What is integrity: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. A state of being whole and undivided.
God can be trusted because he is trustworthy. It always comes down to the issue of character, not just good talk and fancy words. People do not just hear what you say, they watch what you do.
When you are in pursuit of knowing God, it must be reflected in you. You are his child and therefore responsible for making Him well known and represented. Being someone of integrity is being honest and having strong moral principles but it’s not just that. It’s not just doing the right thing, it’s also a matter of having the right heart, this is how God is, and you should be an ambassador of His, an example to others you encounter in your life, whether it’s in your home, your job, in a restaurant, with friends, you can’t pick and choose where you will act like your father and where you won’t, if you do that, then you are a hypocrite.
So what does our father act like?
Numbers 23:19 (NIV)
19 God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?
What was Moses saying in this passage?
- -God Isn’t Human
- -Humans Are Liars
- -Humans Change Their Minds
- -Humans Speak but Don’t Act
- -Humans Make Promises They Don’t Fulfill
We need to be careful when we are ‘leaders’ in the church because when we are ‘leaders’ we are being looked at and we need to be careful to;
- Not make ourselves god’s by thinking we are better than others
- Not make ourselves just like everyone else to fit in and leaving God’s standards, delicate balance
If you’re still seeking to know God you need to be careful to:
- Have the right perspective from the beginning, human beings are fallible, don’t make people your God’s.
- Don’t be quick to throw in the towel because someone said something or did something you didn’t like.
So, as Christians and children of God we can start to easily excuse our behaviors by saying “I’m just human. If I lie, change my mind and make promises without intentions of fulfilling them because I’m not God and can’t be perfect. God understands.” (anyone here ever thought that?) I have. Jokingly I would say to myself or others when someone got me angry, oh goodness they are going to take me out of my Christianity. I’m about to curse them out. Or say I’m going to do something then try and find an excuse not to do it, promises not being fulfilled after all I’m only human.
But God, addresses this issue of “I’m only human” scapegoat.
Ephesians 5 (entire text) written by Paul
Eph. Vs 1-2 1So try to be like God, because you are his own dear children. 2 Love others as Christ has loved us. He gave his life for us, a sweet smelling offering and a sacrifice to God.
Just in that first verse he dispels the I’m only human excuses. Yes, in vs 2 he does say love other as Christ has loved us. So, you could argue that God isn’t talking about our humanity in lying, changing our minds or breaking promises, but then I ask you, -when you love someone do you want to lie to them? or break promises when you know that will hurt them?
I’m not saying you won’t get it wrong, I’m not saying you won’t lie, or change your minds, or not act, or break promises. What I’m saying is that you can’t lean on the fact that your human and it’s all ok to do. You should be striving for something higher.
Ephes. 5 In Vs. 9 People who have the light do all that is good and right and true. 10 Learn what pleases the Lord.
(In the next session I want to dive into knowing what pleases the Lord)
We are children of the most-high God and if we have the light than it says that we do ALL that is good and right and true and we learn what pleases the Lord. If we are full of light than we know immediately when darkness is present. We know when we lie, when we break promises intentionally, change our minds on something we’ve said or speak but do not act on it.
There is lack of integrity when there is:
- Inconsistency between a person’s words and actions; saying one thing and doing another.
- Inconsistency between a person’s actions on one side and against their words and values on the other.
- Proverbs 12:22 The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.
But people who have the light, the scripture says; The light that we have will expose it. So, how do we let the light expose it? How do we walk in the truth and be more like God who is consistent and trustworthy?
How do we build and develop our integrity and maintain it?
- Examine Ourselves
I believe we have to do something most of us don’t want to do; We have to examine ourselves. The first thing is learning to develop a deep personal honesty through radical self-confrontation, when you are going through becoming a person of integrity you cannot make excuses or blame others for your short-comings.
Examining yourself is a painful process because you have to admit things about yourself that you might not like, are ashamed of, or have been secretly hiding for so long you don’t even know it’s there. Let God show you and don’t be afraid of it, be honest and confront it. integrity starts with you and God alone.
Job 13:23(ESV)How many are my iniquities and my sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin.
I like the way this scripture lays out for you that we need to check our own transgressions and sin. I can sit here and teach you till I turn blue in the face hoping that some of this makes sense to you and glorifies God, but you and God are the only ones that can check your iniquities and sins and expose your transgressions and sins that are hidden in your hearts.
