During Friday’s second round of the Women’s British Open in Carnoustie, Scotland, American Angela Stanford faced a series of odd circumstances that put her in a difficult spot. On the 18th hole, her approach shot went left of the green and rolled up against a fence that marked the out-of-bounds. Marshals at the green signaled the ball was out of bounds so Stanford re-hit, this time finding the green. While she walked up the fairway, however, a spectator moved Stanford’s ball to where it would be back in bounds, creating a rules discussion with LPGA officials. In the end it was determined that the ball needed to be replaced, but that, in fact, it was in bounds after all. As the officials explained her options, Stanford’s caddie asked about the other ball that she had hit to the green. When the official asked if she had declared it to be a provisional (which could then be picked up with no penalty), her immediate answer was a firm, “No.” The officials questioned her further, but she was steadfast. She had not declared a provisional, so she received a penalty after for all intents and purposes, calling a penalty on herself—resulting in a double bogey for the hole. This may seem odd in other sports, but in golf, the rules are to be followed at all costs. It is a matter of integrity.
In a world where people continually seek shortcuts, look for gray areas, bend the rules, or manipulate the truth, this kind of integrity is refreshing. For followers of Christ, we have special reason to be people of integrity. Our Lord has declared that He himself is the truth (John 14:6), our heavenly Father is described in the scriptures as the “God of truth” (Psalm 31:5), and the Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17). If truth so clearly defines the character of our God, should not truthfulness and integrity be characteristic of our hearts? Not only does integrity reflect God’s character—it protects us from the dangers and foolishness of chasing lies. As the proverb says:
People with integrity have firm footing, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall. (Proverbs 10:9; NLT)
Firm footing in an unstable world—just one of the many reasons that integrity is a path to wisdom for living. And a means to honor our King.
Bill Crowder, Sport Spectrum Chaplain