Summary: Are you living a life of integrity? If not, you had better scrap your present value system, determine what is important, & change your lifestyle because your salvation depends upon it.
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
ILL. So fearful were the ancient Chinese of their enemies on the north that they built the Great Wall of China, one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world. It was so high they knew no one could climb over it, & so thick that nothing could break it down. Then they settled back to enjoy their security.
But during the first 100 years of the wall’s existence, China was invaded 3 times. Not once did the enemy break down the wall or climb over its top. Each time they bribed a gatekeeper & marched right through the gates. According to the historians, the Chinese were so busy relying upon the walls of stone that they forgot to teach integrity to their children.
ILL. Brux Austin, the editor of Texas Business magazine, has written rather despairingly: "What is going on in North America?. . .We have no built-in beliefs, no ethical boundaries. `Cheat on your taxes, just don’t get caught. Cheat on your wife, just don’t get AIDS.’ Our high-tech society," he writes, "has given us everything - everything but a conscience," & integrity is a mangled casualty of our times.
Is Brux Austin right? Have we lost all sense of decency in our nation today? Has our conscience been so damaged that we no longer recognize what is right & wrong? Is integrity simply an oldfashioned & outoffavor virtue?
By the way, what is integrity? Simply put, integrity is more than just telling the truth. Integrity is doing what you said you would do. Integrity means keeping your promises. Integrity means that your words & your actions are the same. In other words, you practice what you preach. As someone has said, "Integrity is the foundation stone of eternal life."
PROP. So let’s look at ourselves this morning & ask this question, "Am I living a life of integrity?" If you’re not, then you had better scrap your present value system, determine what is important, & change your lifestyle because your salvation depends upon it.
Remember, it was Jesus who said, "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?" [Matthew 16:26].
I. CHOOSE YOUR SOURCE
A. So our first question is, "What is the source of my values? I’m getting them from someplace. Where am I getting them?" Now that is an important question, because where I get my values determines how valuable they are.
ILL. Would you consider the National Inquirer a good place to get your values? Would you consider TV talk shows a good place to get your values? Yet, if you are an average American, you’ll spend 1,000 hours in 1997 watching television. Which means that by the time you’re 65 years old you will have spent 15 years, 12 hours a day, 365 days a year just watching the tube - 15 years of your life.
In contrast, if you go to church every Sunday of your life for 65 years you will have spent a total of 8 months receiving spiritual teaching - 8 months compared to 15 years. That’s a big difference, isn’t it?
As a nation, we’re largely being molded as to what morality is, what decency is, what integrity is by what we see on the TV set.
B. Listen to what it says in 1 John 2:15,16. One contemporary Bible phrases it this way, "Don’t love the world’s ways...The lust for physical pleasure. The ambition to buy everything that appeals to you & the pride that comes from wealth & importance. These are not from God but they are from the world."
It’s obvious, isn’t it, that the world’s value system has always remained the same. This verse tells us that there are 3 basic world values that are constantly being conveyed to us.
1. The first one is pleasure. John calls it "the lust for physical pleasure." We are a culture majoring in pleasure.
ILL. Do you realize that the #1 industry in the U.S. is entertainment? We spend billions of dollars every year just trying to entertain ourselves.
ILL. Later this winter, on a cold morning when you & I will find it just a little bit difficult getting up & going to a nice warm church building, there will be tens of thousands of people in Foxboro, Massachusetts & in Green Bay, Wisconsin who will have paid 50 to 100 dollars each for the privilege of sitting on a snow covered seat & watching 22 guys beat each other up as they fight over an oblong ball on a frozen field.
And in the name of entertainment these spectators will be saying, "Boy, am I having fun. This is really great. I’m freezing to death, but I’m having a wonderful time." All in the name of entertainment!