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12th July: Integrity

May the God of peace make you holy through and through. May you be kept in soul and mind and body in spotless integrity until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is utterly faithful and he will finish what he has set out to do. 1 Thessal

If there is one quality above all else expected of a doctor it is integrity. The word is not an easy one to explain, but we all know what it means and what it implies.

The patient of necessity trust the doctor. Innermost thoughts are confided. Potent drugs are swallowed on the doctor's say-so. Consciousness is surrendered under the surgeon's knife. Life and welfare are put into the doctor's hands. It is awesome.

In all this the patient assumes the doctor's integrity, the quality of being trustworthy, of being rock-solid reliable. The Greek word which Paul uses, and which J B Phillips translates by the phrase 'in spotless integrity', appears in other translations as 'blameless', 'sound', 'complete' and 'without break or blame'. There is in it the idea of soundness and wholeness, which is well conveyed by the word 'integrity'.

In a purely medical and social context, the idea of integrity underlies several aspects of the Hippocratic standard. It is even more relevant by the Christian standard. And here, as Paul makes clear, it goes far beyond a matter of right behaviour and reliability before people. It relates to how we stand before God, before the Lord Jesus at his coming. By God's grace it is made a reality in us if we trust him. His integrity is beyond question.

Lord, keep me in soul and mind and body in spotless
integrity until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Further reading: 1 Thes 5:12-24.


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