The difference between iniquities, transgressions and sins, if you’re wondering (because I was) is that Transgression is against laws and commands not necessarily against the Lord where Sins are against the Lord. We need to be clear and have them revealed to us.
Iniquities- is more deeply rooted. Iniquity refers to a premeditated choice; to commit iniquity is to continue without repentance (Daivd with Bethsheeba and killing her husband knowing it was wrong)
Transgression-A violation of a law, command or duty, rebellion; To transgress is to choose to intentionally disobey; transgression is willful trespassing
Sin-an act against the Lord regarded as a serious or regrettable fault, offense, or omission (error).
Job asked some hard questions to the Lord. We should be doing the same, just be ready to confront it, because he will show you. Although going through the process is hard and painful for your flesh, it is worth the pain and discomfort, because when you come out on the other side you will be transformed.
- Develop Morals
Morals= The character of being in accord with the principles or standards of right conduct. The ability to know and do what is right.
If we would become persons of integrity we must first develop the proper morals. Proper moral standards are based on God’s character as revealed in His Word and reinforced in our consciences by the Holy Spirit.
1 Samuel 12:1-4 (NIV) Samuel’s Farewell Speech
1Samuel said to all Israel, “I have listened to everything you said to me and have set a king over you. 2 Now you have a king as your leader. As for me, I am old and gray, and my sons are here with you. I have been your leader from my youth until this day. 3 Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the Lord and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these things, I will make it right.” 4 “You have not cheated or oppressed us,” they replied. “You have not taken anything from anyone’s hand.”
Vs3 3 Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the Lord and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken?
- Samuel is showing he is not a thief
Whom have I cheated?
- Samuel is not a cheater, a swindler, a fraud.
Whom have I oppressed?
- Samuel is not someone who steps on others for his own gain, not a browbeater.
From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes?
- Samuel is not corrupt and someone who stands by while there is injustice, or betrays someone for his own gain.
- If I have done any of these things, I will make it right.
Samuel is exposing himself to be charged and if anyone has just reasons he will fix it!
That sure does sound like a man with Morals! During his farewell speech, after having led Israel for decades, Samuel promised to repay anything he had unjustly taken from anyone. What a promise! Even more impressive was the people’s response. Not one person rose up to make a claim against Samuel.
As children of the highest God we are to represent the lord here on this earth. Like Samuel, we need to be aware of our choices and what we do to others and against the Lord, ask yourself; have you given anyone a reason to have a charge against you?
People want to know if you can be trusted. And if you are a leader, a manager, a parent, a friend, a human, people want to be with someone they can connect with and have a truth with.
- Have Higher Standards
If we are to become people of integrity, God’s standards must become our standards; His values must become our values; we must learn to love what He loves and hate what He hates. We must have standards and not just yield to what the world feeds us.
1 Kings 18:21 New International Version (NIV) 21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing.
This is strong language. Elijah challenged them to take a stand. Some may not have known God yet but other did know who God was but the sinful world was just so enjoyable. If we just follow what’s pleasurable we may wake up one day and realize we have been fooled. We either are going to have standards and stick to them when it comes to being Christians or not. Doesn’t look like he’s giving us an in-between.
- Submit Ourselves to God
Become people of integrity; realize that we can’t live the Christian life in our own strength, we need the Holy Spirit to guide us. Ewwwww, submit is such a bad word in our world today. It’s all about me, I don’t want to submit to anyone.
To submit is to place oneself under the authority of another. When we submit to God, we give our lives to His authority and control.
Many years ago, my marriage was under a horrible attack. I can sit here and blame a lot of it towards the enemy but the truth is it was my pride and ego that played a big part and was attacking it. I was not going to submit to my husband no matter what, I pretty much emasculated and undermined him to let him know I was in control, I was the boss of the kids, I was the boss of what we brought, what we spent money on, what was dinner, and so much more. I was tired of being abused all my life therefor he wasn’t going to do it either. Then one day he admitted to me that he had an affair. My world shattered. I was so angry I went numb. I instantly wanted him gone, I wanted a divorce, I felt so betrayed, I’ll have an affair to I said to myself, see how he likes it. I wanted to do all of this and leave but when I prayed for God to be on my side and give me permission he wouldn’t give it to me, can you believe that? I was now angry with God. How in the world could God tell me that I can’t leave when this man is a liar, a cheat, untrustworthy? God told me to go to Jeremiah 29:11 while I was crying and praying one night.
