A Lesson in True Integrity

In the movie “The Legend of Bagger Vance” released in 2000, Matt Damon plays Rannulph Junuh, a former golfing great. One of the final scenes of the movie demonstrates personal character and integrity in a way rarely seen in today’s secular films.

golf-scoring-handicappingJunuh, who has been greatly impacted by his experiences in World War I, is living as an alcoholic bum until Bagger Vance becomes his caddy and helps him regain his golf swing as well as teaching him several important life lessons. Once Bagger sees that Junuh has learned those lessons, he disappears from the scene and a young boy named Hardy takes his place as Junuh’s caddy.

At the end of the movie, Junuh is playing in a two-day tournament against Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen, two of the greatest golfers to ever pick up a club. On the final hole of the match, the three golfing rivals are all neck and neck. Junuh is preparing to chip onto the green when he reaches down to remove a twig from beside his ball. As he picks up the twig his ball moves slightly. The young caddy Hardy was the only one to witness the ball move.

Junuh reveals tremendous courage as he admits, “The ball moved.”

Hardy immediately begs him not to say anything, as he is sure it would mean defeat. Hardy tells him, “No one saw it move but me and you. I promise I will never tell. No one will ever know.”

Junuh displays even more resolve and courage as he instructs Hardy, “I’ll know and you will know.”

Naturally, the movie ends happier than we can always expect in real life, but the message is clear that our response should be the same regardless of the outcome. Many times in life—whether at work, school, home, or in the marketplaces of our society—we have opportunities to cut corners or get ahead because our actions go unnoticed, but to live a life of integrity requires faithfulness in the small things. If we don’t practice our integrity when alone, we will be less likely to do the right thing when someone else is watching.

Jesus said it best in Luke 16:10, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.” What about in your workplace, classroom, or home? Have you had any balls move lately that you haven’t told anyone about? Do what is right even when no one else is doing it, and never do wrong, even when everyone else is doing it.