Sunday, August 27, 2017 - Kingdom Living: The Way of Integrity
Bro. Edward Bautista
August 27, 2017
Did you see the movie “Avatar”? Box office records, knocking the movie “Titanic” out of first place - a movie that captured the heart of our world in 1998. The opulent 900 foot cruise liner sank in April 1912 on its route to New York from Southampton and more than 1500 people lost their lives in the worst maritime disaster of all time.
And no one knew where the Titanic was until September 1st of 1985 when Robert Ballard and a team of scientists discovered it using advanced sonar and sophisticated detection equipment. Up until then the most widely held theory was that the ship hit an iceberg which opened a huge gash in the side of the liner.
However, an international team of divers and scientists using sound waves to probe the wreckage and about 2 and a half miles of water discovered the damage was actually incredibly small. According to an article in USA Today, they said instead of a huge gash they just found six relatively narrow slits across several watertight holds. And in USA Today - the last line said, “small damage, invisible to most, sank the greatest ship man could build.”
The same thing can happen to a leader, a corporation, a church - you and I. The greatest of careers, the greatest of ministries, the greatest of families and the greatest of futures can be sunk by small damage, invisible to most. This is how the mighty fall.
“How the mighty fall?- we’ll look at Samson, we’ll look at Saul, we’ll look at some great men of the bible who compromised their integrity living double lives, harboring secret sins - feeling untouchable, invulnerable, bulletproof. But their strength and greatness was not able to help and support them by the cracks in the foundations of their lives.
I have a sort of question here, and this called “moral games”. How many of you remember the game of SCRUPLES that came out in the 1980’s? How it worked was it asked you to give your opinions on everyday ethical and moral dilemmas. In fact, let me read you some of the questions from the game:
- “A friend offers to hook you into Pay-TV for $ 2.00. He says the risk of being detected is slight. Do you tune in?”
- “There are no dryers available at the laundromat, suddenly one is free and you claim it.A woman protests that she has been waiting longer than you.Do you yield it?”
- “A fellow worker is injured in an accident on the job. You’re a witness, but your testimony could be damaging to the company and your career. Do you come forward with the information?”
- “A troublesome employee applies for a position in another department. You’re relieved. When you’re asked for a reference, do you give a glowing report anyway so that the transfer can go through without any snags?”
- “You’ve been on an extended business trip far from your spouse. During a social event you make eye contact with an attractive member of the opposite sex. They invite you back to their hotel for a “drink”. No one will ever know. Do you accept?”
The Pharisees used also this kind of game, let’s read Mark 12:14 - they came to Him and said, ”Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren't swayed by others, because you pay no attention to what they are, but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? Jesus knew it was a trap question and he gave them the right answer.
And this is what the game of scruples is all about. It tests your integrity. It will determine who you are of your answer! And whether we like it or not, we play the real-world version of scruples all the time, don’t we? But unlike the game, these real-world choices have real-world consequences. They shape our character. They either strengthen or shatter our souls. They influence our career. Our homes. They impact how others view us and how we feel about ourselves. And, as we’ll see, they also affect our relationship with God.
Developing character and godly wisdom, the bible says, is the most important thing that we can pursue. Look at Proverbs 22 verse 1.
The problem is, that so often, people seem more concerned with protecting their reputation than developing their character. We’re more concerned with protecting our reputation than developing our character. Read 1 Samuel 16:7 - together.
The lord looks at the heart. He looks deep inside and He won’t be fooled. Hebrews 4:13 says: “no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
We work hard to present an outward appearance that will impress people, and when we do that, the bible says we are lacking integrity. The Lord looks at the heart according to what we read. What’s outside needs to line up with what’s inside. Our walk has to match our talk. So let’s just define this word “INTEGRITY” for a moment.
INTEGRITY means- adherence to moral and ethical principles. Soundness of moral character or the state of being whole, entire or undiminishes.(from the dictionary.com)
To understand more about integrity you’ve got to go back to the root of the word, which is “INTEGER”. Do you remember from math what an integer is? Well, don’t feel bad; I don’t either. But let me tell you: it’s a whole number - like 1,2,3,4 - as opposed to a fraction.
And so integrity means wholeness or completeness or entirety. Another related word is integrated. So integrity is when all aspects of your life are integrated or acting as a whole. Putting all the Word of God into action. You see, God wants us to be functioning as whole people and not a fraction. God does not want his people serve half for His kingdom and half for another kingdom, in fact, Jesus says, nobody can serve two masters, because that fragments their loyalties. Now, living a fragmented life is hard, but millions try to do it - try to be two people. Integrity, on the other hand, is about consistently living your beliefs and doing what you say.
Some of you may have followed the story about a university professor who, although he is a world class scholar, Pulitzer prize winner and best-selling author, apparently did not feel like this would be impressive enough for his students. So he made up stories about his having been a war hero - stories that were not true.
He wanted students in his class to think well of him and he was afraid they would not. So he lied. He wore a mask day after day, year after year. This is his secret. His greatest fear was that one day he might be found out, and one day he was and he is more alone now than he ever was before. Brought down by his fragmented soul.
