Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British writer and author of “A Dictionary of the English Language” published in 1755 also wrote a tale about Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia in Ethiopia, who was talking to his friend, the astronomer, Imlac, as they looked into the night sky. He told him that he considered their long friendship as one of the greatest blessings of his life. And then the Prince said this: “Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.1 He then informed his friend that he saw in him all the qualities needed for trust, such as kindness, experience, and fortitude. My, what an endorsement!

I read once where someone wrote: “Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. It is not just related to honesty but encompasses the entire range of moral values and also includes the strength to stand firmly to protect these values, morals, and principles. However, the moment we are born, the first thing we acquire is knowledge and not integrity.” As we know, survival is based on our knowledge and how we apply it to everyday life. But as Samuel Johnson points out, what good does it do to possess something vital to our lives if it is empty of ethics and virtues?

Someone may claim to be the smartest person in the world, but if they use their knowledge for all the wrong purposes, it can be dangerous and fearful for those around them. Likewise, a Christian may have extensive knowledge of God’s Word, if they place no thought or value on how they apply it to themselves or others, it will lead to confusion and dissension. So, not only should we learn what God’s Word means, but what He meant when He said it. As Publilius Syrus, the ancient Latin writer of proverbs once said: “What is left when honor is lost?” – Dr. Robert R Seyda

1Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia by Samuel Johnson, Published by Cassell & Company, London, 1889, Ch. 41, p. 158

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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