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV) 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Oh, I was soooo mad, but not crazy. I knew that I had to submit to Gods authority and if I rebelled it would be no good for me, so I stayed, but wasn’t happy and was angry and showed it all the time. Then after a few months we decided to go to counseling, all the while I was thinking if God sees I tried than he can’t make me stay. While we were in counseling I started to learn that what my husband did was wrong yes, but what I was doing was wrong too. My husband was feeling oppressed, belittled, intimidated and hurt over the way I treated our marriage and him. I had to examine myself, look at my morals, and submit myself to God and repented and through scripture and listening to God we reconciled and are more in love now and stronger in our marriage than we have ever been, 18 years and counting!! We need to allow God to make the final decision for us based on His wise and loving Word.
- Be Humble
We cannot go around pretending to be someone we are not. A truly humble person is a realistic, teachable person, they don’t think they know it all.
I remember when I was at the choir in our church, we had three services and we had a guest pastor that was speaking, I thought he was a little dry so I went home after second service and had to be back for third service. I was sitting on the couch and said to my husband, I’m not going back to worship for the evening service this guy is boring and I’m not getting anything out of it. And as clear as I could hear anyone speak God says, Oh, I see, I didn’t know that I had to entertain you. Well, I got right up, put on my shoes, repented and went to church to worship. He gave me a quick lesson on being humble.
My last point in developing integrity and keeping it is we must learn that there is wisdom in being personally accountable to others for our moral and spiritual development (a friend, a pastor, a leader, a spouse, a child even). It takes others to bring out the best in us and we all need accountability partners that serve as an encouragement and a reality check.
Accountability involves a willingness to open yourself up and share sensitive or personal information with God and with someone else. This is why trust is so imperative. If you sense trust, you are more open to share your innermost thoughts without concern of betrayal.
Accountability partners practice having integrity and being more like God.
- Listening is a skill you need to develop trust. James 1:19 says, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
- A non-judgmental attitude is also necessary to practice. Remember, we can be accepting of an individual while being in prayer and discerning of the situation. Matthew 7:1-2 says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
- Caring for each other is also an important element to being or having an accountability partner. 1 John 4:21 says, “And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
The person you are going to make your accountability partner or chooses you to be accountable to needs to know that although you are “human” you are a child of God with integrity and allegiance to God first.
Psalm 89:34 (NIV) 34 I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered.
If you do anything in life, the one thing I pray will always remain constant is that you trust The Lord. He is worthy to be trusted. We tend to view God with the same eyes we view people, and people as we know will hurt us and disappoint us. We need to view God with our spiritual eyes. What I mean by that is the eye of faith…. you have to know, that you know, that you know that He is always there and is not a man that He should lie and is full of integrity.
Satan wants us to remove our eyes from God and his ways, he wants us to trust in what he has to offer, what the world has to offer. That could be the reason why we turn to take care of things ourselves when we don’t think God is working fast enough on our behalf. We need to be careful in thinking that the weapons of the world are stronger than our weapons in Christ.
You make God known by becoming more and more like Christ and being people of integrity. We have spent a life time developing patterns of sinful attitudes, thinking and behaviors, since we were kids, we found ways to get what we wanted and have favor, weather it was to get a toy, candy, or have a parent favor us by hiding some of our faults or mistakes. These habits will not be broken and replaced with godly behavior and thinking without commitment and discipline
Hebrews 6:17-18 (NIV)
17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.
God’s promises are unchanging. These two unchangeable things are God’s nature and His promise. God is all truth therefore He cannot lie.
You on the other hand can lie but what happens if you chose to NOT follow God’s example of integrity?
- Relationship with others will not be happy, in harmony or healthy.
- A person who has no integrity is a slave to what the world offers which leads to destruction.
- We will not be able to lead effectively.
- You will not feel good about yourself.
- You become morally and spiritually unhealthy and you will experience the distrust and disapproval of
- others, even the ones you love.
- Relationship with others will not be happy, in harmony or healthy.
- You won’t enjoy the confidence of others.
- You will not have credibility in what you say and you will lose the respect of others.
- You will not impact others’ lives.
- You will lack meaning and fulfillment for failing to pursue God’s purposes.
What can happen when you chose to build up to be a person of integrity?
- You will impact others’ lives.
- You will be a powerful influence and bring meaning to others.
- You will be able to lead effectively and people will want to follow you.
- You will have healthy and worthy relationships
- You will make God known in a positive way to others especially non-believers
- You will be credible and gain the respect of others