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15
The Power of Integrity Part 1
November 15, 2013

  An old friend recently asked me what the word “integrity” meant. Someone had used it referring to him and he was concerned if it was something bad in his life and character. I assured him that it was a good word—a compliment to him—this person was honouring him by acknowledging his integrity, his honesty, his morality, his godliness and so on. His facial expression went from distress to delight through an understanding of the word, “integrity”. I recently asked a church congregation to define integrity in one word. The answers were as I expected. “Truth”, “Honesty”, “Decency”, “Morality”, “Goodness” and so on. I then asked the people if these same attributes could be found in unsaved people whose hearts have never been transformed by the blood of Christ and the Word of God. The answer, of course, was “yes”.

The fact is, the world has its own version of integrity which includes truth, honesty, decency, morality, goodness and the like. But moral according to whose standard? Christians cannot classify integrity according to the world’s standard because that standard of what’s right and what’s wrong is always changing—our only standard, as Christians is the infallible Word of God which is forever settled in Heaven! The truth is, man’s own goodness apart from Christ is a stench in the nostrils of God.  That’s why the Bible calls our own righteousness filthy rags in comparison to God’s holy standard of righteousness which never deviates with shifting ideas of decency in a society of wavering conscience of morality according to what is right in their own eyes. Let’s face it—the eternal Word of God is no longer sourced by godly leaders as it once was when righteousness exalted our nation. Even the Church is rightly ridiculed and scoffed at because of hypocritical pastors who have forsaken their integrity for an occasion to the flesh and the name of Christ is reproached and blasphemed.

Our Christ-like integrity is on display as a matter of godly character first for His name’s sake, and then our neighbour’s.That’s why our conduct is the same in private as it is in public. Integrity is not motivated by the fear of knowing that God is watching, but that He is honoured in our choices for doing right in His eyes. At one time, I had a sloppy habit of not wearing my seat belt when I was only taking short trips in my car. Many times, I would simply slip the belt over my shoulder to make it appear that it was fastened. But one day, God dealt with me about the deception of the phony appearance and that I was not conducting myself in integrity. I now wear my seat belt properly according to the law, and God is honoured by my right choice. Let me give you another recent, real life example of my test of integrity. I love coffee, especially Tim Horton’s. I was in the drive thru picking up a box of K-Cups for my Keurig Machine which costs around nine bucks. I handed the server a twenty dollar bill and she gave me my coffee and change. When I got home, I discovered that I had eighteen dollars and change from my twenty. She charged me for a medium coffee. There really was no debate about it in my mind. Yes, it was inconvenient for me to go back. I just wanted to get comfortable and enjoy a fresh brewed cup of Tim’s in my chair while I worked on my laptop. I knew I could have gotten away with it, but I also knew that as a Christian and a minister, I had to go back and return the money, which I did. People just don’t do that nowadays in our entitled, greedy, selfish, sinful society. The fact, is at the end of my server’s shift, her till would have been eighteen dollars and change short. Maybe it would have come out of her paycheck. I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is walking the talk. I raised my two sons to walk their talk and they are now men of integrity, with wives and children who respect them for their godly values and convictions. In fact, I dedicated my book to my family members, and this is what I wrote regarding Michael, my first born.

“To my amazing son, Michael, who unknowingly challenges me in the area of personal integrity and accountability to God as I watch him confidently walking in his own.”

One of Michael’s first jobs was selling cars and he did it well and he did it with integrity, even at personal loss of a vehicle commission because he would not compromise with truth. Other sales people seemed to have no problem doing that if it meant a bigger paycheck, but Michael lives his whole life in every area in integrity and God is pleased. He really was an “honest salesman”! My younger son, Matt, told me of a situation where his integrity was put on the line in a small matter, and yet he had to do the right thing in front of his family. Matt and Cindy took their kids, Austin and Jaelyn to the movie theatre and they took along snacks in their pockets which was much cheaper than buying them at the concession booth. As they approached the ticket window, Matt saw a sign requesting patrons to not bring food in from outside. Most movie goers do, I’m sure. And nobody knows. You pull your chocolate bar out of your pocket in the dark and enjoy. But Matt couldn’t be deceptive in something that many would find to be no big deal. After all, they make enough money on the tickets. Matt collected all the pocketed goods and returned them to his car. He gained the respect of his wife and children by his act of integrity. You see, if we will be people of integrity on such a small scale, God can entrust us with huge matters concerning His kingdom.

Christians are to be people of integrity, not just when it’s convenient or self serving, and others will admire you for your honesty, but especially when no one would even know—because God knows and our aim and desire should be to please Him with a heart that loves what He loves and hates what He hates. You see, there’s more at stake than just eighteen dollars and change, or the sale of a car, or sneaking some jube jubes into a theatre—the honour of Christ’s magnificent name is at stake. That’s why 2 Timothy 2:19 tells us that “God knows them that are His, and let all who name the name of Christ, depart from iniquity.” Stay tuned for Part 2 of “The Power of Integrity”

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