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Brilliant on the Basics, Personal Growth

Brilliant on the Basics: Four

Brilliant on the basic of Integrity

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Brilliant on the Basics: Four

Brilliant on the basic of Integrity

11 October 2010

When we talk about the basics of life integrity should be high on our list. In our society it seems to have fallen from the top 25 as we would say in reference to football teams this time of the year. Moral and ethical strength are not associated with success as they once were. Most people recognize that we all have flaws, and they have begun to think flaws don’t matter and that they will not hinder them anyway. It is time to decide that while we are trying to improve our economy, we need to work on improving our integrity.

When we talk of improving something it means that we have acknowledged that it needs work. It means that it is not all that it should be. Instead of being recognized as a virtue integrity has become regarded as valueless in many quarters. People in all kinds of leadership roles in society lie and think nothing of it. Deals are struck behind the closed doors in governmental establishments with no regard for honor and decency. Businessmen and women bend the rules, break the laws, and declare that it is not a problem because everyone does it, or the end justifies the means, or it is all relative anyway. Employee theft now numbers in the billions of dollars a year. White collar crime has risen at an alarmingly high rate in recent years. Corporate corruption has broken records. Is there a way to stem the tide and turn the ship of integrity around and put it back on the list of “musts” for people who want to succeed?

Most people do what they can be motivated to do. I want to give you some biblical incentives to strive to improve your integrity. You will find them interesting and even inspiring. God tells us what He wants most in us. To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8 NIV). We have a God-mandated responsibility to know what is right and to allow that knowledge to grow into convictions that will cause us to do what is right. One of the challenges today is where to find what is right. I think the answer to that question is simple. If you want to have a standard by which to measure your integrity turn to God’s Word. The Bible tells us where we can compromise and where we cannot. It is our values place! So, we will look there to find the results of a life of integrity.

Living with integrity assures you of:

1. protection (Ps. 25:21) – May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you (Psalm 25:21 NIV). Living a life of integrity simplifies your life. When you tell the truth you are not required to recall what you said when you are called to account for it. The simplest thing to remember is the truth. Your mind will not let you forget the actual experiences, words, choices, and actions of your life. They are all recorded for you on the on-board computer God supplied you with-a good brain. Use it wisely! I have heard Billy Graham say, “The only thing that is the truth is the bare naked truth.” When we tell that it protects us from the conflict that always comes after lying.

“Integrity” comes from the word “integer.” You should remember that from your studies in mathematics. It is “one” digit. So, integrity means that we should live “integrated” lives. That means that we do not put our lives into compartments and conclude we can act one way in one setting and another way in another setting. We want to be one way at church on Sunday and another way in the office on Monday. That is not integrated. It is fragmented and it is called hypocritical by those who observe us closely. When you live with integrity you live honestly in every area of your life. That produces protection from would-be critics, from opponents, and from your own failure to recall when you broke the rules.

Think of the peace you could have if you lived your life with integrity. How about the peace you could have as you lie down to sleep? You would never have to wonder what surprise awaited you the next day if you lived honestly before all. The wise man, Solomon said, Righteousness guards the man of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner (Prov. 13:6 NIV). If you walk in right relationship with God and people, as described in the Ten Commandments, the temptations of Satan will diminish. You will avoid breaching relationships and angering people. If you believe yourself to be innocent of wrongdoing it will give you greater peace of heart and mind. Think of the protecting grace of God and how much more believable it will be when you live with integrity!

2. selection (Ex. 18:21) – “Find some capable, godly, honest men who hate bribes, and appoint them as judges, one judge for each 1000 people; he in turn will have ten judges under him, each in charge of a hundred; and under each of them will be two judges, each responsible for the affairs of fifty people; and each of these will have five judges beneath him, each counseling ten persons (Exodus 18:21 TLB). God led Moses’ father-in-law to give him godly counsel regarding the distribution of authority and the sharing of the work load of his leading God’s people. His hands were full so God told him to appoint helpers to assist with the overload. It is interesting that God’s process of selection set out on the resume’ of these men was that they were to be men of integrity. If you want to be selected for a position of responsibility you take a significant step by choosing to live with integrity.

