Summary: This morning I want to cover two aspects of the fruit of the spirit which I have not done in any of these messages: kindness and integrity. Let me define integrity, first of all, this morning. Integrity: Deciding to integrate my heart’s value into my
FRUIT THAT IS NEVER OUT OF SEASON
KINDNESS AND INTEGRITY
This morning I want to cover two aspects of the fruit of the spirit which I have not done in any of these messages: kindness and integrity. Let me define integrity, first of all, this morning.
Integrity: Deciding to integrate my heart’s value into my daily actions.
And I think the key word is the first word: "deciding." Circle it, please. Because we do not slip into integrity. We don’t accidentally one day discover that we have it. It’s a decision. Now, God places a very high value on integrity. Proverbs 22:6 in your sermon section, "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. I Chronicles 29:17, "I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity." Integrity is one of the things that makes God smile.
Now, there’s a gap in America. I know that because the 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 doesn’t. If you talk to a couple, they would say something like, "I want to have intimate conversations with my spouse," but they don’t. And George Gallup, as he looks across America, says that one of the problems in our country 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 can’t make myself to do right. I want to, but I can’t." There are many of you this morning who are very frustrated, as you listen to 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, like the Apostle Paul, that causes what you try to do to sometimes just not come out the way you want it to.
I want to teach you today, through these principles in the Word of God, that integrity is the foundation for every relationship that we’re ever going to have in life. It’s the foundation for marriage. It’s the foundation for a good business relationship. It’s the foundation that makes you a good neighbor. Integrity is the key. In fact, in your sermon notes I have this little statement that says,
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...
1. Protection - less fear. Psalm 25:21
"May integrity and uprightness," the psalmist said, "protect me because my hope is in you."
2. Security - greater confidence. Proverbs 10:9
"The man of integrity," the proverb writer said, "walks securely."
3. Guidance - better decisions. Proverbs 11:3
"The integrity of the upright guides them."
For a few minutes this morning, I want to talk to you about having integrity where it is needed the most -- the home. There are four things that if you and I were to have integrity with our family with those who are the closest to us, there are four things that you and I need to do.
How can we practice integrity ... at home?
One of my favorite people to quote is Mark Twain, and he said, "Speaking honestly is better. It takes a lot of stress out of our lives. If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything, but if you don’t tell the truth, you have to remember what you said." That can be a real problem, can’t it? Ephesians 4:15 tells us that we are to speak the truth in the spirit of love. In other words, our honesty must be in the context of love. Haven’t you and I known people that speak truth but don’t speak it with love? They grate on us. We think they have a lot of joy in blasting us. They’re kind of like the Clint Eastwoods of life. "Go ahead, make my day." They can hardly wait to tell us truth. And there’s something about their spirit as they tell us this truth that just doesn’t sit well with us. What they may be saying is true, but the attitude or the spirit in which they say it isn’t clothed with love or kindness, and it certainly isn’t taking the high road. And God’s word tells us to speak truth with the spirit of love.