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Psa. 26: 1-12; Psa. 15: 1- 5
We think of integrity as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. It is associated with honor, morals, and good character.
Another way to look at integrity is internal consistency, or lack of corruption. Many people today don’t believe than integrity is important any more. But if you think of flying in an airplane, you would certainly want that plane to have structural integrity, and you would also hope that it is being maintained by people who have some moral uprightness.
Funny thing about integrity. We want other people to have it even if we may not want it for ourselves. This message is just a reminder that integrity is a virtue that should be associated with being Christ-like, and that even if we could gain the whole world, it would be a deal-breaker for believers if we lost our souls in the process.
Integrity is in the same word family as integration. So we could define integrity as the implementation, and the integration of God’s word, and principles into our daily lives. We become doers, and not just hearers, or learners. (This is opposed to be one who is ‘ever learning’ but never changing. See 2 Tim. 3:7).
Jer 17:9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Jer 17:10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
Learning about God without the application of His principles is failure. We not only need a change of heart, but we also need a change of mind if we want to be an effective witness for Christ in this world. I will say it again, Lifestyle matters!
James 1: 17-27
It is clear that Jesus had a problem with hypocrites. He simply would not tolerate the hypocrisy of the Scribes and the Pharisees of His time. We need to keep that in mind today, because unless we have applied the principles of integrity in every part of our lives we are no better than the Pharisees. It really is true that actions speak louder than words.
If you are waiting for society to reward those with integrity you may be waiting for a while. Today’s standards have more to do with end results, (like money and fame), rather than morals. If you want to be a person of integrity you will have to chose to be regardless of the outcome. When you have a moral compass it becomes easier to make the right decisions over and over again. This is one area where God’s people can take the lead, and really make a difference. Remember they call in IN-tegrity, not OUT-tegrity! It’s a heart thing.
Matt.15: 8 – 11; Matt.15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth.
Since integrity is a heart thing, part of our prayer for ourselves should include the desire for the Lord to look inside and to spotlight any areas of deceitfulness in our hearts.
Psalm 26:2 – Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind
1 Chronicles 29:17 – I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.
1 Cor. 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
If it is so difficult to maintain integrity in this world, why do need to do it? Clearly there are rewards in heaven, but there are also rewards right here for integrating Godly principles into your life. I want to hear the Lord say that I have been a good servant. However, I also want to be able to look myself in the mirror without regret. I also want my family to be proud of me knowing that I always walked the talk.
Job 4:6 – “Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope?
How do we live a life of integrity? How can we integrate Godly principles into our lives? Here are 5 things we can do to help us become people of integrity:
1) Ask the Lord to test your heart. Careful with this one since trials are usually the way God tests us. If you are tempted, but still hold on to your integrity you are well on your way. God’s word is the guideline, and the Holy Ghost shed’s light on your life.
2) Study and read God’s Word so that you know truth. (See 2 Tim. 2:15). Honesty, purity, truth, uprightness are all words that mean integrity in the bible. You might want to visit these principles as a personal bible study. Spending time with God and in His Word will always keep your mind pointed in the right direction. The world may change but God’s word remains a constant source of light.
3) Integrate. Make God’s Word the basis of your daily activities.
Psalm 15:1-2 – O Lord, who may abide in Thy tent? Who may dwell on Thy holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart.
Simply put if you claim to know Jesus Christ then you must live like Him daily. Do what is right as opposed to what is easy.
4) Resolve to not to be a ‘Situational Saint’. Integrity means that you will do the right thing regardless of circumstances. It’s easy to trust God and do the right thing when you have money in the bank, and everything is working well in your life. Integrity means that even if things don’t go your way your heart will remain fixed, and your will do what is right.
Job 2:3 – Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”
When you are a person of integrity God testifies about you! Resolve to be like Job. Even though his circumstances changed he never lost his faith, nor did he reduce himself to situational actions. He didn’t give up on God and God never gave up on him.
5) Don’t let others persuade you to sin.
Mark 12:14 – They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?
These men were testing Jesus’ integrity. They wanted him to fudge on paying taxes, and asked him trick questions. Of course Jesus knew what they were up to and handled the situation with all the grace you would expect. Notice what he didn’t say. He never said; ‘Everybody cheats on their taxes, it’s no big deal’.
Job’s three friends and even his wife tried to persuade him to give up acting with integrity, but he refused. If you are going to act with integrity you simply cannot go with the flow of worldly thinking.
Job 2:9-10 – His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
‘Everybody else is doing it’, is not the way that a person with integrity thinks. Sometimes we must take the lead and do what God’s Word says is right. There is no peer pressure when a person has integrated God’s Word in their lives.
Job 8:20 – “Lo, God will not reject a man of integrity, nor will He support the evildoers.
Proverbs 19:1 – Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool.
Proverbs 28:6 – Better is the poor who walks in his integrity, than he who is crooked though he be rich.
I pray that all of God’s people would consider that integrity is the cornerstone of Godly living, and that we would show the world the true beauty of holiness.
Bishop Horace Ransom Jr. is the Senior Pastor and Founder of New Covenant Church International in Detroit, Michigan. He is a Jurisdictional Bishop and serves on the Board of Presbytery for the Jabula International Network, North America. Bishop Ransom is an outstanding teacher of the Word of God with a passion for challenging believers to become the best that they can be. Faith, Purpose and the Kingdom of God are frequently the subject matter of his dissertation.