Summary: In the Greek integrity meant to be true, genuine, trustworthy, reliable, and valid. We must live up to those virtues today.
Last week we began looking at flaws in our lives that might hinder us from being effective ambassadors for Jesus. Patience was our subject from last week.
We read about Saul’s lack of patience and how it led to disobedience. This disobedience caused an end to come to his kingdom, a kingdom that God would have established forever.
We also read about Esau’s lack of patience. He traded his birthright to his younger twin brother Jacob for a bowl of stew which led God to make the statement “Jacob I loved but Esau I rejected.”
We discovered we must be “patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults” (Eph 4:2). We are to be patient with those who are idle, disheartened, and physically or spiritually weak (1 Thes. 5:14). Also we must “be patient with difficult people.” (2 Timothy 2:24).
Today we will talk about another important element of being an ambassador for Jesus, integrity. In our modern day language integrity means “an adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.”
The question we must ask about today’s culture is who sets those moral and ethical principles that we adhere too? According to a poll done by Youth Talks the number one influence on those 26 and younger are movies. Number two is TV. Number three is music. Number four is advertising. Number five is social media. Number six is video games. Number seven is heroes and idols. Number eight is peers. Number nine is parents. Number ten is teachers. Number eleven is the church. Number twelve is youth leaders. Number thirteen is the extended family.
The top six influences in this generation called the Milliennials or Generation Y are centered on the electronic media. Church has become less of an influence in the lives of young people than athletes and rock stars.
When we realize that movies have a greater impact on shaping the “moral and ethical principles” of today’s upcoming adults than the teachings of Jesus, we see the challenge that lies ahead. In the latest Gallup poll 70% of those polled stated that “religion was losing its importance in today’s society.” And I am afraid that we have no one to blame but ourselves. We have not been a people of integrity that the Bible calls us to be.
The Greek word for integrity consisted of five traits. Integrity was true. Psalm 33:4 “For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does.” Being true and trust goes hand in hand. We know that the word of the Lord is always true and we can trust his Word to be true. Why? Because the Lord has integrity.
Our words are to hold true. James 5:12 tells us “never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no,” People should be able to take us at our word. Our yes should not mean no or maybe. Our no should not mean yes or maybe. Our word must hold true.
Integrity was genuine. James 1:27 “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” When Jesus walked on the earth he had a great concern for those who were unable to fend for themselves. He loved when the little children ran to him. At the time that James wrote this letter to the church being a widow or an orphan meant being an outcast. Widows and orphans were usually homeless. Integrity meant caring for those who were in distress but also not allowing the world to influence you.
Today’s Christian often turns away from those in distress. We are much too busy to be bothered with those types. We become indifferent to the plight of those who are not like us. We even allow the world to corrupt our thinking on how to embrace those that the world and even organized religion have rejected. To have the type of integrity that God finds pure and genuine we cannot allow ourselves to be corrupted.
Integrity was trustworthy. Proverbs 11:13 “A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.” When you pray to God, do you worry about him telling your secrets to others? We have a Father that we can be open and honest toward. We can confess our sins and He listens without informing others of your sins. There are cases in the Bible where God exposes someone’s sin to another for the purpose of repentance (King David and Nathan for example) but for what we confess to him, his lips are sealed.
We are to be trustworthy. People should be able to come to us and expose their deepest secrets without worrying about others hearing of them. Trustworthy means to be worthy of someone’s trust. If we break that trust by relaying a confession given to us in secret, we are no longer trustworthy. And our integrity is compromised.