Integrity Essay Contest

Each year, Covenant Eyes offers thousands of dollars in scholarships to full-time students who use our service. The following essay by Gabriel Dvorak was one of the winners of the 2011 contest.

The deadline for this year’s scholarship contest is July 1, 2014. Apply for a scholarship today!

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Accountability is the ultimate reinforcement of righteous integrity. In accountability, our honesty with another humbles us, resulting in conviction, prayer, and correction. All of these aspects are crucial in establishing an environment in which the most positive form of integrity can occur. But the sinful nature that infects us all gives us the ability to corrupt the accountability process.

This is why the strength I hold in my relationship with God is so essential. He is the ultimate accountability partner, because He knows my every action. Therefore, the guidance and conviction that comes through the accountability of the Holy Spirit forms my integrity. With Him I am equipped with the awareness and strength needed to acknowledge and respond to any academic, social, or spiritual situation in which my integrity is put to the test.

My ability to live strong with integrity in every social and academic situation is completely reliant on the consistency of my spiritual integrity. When I stay in tune with God and His word on a daily basis, my ability to resist any social or academic foothold is very strong. I am able to make the right decisions when my spirituality is strong because God is right with me, communicating His will for me in every decision. My belief of this is based on the passage of John 15, the Vine and The Branches. “Remain in me and I will remain in you” (John 15:4). I have always known this to be true, but only in the past two years have I fully believed it. The result of this belief is what I call a constant state of communication with God, and I have definitely started to feel His presence.

Unfortunately it is very difficult to be extremely dedicated to God. In Romans 7, Paul describes this difficulty as two different laws that control his mind and body. Romans 7:21-23 says, “So I find this law at work; when I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s Law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.” When I am struggling, as Paul struggled, the challenge of remaining a man of godly character in every social and academic situation is much more difficult. The Lord’s calling for me is not as clear, because I am not specifically listening for His voice like I should be. Therefore my social and academic decisions are made based more on what might feel good at the time, or what I am being pressured to do. But the guilt that is a result of these poorly made decisions is how I am brought back to God, and thus, how I grow in my integrity.

As I grow in God the godly integrity of my “members,” as noted by Paul, becomes equally strengthened. Therefore my concluding idea is this: that my social and academic integrity is fully reliant on my spiritual integrity. The reason I say this is because without my spiritual integrity, I am nothing but a selfish human being making “me first” decisions. With God as my focus, my desires will come from Him, which in turn rules out exposure to any worthless things in my life. Philippians 4:8-9 says. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–Think about such things.” With God, I can keep my mind on positive thoughts with Kingdom outcomes, and my daily decisions are made in a preemptive manner, keeping me from being put into a situation where my integrity would be in jeopardy.

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Memories make us who we are. While our memories are unique to us as individuals, we also share memories with others, including our families, friends, and communities. Through memories we share both joy and sadness, celebration and loss. Survivors and rescuers of the Holocaust had many of the same experiences and, in their testimonies, express memories shaped by these experiences and by each individual's unique identity. No two Holocaust survivors' or rescuers' testimonies are the same although they recount many of the same experiences and emotions.

We each listen and interpret memories in our own way as well, shaped in part by our interests, experiences, and memories. As we listen to a rescuer's or survivor's testimony, one memory may especially capture our attention and imagination. We may feel as if the survivor or rescuer is speaking directly to us. When that happens, memory has become message.

Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, author, teacher, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, believed that memories of the Holocaust can become messages. When that happens, the past becomes present to us and brings us into the world of the survivors and rescuers. Professor Wiesel said “when you listen to a witness, you become a witness."

We can never experience what the survivors and rescuers of the Holocaust lived through. Our memories and theirs will never be the same, but by listening to their memories, we can become witnesses to their experiences. We can become their messengers of memory.

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