Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Opportunity for integrity

I had to appear in Troy city court this evening to answer to a charge of driving while talking on my cell phone. Now it was time to tell it to the judge. As I sat in the courtroom, awaiting my turn, I began thinking about what I could say to the judge in my defense. When my name was called I approached the judge's bench. He asked me if I had been talking on my cell phone while driving. I replied with a simple "yes." He then instructed me to see the city attorney and "see if we can work something out." I could have tried to lie my way out of the charge or I could have taken advantage of a typo on the appearance ticket (The responding police officer had listed the wrong intersection in the "place of incident" space on the ticket he gave me). I could have done any one of a half dozen things to weasel my way out of a minor traffic infraction, but in the end I pleaded guilty. I escaped with a lesser charge, which resulted in a mere $25.00 fine, and I with my integrity intact.

Several years ago I read a Bill Hybels book entitled Who You Are When No One's Looking, the theme of which is, choosing character over compromise. That book came to mind as I sat in the court room this evening, waiting for my name to be called. It may seem like a minor thing to lie my way out a traffic ticket, cheat a little on an exam, keep a wad of found money, etc. "Who would know," one might ask. But God sees and knows everything we think, say or do. So who am I kidding when I think no one is watching or no one will notice?