Integrity Is Never Out of Season

Integrity Is Never Out of Season

  1st Chronicles 29:17 “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.”  This week I want to cover one aspect of the fruit of the spirit which I have not done for a long time: Integrity. Let me define integrity. Integrity is deciding to integrate your heart’s value into your daily actions. Amen! I think the key word is the first word: “deciding.” Remember this please, because you do not slip into integrity. You do not accidentally one day discover that you have it. It is a decision. God places a very high value on integrity. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than he who is crooked, though he is rich.” In other words, God places much more value on integrity than on material possessions. Integrity is one of the things that makes God smile. Amen! {{more}}Now, there is a gap in America. I know that because a George Gallup poll recently came out that said that one of the problems that Americans face is that of incongruent values or lifestyles. In other words, what we say as Americans and what we seek or want or do, are two totally different things.” He said that for example, if you poll the average American, they would say that materialism is not important to them, and yet they want a lot of things. If you talk to a father, he would say something like “I want to spend a lot of time with my child,” but he does not. If you talk to a couple, they would say something like, “I want to have intimate conversations with my spouse,” but they do not. And George Gallup, as he looks across America, says that one of the problems in our United States is that what we say and what we do are not consistent in our lives. I think that Paul, when he wrote to the church at Rome, saw the same problem. He said, “No matter which way I turn, I cannot make myself to do right. I want to, but I cannot.” There are many of you this week who are very frustrated, as you read this message. What you know is right and what you do is not the same thing. You want to do right, yet there seems to be something within you, that causes what you try to do to sometimes just not come out the way you want it to. This is the path for integrity for the week. Integrity is the foundation for every relationship that we are ever going to have in life. It is the foundation for marriage. It is the foundation for a good business relationship. It is the foundation that makes you a good neighbor. Integrity is the key. Integrity has the power to build trust. Trust is what fuels a relationship. All good relationships stem and go back to a foundation of integrity. God’s word tells us that. Integrity provides: Protection less fear. Psalm 25:21 says, “May integrity and uprightness,” the Proverbs 10:9 says, “The man of integrity walks securely.” Proverbs 11:3says, “The integrity of the upright guides them.” How can you practice integrity at home? Speak honestly. Integrity means that you are honest in your speech. Ephesians 4:15 says, “Speak the truth in the spirit of love.” Proverbs 20:7 says, “It is a wonderful heritage to have an honest father.” Amen!Speaking honestly is better. It takes a lot of stress out of your lives. If you tell the truth you do not have to remember anything, but if you do not tell the truth, you have to remember what you said.” That can be a real problem, right? Ephesians 4:15 tells us that you are to speak the truth in the spirit of love. In other words, your honesty must be in the context of love. You and I both know people that speak truth, but do not speak it with love? They grate on us. We think they have a lot of joy in blasting us. They are kind of like the Clint Eastwood’s of life. “Go ahead, make my day.” They can hardly wait to tell us truth. And there is something about their spirit as they tell us this truth that just does not sit well with us. What they may be saying is true, but the attitude or the spirit in which they say it is not clothed with love or kindness, and it certainly is not taking the high road. And God’s word tells us to speak truth with the spirit of love. Amen! Proverbs 20:7, says, “It is a wonderful heritage to have an honest father.” I think a lot of times fathers think that their kids are impressed with their accomplishments. But if you would ask the children, I think they would say that it’s the character of the father that molds them, not what their father has accomplished. It’s the integrity, the truthfulness, the love. It’s the fruit of the spirit that I am talking about that molds the family. Amen!In fact, I want to say something to you, fathers, if the world never knows you and you never reach a high profession or you never own a business or you never accomplish what the world says you need to accomplish, but if you have loved your kids and have shown the fruit of the spirit to them, and if you have been a person of integrity and character, you are already in your children’s eyes and in the eyes of God, a success. That is all you need and you do not need to try to go up the ladder. It is sad if in going up the ladder you sacrifice some of life’s real values. I thought to myself, what would happen to the families of America if the fathers were these kinds of men? We would not be having all the splintered dysfunctional families if men really were men of God, speaking honestly. What a joy it is to be able to write about being honest men of integrity. “Let us be fathers, brothers, and husbands of integrity.” Amen? However, In order to be a man of integrity we should: Confess regularly “To keep your marriage brimming with love in the loving cup, when you’re wrong, admit it and when you’re right, shut up.” James 5:16 says, “Admit your faults to one another and pray for each other.” You see, there’s a principle in forgiveness that we don’t talk a lot about, called Restitution. We do not talk about it a lot, because when I ask God to forgive me, he forgives me immediately. If you have wronged someone, you need to go to them. Although you are forgiven by God, if you have done something wrong to someone else, you need to go confess that sin to them. A friend of mine related that when he was working on his Bachelor degree in college, God began showing him things that he needed to fix before he got that diploma. One of the things he showed him was that he needed to go make restitution to people in the city where he grew up. He told me he remembers going back to his high school coach. He had a gym bag full of stuff that he had taken. He had played ball throughout high school and he remembers walking in there and sitting down in the locker room and giving him a big bag. He said to him “They are not mine. I’m sorry. I took them. Will you forgive me?” Now I can honestly say I do not know of anybody anywhere that I have wronged, that I have not gone to and asked forgiveness and I can still remember the struggle of asking forgiveness. Whether it was a small item or a big item it sure seemed all big to me. God’s word tells us in Matthew that if you have got something unresolved out there, you are to literally leave the altar and go find that person and ask forgiveness. Then Jesus said, “Come back and lay your gift on the altar.” You see, he cannot bless it until we have cleaned it up.Live consistently. Matthew 7:21-23. We are to be consistent in our public life as well as our private life. Jesus said, “Take care and do not do your public deeds to be admired.” What it means very simply is this: I am the same at home as I am here. In fact, my definition of success is, “Those who are the closest to me, love and respect me the most.” Amen!When Joel my son was younger he would say, “Now, Dad, are you going to tell them this story about me?” And he would always want me to tell stories about him. But when I prayed with my daughter she would say, “Oh, God, help Dad not to embarrass himself in his message this week.” But I believe success is when those who love you the most are those who are closest to you. You know, there is something wrong when the people who know you the best respect you the least. There is something that does not fit. What would it profit any of us if we climbed the ladder and lost the people that God gave us accountability for those who are closest to us? Matthew 7:21-23 says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the Will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” In this passage it clearly says, “Not everyone who says, ’Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom f heaven.” Amen! Lastly, Commit boldly. In other words, you make statements with your mouth that you follow up with your life. You fulfill your promises and your word is your bond. Look at yourself through the eyes of God, who loved us so much that he sent his only son, Jesus Christ into the world that whoever would believe should not perish, but have everlasting life. God is your best friend. Now you know what it means to have Integrity! Amen?