God does not reward one’s choice to be ignorant. God has given us good minds through which to educate and inform us. He rewards people who are prepared and available for service. But, he also looks at the heart of a person He selects for significant service. God is looking for people with educational and ethical qualifications. He selects honest people. He wants people who have a good testimony with others. He is looking for people who will be truthful and tactful. He desires people who know the pathway to overcoming temptation.

God is looking for people with sound judgment to place in positions of leadership in our society today. We should prepare our own minds and let God prepare our hearts so we are qualified to be chosen. We should also remember this qualification when we go to the polls in November to cast our votes for leaders for our communities, states, and nation.

3. affirmation (Job 2:3) – Then God said to Satan, “Have you noticed my friend Job? There’s no one quite like him, is there–honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil? He still has a firm grip on his integrity! You tried to trick me into destroying him, but it didn’t work (Job 2:3 The Message). God gave affirmation to Job’s integrity and faithfulness despite considerable losses in his life. Job knew the secret to maintaining his integrity. It was a strong faith in the sovereignty and benevolence of God. Job was an example of Paul’s expression, we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed (2 Cor. 4:9 HCSB). Paul was saying that God reveals His power in our weakness. To use the boxing analogy, Paul said he had been knocked down but not out. Job believed God, and God empowered him to maintain his integrity despite the persecution. I know of nothing that will hearten you more than the personal knowledge of God’s affirmation given through prayer, the Scripture, and the testimonies of others around you. It is affirming when others are complimentary. It is awe-inspiring when our all-knowing God commends you.

4. direction (Prov. 11:3) – The integrity of the upright guides them, but the perversity of the treacherous destroys them (Prov. 11:3 HCSB). The NIV says their “duplicity” destroys them. In a world that defies absolutes, there are some absolutes in God’s Word that we can always hold on to. A person of integrity can always be assured of God’s direction through His unchanging and inerrant Word. The Bible is a much maligned book, but it is a maintained book. It has been torn, burned, desecrated, dishonored, but never discredited. It is TRUTH that will stand forever. Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens (Psalm 119:89 NIV). God’s Word “stands firm,” is “fixed” in the heavens. Not one jot or tittle will pass away until it has all been fulfilled. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of the pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished (Matt. 5:18 NIV). The foundation of every truth that we need to maintain a life of integrity is in Christ, who is the Truth, and in the Word about Him, the Bible. That is what will bring stability and solidarity and a maintaining of integrity in the face of a doubting, degraded, and delirious generation. Get your direction from God, by His Spirit, through His Scripture. Integrity guided by God and garnered from His Word will direct you!

5. recognition (Prov. 11:20) – God does not recognize and honor perverse living. He recognizes uprightness. The Lord detests people with crooked hearts, but he delights in those with integrity (Prov. 11:20 NLT). Hypocrisy is more distasteful to God than to prospects for membership in a local church. Through over four decades of my serving as a pastor there was no excuse for not attending church given to me more often than that, “there are hypocrites in the church.” I never disputed that. I knew there were, from the pastor to the people. God detests hypocrisy. But, He recognizes, delights in, and extols integrity. There is nothing more worthy of recognition in God’s view than a person who is straight dealing and sincere. Each of us desires to be recognized favorably by our God. Surely He will deal with us on the basis of His mercy and grace, but it would be wise to live with integrity rather than presume on His grace!

6. benefaction (Prov.v 20:7) – Integrity brings great blessing to a life. It is more important than material wealth. Better to be poor and honest than a rich person no one can trust (Prov. 19:1 The Message). Integrity is a sure sign that a person is right with God and thus positioned for blessing. Living by God’s Word naturally positions you for blessing. It doesn’t mean that life will be a bed of roses, but one who lives by the principles of God’s Word is just naturally lined up with the place of blessing. A life of integrity is a reflection of one’s relationship with God. One is not capable of living with integrity without God’s involvement in his or her life. Living with integrity is not natural to mankind. It is natural with our supernatural God. When He indwells your life, if allowed, He will live His life of integrity through you in the power of His Spirit.

