“For One Sweet Grape, Who Will the Vine Destroy?”

   Posted by: GG Vandagriff   in Uncategorized

Recently I watched a BYU Devotional by Elder Russel M. Nelson on integrity. (See: http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=7102&x=59&y=3) It had a profound effect upon me, especially since I was targeted by a scam this week on Craig’s List.

The heart surgeon turned Apostle of the Lord began by using a powerful image of a heart’s valve that regulates the blood flow between the left atrium and the left ventricle, insuring that our bodies are being properly oxygenated by our blood.  The valve works by cords which open and shut the valve.  If it doesn’t shut properly,  “the high pressure exerted by the heart is then impelled directly back to the lungs.  If that were to go on very long it would result in failure of both the heart and lungs.” (“Integrity of Heart,” Russell M. Nelson, Devotional Address at Brigham Young University on February 23, 1993.)

Elder Nelson likened the cords of the heart to virtues in the thirteenth article of faith: chastity, benevolence, honesty, etc.  If just one of these cords snap, it endangers all the other cords.  For example, the scammer who targeted me did not have honesty.  One can easily see how the lack of honesty would impair the ability to function with integrity.  Integrity means that you are an “all around good person.”  Honesty is paramount to integrity.  So are the other virtues mentioned in the thirteenth article of faith.  Once one snaps, the others will not last long.  Our death may not be physical in this metaphor, but it is surely spiritual.

A powerful quote from Job was very sobering: “All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils; My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit . . . til I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.”  This applies even when our income or our very lives may be at stake.

As a writer, I have a strong responsibility to have integrity in my work.  If I were to lower my standards in order to meet the trends of the day, it might increase my sales, but it would kill me spiritually.  Because of the covenants I have made in the temple, I would be under grave condemnation from the Lord if I were to break those covenants by doing or saying anything “ungodly.”  This is a mighty challenge for all LDS people, no matter what their profession.

Because I am a writer, I usually think that Shakespeare has the perfect metaphor.  Elder Nelson must share this predilection for he shares the following quote from the poem The Rape of Lucrece, as Tarquinius is contemplating the conquest of a woman in lust:

“What win I if I gain the thing I seek?

A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy.

Who buys a minute’s mirth to wail a week?

Or sells eternity to get a toy?

For one sweet grape who will the vine destroy?”

(The Rape of Lucrece (1594), lines 21115)

We can so easily slip without realizing it, if we are not constantly engaged in those things which strengthen our integrity: prayer, repentance, scripture study, repentance, good works, repentance, and most of all charity, the crowning virtue.  A charitable person would never be lacking in integrity.

As I redouble my watchfulness of myself in this area, I am sure I will see many ways that I need to improve.  It would have been so easy to take just a sip of champagne at Cosimo’s birthday party.  I am sure they bought it just for me.  It would have been so easy not to return the extra stamp the post office gave me.  Are my books as pure in spirit as they are in word?

I try to review my behavior before I partake of the sacrament each week.  I find that that deadline, that covenant does more than anything else to keep me in line.  And like every mortal, I have a long way to go from where I am to where I am not (in the embrace of the Savior).  I only pray that the atonement is adequately merciful in my case and in that of all my brothers and sisters who truly want Celestial lives, but are living in a Telestial world.

This entry was posted on Monday, March 7th, 2011 at 2:55 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 comments so far


Just what I needed to read tonight…Thanks Geege~!

March 7th, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Wow. This is such a huge concept. And so true.

And I know that I’m at least doing something right when my daughter came up and told me how bugged she was that my sil lied about her age to pay the younger fare to a show. I was not there to change the situation, but I’m glad my daughter noticed and was bugged by it.

It is so true that little things make all the difference. It only takes a little hole to bring down the dike.

March 8th, 2011 at 10:23 am

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