible in your teaching, your words solid and sane. Then anyone who is dead set against us, when he finds nothing weird or misguided, might eventually come around.
“…Then their good character will shine through their actions, adding luster to the teaching of our Savior God” (Titus 2:1-10, The Message Bible)
But that isn’t just the doctrine for how to live a God-filled life. The tips for living virtuously and with integrity are filled with a much more important purpose, beyond just an instruction sheet for teaching and existing.
Integrity, honesty, decency, goodness, fairness. To make one and all complete and whole.
But not just because it is the right thing to do.
Because God always has a much greater, more redemptive value for His instructions.
Titus 2:11-15a is specific about why God is using these teachings as mere puzzle pieces in the bigger picture.
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. These, then, are the things you should teach” (Titus 2:11-15a, NIV).
So why choose to live with integrity?
Because it has been asked and earned.
Because there is blessed hope we should wait upon and live for, hope found only in the saving grace of Jesus.
The glory of Jesus Christ, laid out for everyone, in His personal sacrifice in death for eternal life. Everything is purified and redeemed. Although that does not grant a free pass for immoral and unprincipled behaviors, it offers forgiveness and a loving embrace back into the mercy-filled arms and unconditional love that only Jesus can provide.
Salvation for all. For. All.
Not just for those living out sincere, honest, virtuous days.
But saving, unceasing grace of God, given freely for every single broken one of us, every single time we come to Him.
It is worth the little bit of sacrifice we can offer in thanks and gratitude to live with integrity, for us and for our children, for our communities and for our world.
Looking for more in our growing up future leaders series?
Click here to read raising up grace.
Click here to read raising up humility.
Click here to read raising up honesty.