Nobody Likes Fractions

Fractions are the evil underbelly of basic math.

They are certainly necessary, but they are rarely anyone’s favorite digits with which to add, subtract, multiply, or divide. We love using whole numbers simply because it’s easier. It’s easier to count dollar bills than coins because they represent a whole instead of a part (and because such, are worth more).

Fraction 1/5 (by Leo Reynolds Flickr CC by nc sa)

The same is true of people.

We build better relationships with people who are “whole” instead of “fractioned.” When we realize someone is not who they seemed, we are hurt, disappointed, and confused. Living a “divided” life usually starts in response to the craving to be liked by everyone. Somewhere we wrongly assume that our challenge to be kind and likable means we must make everyone approve of us. Since people around us are different, we mold our personality and choices based on the people we’re around at any given moment. Before long, we’re juggling different parts of ourselves, none of which are authentic.

The English word “integrity” is built from this same premise. By definition, it’s tied to honesty, ethics, and simply doing right things. By etymology, it’s tied to “integer” which, in math, refers to a “whole number.” Doing the right things–simply because they’re right–will certainly rub some people the wrong way. But men and women of integrity acknowledge that there are more important things than others’ opinions. They also know that integrity is the only path to success. The false, divided, unethical, dishonest person never accomplishes truly great things nor receives others’ approval, which is what he or she so desperately wants.

The Old Testament Wisdom writers leaned heavily on the importance of integrity. Notice a sampling:

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out. (Proverbs 10:9)

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them. (Proverbs 11:3)

The righteous who walks in his integrity—blessed are his children after him! (Proverbs 20:7)

More important than the practical necessity of integrity, a life of a “whole” relationship to God is the only life He accepts. Jesus makes this clear in Matthew 22:37-38, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.”

All your heart.

All your soul.

All your mind.

In the Bible I used as a teenager, I have 10/10 written next to this passage. I remember our Youth Minister saying “ten-tenths” to describe these important words.

Whole person.

Whole devotion.

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