December 11, 2018
An Integrated Life
The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity (Proverbs 11:3, NIV).
Friend to Friend
Flying home from a speaking event, 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 mentally agreeing with the author’s statement until I recognized the subtle lie hidden in the seemingly-benign words.
As followers of Christ, we sometimes focus on developing and presenting the right image while neglecting the spiritual discipline of 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 and today the United States Golf Association's award for sportsmanship is 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. Character counts. Integrity matters to God.
Matthew 5:8 (NIV) “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
1 Chronicles 28:9b “For the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought.”
The word for “pure” 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 are all consistent. In reality, image really is nothing without integrity and character to back it up.
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 and hinders my walk with You. 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 seek and follow You.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Memorize Psalm 51:10 that says, “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 ask yourself, “Will my choice make God smile?”
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Originally published Tuesday, 11 December 2018.