by David Sowers, interim preaching minister for Cornerstone Christian Church
Breaking the sound barrier is an important chapter in the history of the development of aircraft. Years ago while poring through a book on aviation, I came across a photograph of a plane which had just attempted to break the elusive sound barrier. The plane was still in the air; however it was no longer integrated. What had formerly been a recognizable aircraft was now a blurred mass of thousands of pieces. The plane, because it was poorly designed for flight faster than the speed of sound, had literally disintegrated in mid-air.
Experts on the history of that period in aviation point out that it was in the transition from subsonic to supersonic flight that the worst vibration would occur. Planes attempting to break the sound barrier would violently shake, sometimes with disastrous results. However, once that transition stage was passed, the early pioneers in supersonic flight found that flight became smooth again.
A parallel exists between the transition stage of early aircraft from subsonic to supersonic flight and temptations to compromise our integrity. Integrity has been defined as “the quality or state of being complete; unbroken condition; wholeness; entirety” and from a moral perspective “the quality or state of being of sound moral principle; uprightness, honesty, and sincerity (Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, 2nd College Ed.). Just as the transitional stage from subsonic to supersonic flight severely tested the airframes and wings, so temptations to take the easy or convenient or less expensive road severely test our resolve to remain persons of integrity.
If the process of the rapid disintegration of an early aircraft attempting supersonic flight were drastically slowed, one would likely see a rivet or a weld give way in one place which in turn would place unbearable stress on the other welds and rivets which ultimately would lead to the aircraft coming apart. The process is similar in a Christian who gives up his or her integrity. Small, seemingly insignificant compromises are made at first, which, in turn, lead to further compromises until the person, at last, falls into serious sin.
Our Lord said on one occasion with reference to worldly possessions, “whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (Luke 16:10). A person who thinks that the little things do not matter is in a position similar to an aircraft as its airframe begins to weaken and give way.
On the other hand, the Christian person of integrity will stand his ground even when tempted to compromise on the little things. And certainly, if he stands firm on the little things, he will stand firm on the big things. The Christian who successfully weathers the temptation, will come out still integrated, still whole, and be stronger for it (James 1:2-4, 12).
What about you? What about me? Are we striving to be people of integrity as our Lord was? Are we resisting the temptation to “fudge a little here, and fudge a little there?” If so, then our Lord will entrust us with greater responsibility and, in the end, we will receive “the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).