There is a Latin adjective spelled ‘integer’. It means that something is whole or complete. The word ‘integrity’ stems from this adjective. So we can say that integrity give us a sense of ‘wholeness’ deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character. When we say someone ‘has integrity’, this observation would be made based on the fact this person acts according to the values, principles, and beliefs he claims to hold.
Now, we all know that ‘talking is cheap’, but how many of us really can be true to their values, principles and beliefs when we are under pressure, we have great needs and we are presented with an opportunity to demonstrate our integrity? Sadly, the answer to that is: ‘not many of us’.
However, every so often we can find a ‘flower in the desert’. This is the case of Billy Ray Harris, a homeless man that made the news lately. He was a homeless man sitting on a sidewalk with a donation cap one day in Kansas City, Missouri. This lady approached him and gave him a donation from her coin purse and left. Sarah Darling was her name. The next morning, she realized she was missing her diamond engagement ring! She remembered then that at some point during the day before, she felt uncomfortable with the ring because of a rash and put it inside her coin purse! Obviously, this meant that she accidentally had given Billy Ray her ring. She felt the terrible sense of loss even beyond the value of the ring because it meant so much more to her than its actual value.
Sarah went to look for Billy Ray and found him at the same street. Sarah tells the story: “I asked him … ‘I don’t know if you remember me, but I think I gave you something that’s very precious to me,’ and he says, ‘Was it a ring? Yeah, I have it, I kept it for you,’ Billy Ray said. She was floored. She was so moved by Billy’s act of honesty that she proceeded to give Billy Ray all the money she had at that moment.
When Billy Ray was telling his side of the story, he said that for a moment he thought about selling the ring and went to a jeweler to get it appraised. He was offered $4,000 right there on the spot, but he refused. He said: ‘My grandfather was a reverend and he raised me since I was six months old. Thanks to the good Lord there is a blessing here, I still have some character’.
When Sarah’s husband Bill Krejci heard about this, he decided to create a donation page for Billy Ray with the goal of raising some money to help him out on a 90 days online campaign. And amazingly, people from all over the world heard of this on the news and at the time of this writing over $148,000 have been donated! This demonstration of character has changed Billy Ray Harris’ life. And it is not only money we are talking about. Because of the media exposure, Billy Ray’s brother who lives in a different State was able to get in touch with him after 27 years they couldn’t find each other. Now he wants to take Billy home. Now Billy is not homeless anymore, he is living in the basement of a friend until he decides what he is going to do to start this new given life.
Billy Ray Harris has inspired thousands of people. He has reminded the world that there are things in life that are more valuable than money. And that if we are faithful to what we believe, keeping our integrity, God will notice and one way or another, we’ll be rewarded.
Then people will say,”Yes, there is a reward for the righteous! There is a God who judges on earth!” Psalm 58:11 (Holman Christian Standard Bible ©2009)