Not only will you experience God’s beneficence, but your children after you will also be blessed. The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them (Prov. 20:7 NLT). There is no better family heritage you can leave for those who follow you than a life lived with integrity. Your kids and grand kids need to see you living the same at home, at church, at school with them, in your social life, in your career. If they do, they will learn to live that way too, and that will position you and them for God’s blessing. The life of integrity produces benefits for you and for them!

7. instruction (Prov. 10:8-9) – A person of integrity is teachable. He or she knows that they need instruction and are not “know it alls.” The Bible says, Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not (Prov. 8:33 KJV). Solomon also taught, The wise man is glad to be instructed, but a self-sufficient fool falls flat on his face. 9 A good man has firm footing, but a crook will slip and fall (Prov. 10:8-9 TLB). The fool is full of himself and constantly interjects his own opinion. Those who listen learn. It is hard to learn when you are the only one speaking. A person of integrity has learned and is learning so that he or she maintains a firm footing and does not slip and fall down or fail. A person of integrity accepts wise counsel and is willing to be disciplined. One reason you need to be teachable is so you can become all that God intends for you to become. If you are instructed by God you are living on solid ground. God is waiting to instruct you. Live with integrity and listen to Him!

8. maturation (1 Tim. 4: 10, 15) – Living a life of integrity will both lead to and demonstrate that you are maturing in your spiritual walk with Christ. Paul wrote to a young minister, Timothy, and said, This is why we’ve thrown ourselves into this venture so totally. We’re banking on the living God, Savior of all men and women, especially believers (1 Timothy 4:10 The Message). Cultivate these things. Immerse yourself in them. The people will all see you mature right before their eyes (1 Tim. 4:15 The Message)! Paul was teaching Timothy that physical training is important, but training in godliness, living with integrity, is better. He said that godliness is profitable even though we are trusting God for His free gift of grace for our salvation. Living a godly life, one of integrity, takes a lot out of us, so we need to depend on God’s power which He pours into us. I can do everything through him who gives me strength (Phil. 4:13 NIV). When you live a godly life in God’s strength, it causes others to see its fruit–your “maturing right before their eyes.” That is a benefit of a life of integrity.

9. unification (Prov. 20:28) – Love and truth form a good leader; sound leadership is founded on loving integrity (Prov. 20:28 The Message). Solomon knew that a leader is not a liar and a liar is not a leader. Love represents “loyalty, fidelity, and kindness.” A king was exhorted to live with loyalty and respect of others so he could create a stable climate in which to rule. And truth is about integrity. It was being honest, upright, forthright, and fair. If Jesus is Lord of your life then both love and integrity will be apparent in your life. Remember that the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17 NIV). The only way you can live a life of truth is to be inhabited by the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6 NIV). That will produce a life that is unified–one with Christ and with others.

10. expectation (Job 4:6) – What gives you hope for today and tomorrow? I love the words of the hymn, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Our hope is in Christ for sure. Job found that hope also springs from a life of integrity. A couple of rhetorical questions expect the answer, YES! Doesn’t your reverence for God give you confidence? Doesn’t your life of integrity give you hope? (Job 4:6 NLT). Our hope for eternal life is based on our relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the only way to heaven. But, our life of integrity gives us hope for the day when we will stand before Him at His Judgment Seat and give an account for our lives. That will be a feared day by many who have lived life carelessly and foolishly and squandered many opportunities to do the works for which God has recreated us in Christ. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago (Eph. 2:10 NLT). The hope a life of integrity gives is that we will be rewarded for the lifestyle and testimony that we have lived in this life. We get to heaven by grace, but we are rewarded on the basis of the works done in our new Christ-life.

Integrity is a BIG DEAL for you! It is a basic thing of which a successful life is made. It is a BIG DEAL to God. He will see each day whether we live with integrity or live in hypocrisy. A life of integrity has its rewards!

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“Redeemed”

The painting in my logo is by an artist named Kelly O'Neill.



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