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Summary: Integrity is a reputation of trustworthiness that is built up over a period of time and is proven by our behavior, our conduct both in and out of the limelight, both in the public view as well as when no other human is looking.

INTEGRITY: WHERE YOUR WORD IS YOUR BOND

Matthew 5:33-37

1. `My boy,’ said the businessman to his son, `there are two things that are essential if you are to succeed in business.’

`What are they, Dad? Asked the boy.

`Integrity and sagacity.’

`What is integrity?’

`Always, no matter what, always keep your word.’

`And sagacity?’

`Never give your word!’

2. Sadly, this story reflects the epidemic of lies, falsehood, deceitfulness, and distortion of truth that permeates our entire society today. We hardly know any longer who or what to believe in virtually every field of human endeavor.

• We have largely abandoned any concept or hope of universal, objective truth – that which is true for all people everywhere, irrespective of age, nationality, ethnicity, gender, education, or income level.

• What is true for you may not be true for me. Truth has become a very subjective and personal thing.

• Truth is whatever a particular political party claims it to be – such as “George Bush lied about the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq” or “Bill Clinton did not have sex with that other woman”

• Companies have assured their clients that their private financial or health data is totally safe and secure with them, until a buyer was found willing to offer the right price.

• Huge corporations have gone out of business or their executives have been imprisoned because of lies they told their investors.

• The health of millions has been jeopardized because tobacco companies never told the truth to smokers about the high risks of cancer.

• Drug companies have withheld serious risk factors of their products until deaths of patients precipitated legal proceedings.

• Tragically, some Christian organizations have also played fast and loose with the faithful contributions of their sponsors.

• And sadly, so much of the legal profession today is caught up in trying to find clever, sophisticated ways to bypass, avoid, evade, undermine or conveniently twist the law and the truth to suit their client’s purposes. It would take a highly trained, high paid lawyer to interpret to most of us all the convoluted fine print of so many of the deals and transactions we make, that we generally just sign and hope for the best.

3. To try to get the truth in a court of law, we used to have to raise our right hand and place our other hand on the Bible and “swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God”.

• But the fear of God, the mention of His name, and the use of the Bible have been banished from our judicial system. However, it is still assumed that when you stand before a judge and make a statement under oath that to knowingly give false testimony, makes you guilty of the crime of perjury.

• Even as children, we learned early that we couldn’t always take a friend’s word for what it was, and so would make “pinky promises”.

4. Jesus already described the heart and character of a Christian disciple in the Beatitudes. What we have here in the verses that follow is His instruction on how His followers flesh out and fulfill the true meaning and purpose of the Law.

• The legalists of His day - the Pharisees - would add additional statements and clauses to their testimony – swearing by heaven, swearing by Jerusalem, swearing by their head – as a way of assuring others of the veracity of their promises.

• But Jesus says that His followers are to be such people of integrity that there is no need to back up their words or embellish them with an appeal to any higher authority, holy name, holy place, or on pain of losing a part of their body.

• He says, “Simply let your YES be yes and your NO be no. Anything more than this comes from the evil one”.

5. Are you and I known as men and women of integrity? Can people take it for granted that our word is our bond - that if we say we will do something or be somewhere at a certain time that our word can be counted on?

• Integrity is a reputation of trustworthiness that is built up over a period of time and is proven by our behavior, our conduct both in and out of the limelight, both in the public view as well as when no other human is looking.

• A man or woman of integrity lives their life in the conscious presence of God and so speaks and behaves no differently when people are looking and listening than when they are alone.

• A man or woman of integrity is not perfect – they make mistakes like anybody else. But they are quick to acknowledge them and will never try to cover them up or make excuses for them.

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