The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.
Friend to Friend
On a recent flight, I was thumbing through a magazine someone left behind when the title of an article caught my eye. “Image is everything” the author declared. For a few seconds, I found myself actually agreeing with the author’s statement.
And then the Holy Spirit whispered, “Attitude check!” I knew what that meant. I needed to straighten up and pay attention because something was wrong. And then I saw it – the subtle lie expertly hidden in the seemingly benign words. It was from the pit and smelled like smoke!
As followers of Christ, we sometimes focus on developing and presenting the right image while neglecting the spiritual discipline of integrity. What we wear, how we look, the people we know, or even how big we can grow our ministry platform gets in the way of loving God, serving God, and becoming more like God.
Oh, friend, Satan is one sneaky dude! But remember that he is the Father of lies. It is his native language, and he speaks it well. Do not miss these two very important truths about integrity.
Our public lives are only as authentic as our private lives.
Image is who and what people think we are, while integrity is who and what we really are.
Billy Graham once said, “Integrity is the glue that holds our way of life together. We must constantly strive to keep our integrity intact. When wealth is lost, nothing is lost. When health is lost, something is lost. When character is lost, all is lost.”
Bobby Jones was one of the greatest golfers to ever compete, having won all four major tournaments in the U.S. and Britain in a single year. Early in his career, Jones made it to the final playoff in the U.S. Open. While setting up a fairly difficult shot, his golf club accidentally touched the ball. Jones immediately became angry, turned to the marshals, and called a penalty on himself. Since the marshals had not seen the ball move, they left the decision to Jones. It was a two-stroke penalty – which Bobby immediately called on himself, not knowing he would later lose the tournament by a single stroke.
Bobby dismissed praise for his honesty by replying, “You may as well praise a man for not robbing a bank!” Jones may have lost the tournament, but his character was legendary. The United States Golf Association’s award for sportsmanship is now known as the “Bobby Jones Award.”
I have often heard it said that integrity is what you do when no one is watching or that character is best illustrated by how you treat people who can do absolutely nothing for you. Integrity is a heart issue and a spiritual habit that decides beforehand to do the right thing.
Integrity matters to God.
1 Chronicles 28:9b For the Lord searches every heart, and understands every desire and every thought.
Matthew 5:8 (NIV) Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
The word for “pure” in this verse means, “ready for sacrifice.” In other words, the decisions and choices we make should be living sacrifices that are holy and acceptable to God as acts of worship.
To have integrity means to live an integrated life. That integration occurs when what we believe, what we think, what we say, and what we do all line up with God’s standard … not man’s. Image really is nothing without integrity and character to back it up.
Is it time for an attitude check in your heart?
Father, I come to You right now, asking You to examine my heart and show me every impurity hidden there. Search my desires and thoughts and show me the disobedience that breaks your heart. I want to please You with every choice and decision I make, Lord. Forgive me for the hypocrisy in my life. I lay down my pride and my agenda and choose instead to follow You.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Memorize Psalm 51:10: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” As this verse becomes the consistent prayer of your heart, each choice and decision you make will begin to line up with God’s will. He will be honored, and you will experience a new power and purpose in your life. Continually conduct an attitude check in your heart.