We don’t have to look very hard to find dishonesty in the world we live in today. All of us have had the commonality of people not following through on what they say they will do or justifying a means to an end even if it means ripping you off. How many of you find people who go out of their way to do the right thing on your behalf? How many of us see people thinking of you before themselves unselfishly in the business world or when you go to a store to buy something and have a question? We find a lack of integrity so common today even on TV with fake news, or corrupt leaders and politicians. It seems that those who are supposed to be beacons of integrity we often hear about are lacking honesty sometimes the most. On the flip side, what does make waves on TV and social media is also when people do practice integrity going out of their way to do the right thing because it seems so rare today. The employee who finds a wallet full of money and returns it to a customer who left it behind at a restaurant or other stories like that make big news because they just aren’t common as they used to be and yet inspire us all. Webster’s Dictionary defines Integrity as: 1 :firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values :incorruptibility. 2 :an unimpaired condition :soundness. 3 :the quality or state of being complete or undivided :completeness. The 3rd definition hits me with the term “undivided” suggests having all of one’s life connected and integrated. We are not honest with one hand and dishonest with the other when it suits us. Integrity means we are consistently undivided in our moral and spiritual approach to our life. Who we are at church should be who we are at home. John Wesley (the famous preacher) was asked what he would do with his life if he knew that he would die at midnight the next day. His answer was something like this: “I would just carry on with what I am doing. I will arise at 5:00 a.m. for prayer, then take a house meeting at 6.00 a.m. At 12 noon, I will be preaching at an open-air. At 3:00 p.m. I have another meeting in another town. At 6:00 p.m. I have a house meeting; at 10:00 p.m. I have a prayer meeting and at 12:00 midnight, I would lay down and be welcomed into Heaven by the Loving Arms of the Holy Father.” If we knew we were to die at 12 o’clock tomorrow night, would we have to step up our efforts, or could we in all good conscience carry on just as we are?
If I want to live a life of Godly integrity, the best example of integrity I can find is God—the Rock of Integrity. God is always faithful and faithfulness is the biblical foundation for the idea of integrity, and it’s the word Paul used when describing the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. Faithfulness is a manifestation of the Spirit as it is an attribute of God who told Moses, “I AM WHO I AM” in Exodus 3:14. God is who He is, never changing, eternally the same. He has no past, present or future. He is always the same. He is the “Rock of our Faith. He is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He” says Deuteronomy 32:4. Knowing God is to know the personification of integrity. Legendary investor Warren Buffet has said that when hiring people, you should look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. Then he said, “If you don’t the first—integrity, the other two will kill you.” Integrity is the key to everything else; integrity makes all other traits worthy of honor.
Here are a few on-ramps on the road to help keep you on track to being a person of Integrity:
- Be Honest with Yourself: We have to be honest with ourselves or we can’t be honest with anyone else. As men and women of God, we have to tell ourselves the truth. We have to hold ourselves accountable. Sometimes we forget that God knows all we think and sees all we do. He is as close as our thoughts. We can never be dishonest and think God won’t know about it. In Psalm 139:24 we see David’s desire to “see if there is any wicked way in him.” God knows our heart and we should always want Him to show us if there is any way we aren’t being honest.
- Tell the Truth: It’s this simple: God “cannot lie” Titus 1:2. Therefore we should not lie. If we are created in His image and have His Spirit in us, then we should also have a Godly integrity abundantly within us as well. The world is tired of liars lying to them and we as Christians should be the Standard as God is our Standard. The world has plenty of ammo on the church claiming it is hypocritical. Lying is a bullseye on hypocrisy and a black eye on the character of what we should be. Tell the truth at all times.
- Keep Your Word: Let your Yes be Yes and your No be No as referenced in Matthew 5:37. We should say what we’ll do, and then do what we say. How many times have you told someone you’ll pray for them and then forget?? That is just one example of how we don’t always keep our word of what we say we’ll do. God is our Standard again..He is “the faithful God who keeps Covenant promises and mercy for a thousand generations” in Deuteronomy 7:9. A thousand generations! Now that is keeping your word.
- Avoid Bad Company and Influences: 1 Corinthians 15:33 says “Evil company corrupts good habits.” Amy Rees Anderson has the following to say about avoiding bad company: “It is important to realize that others pay attention to those you have chosen to associate with, and they will inevitably judge your character by the character of your friends.” Why is that? It is best explained by a quote my father often says when he is reminding me to be careful of the company I am keeping: “When you lie down with dogs you get fleas.” Inevitably we become more and more like the people we surround ourselves with day to day. Surround yourself with people of Integrity to help you maintain your own Integrity.
- Be Strong Under Pressure: Sometimes your Integrity with the fruits of the Spirit are proven when being tempted to do the wrong thing. God will allow your integrity to be tested. We should prepare in advance and not wait until the test arrives to decide to be strong under pressure and remain faithful. Many examples of biblical heroes and the testing of their integrity are all too familiar like Daniel in the Lion’s den. Joseph in Egypt is another example. He was the chief steward of a high official’s household because of his honesty and integrity in Genesis 39. When Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, he ran away so fast he left his coat behind in her arms. Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph and he spent three years in prison. That was the price he paid for his faithfulness, but God allowed Joseph to be promoted to second in command in Egypt because he could interpret Pharoah’s dreams especially to take charge of preparing for the coming famine in Genesis 41:37-45. We have to trust God and be strong under pressure and faithful to God by maintaining our integrity despite the cost.
- Be Accountable to Someone: Everyone needs to be in relationship to someone whom can help them and themselves be accountable in the area of integrity in their life. I heard a story about a pastor of a very large church who stopped by his church for just a few minutes and parked in a “No Parking” zone. He thought it would be just fine since he would only be there for just a few minutes. The next day a member of the church’s maintenance staff sent the pastor a short note saying other members of the church had seen the pastor’s minor infraction, but were disappointed in his thinking it’s ok to park in the “no parking” zone. The maintenance staff member kindly asked the pastor to set an example as a leader and encourage others to do so as well. The pastor was humble and admitted the staff member was right on target with his letter. It was a small thing, but small things of unfaithfulness can lead to larger ones if not corrected. We all need one another as the Body of Christ to hold each other accountable.
The lost world that is always grasping for answers in life is looking for Christians to be people of integrity that inspire them to walk in similar fashion. The most powerful sermon we’ll ever preach is not what we say, but how we live our lives with Godly integrity. We can all do this. God never gives us a command without enabling us to fulfill it. What is God-inspired is also God-empowered.
Discipleship Ministry Leader