A couple is known by pretty much everyone in their social circle for their good life, for their happy marriage. The truth is they’ve been sleeping in separate bedrooms for two years. Every week they attend church together, they sit in the same place. They smile and nod at the same people. They convince everybody that they’re the model couple, but the truth is they’re wearing masks and it’s killing them. Presenting one image, living another. A fragmented life.
One more: He is a respected pastor. He leads worship in a large church out East. Many years ago, when he was very young, he fathered a son that he doesn’t want anybody to know about. He moved on, had a respectable marriage, had two other children that everybody doted on, and his oldest son grew up far away from his dad. He lived a real hard life, mostly on his own. He knew it would not be a long life - he contracted AIDS. He went to see his father. He visited his dad’s Church on a Sunday morning. He sat way in the back. He watched as his father led the people in singing songs of praise to the God of Holiness, and preaching righteousness, and love.
When the service was over, his dad, although he saw and knew his son, pretended that he was not there. He pretended that he did not know that his own son was in the church. One day, not real long after this, his father got a phone call. His son was dying. He had very little time left.
He wanted to know, would his dad come and see him before he died? This father had to decide. Would he acknowledge the truth about his life, who he was, what he’d done, even to himself? But he wondered, what would he say about where he was going if anybody asked? What would he do if people found out? He decided he would not go and did not go, and the young man died. His son died. He left this world without ever being able to say goodbye, without ever being owned or prized or loved or known by the man who brought him into this world, by the man who spent his life teaching people to love God.
For the most part the dad’s secret was safe - most people never knew. But you have to ask yourself, why would a human being do such a thing? Because his reputation meant more to him than anything else. People thought so highly of him and he was afraid to lose that. He was afraid of what might happen if people were to think of him as the kind of man who would father an illegitimate son. But of course, that’s the kind of man he was. That’s not the tragedy. The tragedy is that he became something infinitely worse. He became the kind of man who would sacrifice another human being, who would sacrifice his son for the sake of a reputation
He became a coward and a liar. And the very secret that he thought was protecting his position and his reputation and his status and his life, this was the secret that was destroying his soul. His greatest fear was that the truth about him would be revealed. But that’s not the worst thing that could happen. Maybe the worst thing is that no one finds out - that the truth will never come to light and he will go to the grave and he will meet his God,our God, having lived a lie that enslaved him in his whole life.
This is the danger of a fragmented soul. Jesus said no one can live a double life. No one can serve two masters. Sooner or later one will rise to the top. And the tug of war between image and character must be won by character. Integrity - God says - preserve it at all costs. Don’t just appear to live life wisely - live it wisely. Don’t just pretend to have good character on Sunday mornings, develop it all the time. In Proverbs 3:21-24 it says, “God is intimate with the upright.”
Let’s look together at what happens when integrity is compromised?
1. It robs you of your joy. It’s sort of like when you give into temptation. Alexander Woollcott said, “all the things I really like to do are either immoral, illegal or fattening.” and all of the above may afford you some measure of pleasure and satisfaction, but after you give in, how do you feel?
Like a loser. A failure. You go down a notch on the happiness scale. You begin to think poorly of yourself. You lose motivation. You become critical. Some of the angriest and most unhappy people are people trying to live a double life and hating themselves for it. The example here was Judas Scariot when he betrayed Jesus for 30 silver, at first Judas is happy for 30 pieces of silver but after that, how’s Judas feeling? Another example here is king David, day and night he cried he cannot sleep. God left him and he lost happiness in his life. He cried to God to create him again as new person.
2. It leads to deeper cracks. When we violate our conscience, when we violate our morals and do what we know we should not do, it produces some cracks in the foundation of our life. When a small compromise wins it opens the door a crack and invites in another. For what I knew, the people who have fallen in some devastating way - it always began with some small violation. Saying yes to some small temptation. It’s no big deal. I can handle it. And the trap closes. Little things become habitual things and habitual things become your master. And every time you say “yes”, it gets easier to say “yes”. Small crack will lead to a deeper crack.
3. It brings death to relationships. What do I mean by that? Well, relationships begin to deteriorate. Relational distancing becomes the norm as one gives way to dishonesty, secrets and lies.
Proverbs 11:3 “The integrity of the upright guides them but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity” do you know duplicity means deceit, deception. Double life or double dealing.
4. It makes you feel like a hypocrite. We pretend of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs but the fact is we don’t really possess. I think we all understand that. It’s not a good feeling. We profess one thing but we do another and that makes us very uncomfortable. Because our spirit and our conscience is being violated. There’s an inconsistency in our life and our conscience won’t let us forget it.
5. It weakens your power to share Christ. I mean, if you feel like a hypocrite,we could hardly share the gospel,the truth to the people. And there’s no way that we can communicate Christ authentically if we’re not being authentic in our own walk with God. You’re saying one thing but you’re living another way. A favorite Proverb (Proverbs 11:30): “the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.” but you can’t win souls if your testimony is damaged. We can’t win souls if we walk against the will of God and if our action is different the way God wants us to be.
