The Day “It” Died
No one remembers the day, or for that matter the year, “It” died, but we all experienced the emptiness “It” left within society. “It” was not loud or bossy. He was not arrogant or proud. “It” was honest, faithful, blameless, dignified and honorable. “It” lived according to the strictest code of conduct and could be depended on to do the right thing, even when no one else was looking. Yes, “It” was complete within himself. He had nothing to fear, nothing to hide and nothing to prove. He was always just himself. “It” had a wholeness that few, if any, could match.
You will remember “It” when I use his full name, “Integrity.” In a world of relativity, integrity has become passé, old fashioned, and unpopular. Get to the top at all cost seems to be the order of the day. Yet the Bible has a lot to say about “It”.
God told Solomon, “And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments: Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel.” (1 Kings 9:4-5)
Job, when answering one of his so called counselor friends in Job 27:5 declared, “God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.” David invited God in Psalm 7:8 to judge him according to his righteousness, and “according to mine integrity that is in me.” “He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known.” (Proverbs 10:9) The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.” (Proverbs 11:3) I like what Proverbs 20:7 has to say, “The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.”
Have you ever asked yourself the question, “If my life was carefully investigated, would I be embarrassed by what was discovered?” What would be revealed if God set up a big screen that would display our lives… our integrity? A person of integrity has nothing to fear because of the consistency in his life; examinations are not an embarrassment. Integrity does not mean one is perfect but it assures consistent movement in the right direction. A person of integrity has the desire to live an honest, complete life that avoids deception and is sincere in thought, word and deed (Psalm 19:14).
“It” lives in you but can die overnight. The pressures of life, the pain of reality or the case for compromise can all assassinate “It.” We have to decide in advance to protect “It”. Integrity is not something you hope to have it is a choice you make. The choices made today determine the future experienced tomorrow.
Charles Swindoll wrote five things integrity produces. First, “It” produces lasting character. Integrity is long obedience in the same direction. Living in the midst of a society that cannot tell the difference between good and evil, we need to cultivate reliable integrity. “It” produces a character that will last.
Second, integrity offers a clear conscience. You can go to bed every night with a totally free and relaxed conscience.
Third, integrity provides intimacy with God. Living a life of integrity will allow you to live a life free from guilt and sin because when you do something wrong your integrity will tell you, Hey! You need to repent of that and make things right immediately. When this is done it clears the way for a close, daily walk with the Lord.
Fourth, integrity produces a lasting legacy. What will you be remembered for? People will remember you more for who you are than what you have said. People will remember how you lived faster than they will remember what you did. What they will remember is your lifestyle of integrity.
The fifth and final benefit from integrity is ending well, with no regrets. May I remind you that over half of the people who failed in the Bible failed in the last half of their lives (Sampson, Saul, Solomon)! I want to go to heaven without embarrassment.
Let me leave you with a few questions to ponder as we reflect on integrity. What does integrity look like in my life? If my friends were questioned, would they affirm that I am a man or woman of integrity? In the end, will my children or those who walk with me be blessed after me?
Let’s protect integrity in a world that has removed “It” from everyday life. Let’s remain committed to living “It” so we can teach “It” and then reap the benefits of “It” within our lives and ministries. Integrity, you cannot effectively minister without “It”.
by Nick Sisco