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Summary: Integrity is a quality closely associated with wisdom, righteous living, and character. People of integrity are good ambassadors for our Lord!

Integrity

(Proverbs 20: 9-14)

1. One gals tells this story:

It was a sunny Saturday afternoon in Oklahoma City. My friend, a proud father named Bobby, was taking his two little boys to play miniature golf. He walked up to the fellow at the ticket counter and said, "How much is it to get in?"

The young man replied, "$3.00 for you and $3.00 for any kid who is older than six. We let them in free if they are six or younger. How old are they?"

Bobby replied, "The younger is three and the older is seven, so I guess I owe you $6.00."

The man at the ticket counter said, "Hey, Mister, you could have saved yourself three bucks. You could have told me that the older one was six; I wouldn’t have known the difference."

Bobby replied, "Yes, that may be true, but the kids would have known the difference." [altered]

2. Indeed, our behavior teaches our kids about integrity more than our words.

3. We teach them when it is proper to round off truth (“How are you?”) and when we must pay the higher price or suffer the proper consequence.

Main Idea: Integrity is a quality closely associated with wisdom, righteous living, and character. People of integrity are good ambassadors for our Lord!

I. Only God Can Give Us Integrity of SOUL (9, 12)

A. Since We Are All SINNERS, We All Need God’s Grace (9)

• Even Job, when God appears, says, “I repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6)

• Isaiah sees Lord & says, “Woe is me for I am a man of unclean lips” in Is. 6

• None of us can say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin”?

B. God has to OPEN our ears and eyes to his truth (12)

1. This can be about physical perception, spiritual, or both

2. Deuteronomy 29:4, “But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear.”

3. Ezekiel 12:2, “Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not, for they are a rebellious house.

4. Mark 4:23, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

5. The Shema in Deut. 6 begins with “Hear, O Israel”

6. To the Hebrews, to hear meant to perceive, believe, and obey.

7. We complain, “Why won’t our children listen?” or “I argued with him about it, but he was stubborn and won’t listen to me.”

8. The core problem is not intellectual, but attitude.

II. God Expects Integrity In Our Business Dealings and Even in Our YOUTH (10-11)

A. Some people think it is okay to cheat others in BUSINESS (10)

• Remember the Andy Griffith episode where Barney buys a used car

• Cheating at the scale is an old trick, putting wax in cracked marble

• The idea is deceiving someone to gain an advantage (money, promotion)

B. Integrity or lack thereof is clear even in CHILDHOOD (11)

• The boys who mocked Elisha’s baldness in 2 Kings 2 (killed by two bears)

• Important that parents insist on honesty/respect; “say that the right way”

III. God Wants Us to Have A Work ETHIC Based Upon Integrity (13)

A. Sleep is meant to be PLEASANT

Psalm 127:2, “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

• How sleep and stress are inter-related (physical work vs. people/office)

B. Sleep can become an ESCAPE from responsibility

• The idea here is that sleeping displaces working

• When people are chronically out of work, their sleep cycle gets messed up

C. The Underlying Issue is Work ETHIC

• The 3 Stooges movie, at an orphanage, workshop noisy, nun comes in to ask them about a project: tape recorded and they are sleeping

IV. Because of Integrity Deficits, We Must Sometimes Take One Another With A Grain of SALT (14)

A. We can view businessmen as LESS than human

• Our goal should be fairness

• We are to love our neighbors, including contractors, mechanics, shop keepers

• Why are our foods so unhealthy, our material things so flimsy and short-lasting? Because, for the most part, Americans prefer economy to quality.

B. The temptation is to tell different VERSIONS of our story

• Here, the customer complains to the salesman but boasts to others

2 Corinthians 1:17-19, Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time? …our word to you has not been Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes.

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