6. When you repeatedly compromise your integrity (and this is the scariest one of all), it leads to a hard heart. What is a hard heart? A hard heart is where you hear the truth, you believe the truth, but you don’t act on it. You don’t care. You hear it, you believe it but it doesn’t penetrate you. It doesn’t convict. It doesn’t change who you are.
You see a landmine, you know it’s dangerous. You struggle and wrestle with your conscience but you go ahead and step on the mine anyway. That’s the first part of it - giving in even though your heart says no. But what it leads to is the next time you approach a mine, you don’t even struggle or wrestle with right or wrong anymore. You just touch it and it blows up. Now the damage is not like a physical. You may not even see the damage at first. But it’s there. It’s there as scar tissue on your heart until your heart becomes so sensitized, so numb, you don’t even care anymore. The Bible calls that a seared conscience (1st tim 4:2). Are you numb to sin? That’s a dangerous place.
Now, back up. Let’s think about the way of integrity. You come to a moral intersection. You’re standing at a moral intersection, and you look one way and you sense that that’s the narrow way that Jesus talked about. That’s the God-honoring path. Then you look at the other way, and you say, “Now that’s probably the road that Jesus would call the broad road that could lead to trouble.” so you’ve got a decision to make, and lets say that by the grace of God you make the right decision. You take the narrow way.
You make the right call even though you’re going to the road to be unpopular with your friends, even though it’s going to cost you something. You make the morally courageous choice at that intersection. How do you feel when you do that? How do you feel? Remember how you felt the last time you said no to an evil allurement? When you said no to an inviting seduction of some kind? No to an ethical compromise? No to a secret vice that had hook in you for too long?
How did you feel when you said no to those things and yes to the narrow way? I felt pretty good. I felt some relief making the right call. I felt some affirmation from God, I felt noble and honourable there.
Every time you come to a moral intersection and there are two paths and you make the right call, that is a morally defining moment. Make the right call or choice consistently we are walking in integrity - we’re developing character that counts. And it’s all worth it.
Contrast that with the alternative path, one that’s joy-robbing, foundation-cracking, relationship-killing, hypocritical and heart-hardening. Which way sounds better to you? Proverbs 21:21 - read. So let’s just quickly look at some of the things that proverbs says define the way of integrity.
What does a whole person look like?
1. Say what you mean. In other words, have integrity with your mouth. Speak truth, not lies. Speak helpful words not gossip. You want to be respected for real? Don’t tell lies. Proverbs 17:7 - read together.
Two guys were taking chemistry at the University of Alabama. They were so confident going into the exam, that two days before - they decided to go to the University of Tennessee to party with some friends. However, they stayed too long - they overslept the morning of the exam - they didn’t make it back in time.
They told the professor they had been coming back to study, but had a flat tire on the way back. And that’s why they missed the test. The professor told them they could make up the final on the following day. The two guys are so relieved and they stayed up studying all night long.
The next morning - the professor placed them in separate rooms, and handed them the test booklet. They looked at the first problem which was worth five points. It was quite simple, and they were happy to see the test would be easy. They turned the page - and question number 2 read simply - which tire? 95 pts.
2., Do what you say.
Another proverb - this one’s great - Proverb 25:14, read. In other words don’t be full of wind and hot air. Our talk match with walk- Titus 2:7
3. Remember who you are. I mean, if you are a Christ's follower this is the whole ball game.
You bear the name Christian, and your reputation, character and authority is no longer just about you, but it’s about your God. You are now representing Christ on earth .
Remember who you are. 1 Cor. 6:20; Gal. 2:20.
J.R. Miller - an incredible quote about character: “The only thing that walks back from the tomb with the mourners and refuses to be buried is the character of a person. This is true - integrity- it can never be buried.
Be impeccable with your word, speak with integrity. Say what you mean avoid using word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.- Don Miguel Ruiz
Real integrity is doing the right thing. Knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not- Oprah Winfrey
Don’t walk through life just playing football; don’t walk through life just being an athlete. Athletics will fade. Character and integrity are really making impact on someone’s life, that’s the ultimate vision, that’s the ultimate goal-bottom line.- Ray lewis
The time you spend alone with God will transform your character and increase you devotion. Then your integrity and Godly behavior in an unbelieving world will make others long to know the Lord. Charles Stanley
DIFF: INTEGRITY COMES FROM THE INSIDE, REPUTATION FROM THE OUTSIDE, REPUTATION FOLLOWS FROM INTEGRITY, BUT INTEGRITY DOES’NT FOLLOW FROM REPUTAION.
REPUTATION: AN estimation in which a person or thing is held, specially by the community or the public generally; A favorable and publicly recognized name or standing for merit.
Integrity: adherence to moral ethical principles, soundness of moral character, honesty,the state of being whole,entire, perfect condition.
ESTEEM: TO REGARD HIGHLY OR FAVORABLY, REGARD WITH RESPECT OR ADMIRATION.