Summary: This is the third in a 3 part series that ivestigates what faith looks like when it has integrity. This sermon explores the ideas of relationships and life investment.
Living to Make a Difference
I want to wrap up the series I began a few weeks ago on Faith Integrity - this whole idea of living out the fullness of what we believe. The integration of belief and behavior is the key to living our faith with integrity in the world around us.
I want you to remember the fundamental principle of these messages: You can never live above the level of your integrity. Your influence in the world around you, your impact on your children and grandchildren, your ability to stand in the midst of difficulty, and even your relative joy in life are all dependent on the level of your faith integrity. How well are you integrating the reality of Christ into daily living?
Our first look was at Matthew 5 - Jesus gathers his would be disciples around Him and says - "you are the salt of the earth" - you are the substance of flavor and preservation for the world around you. Themes of integrating life, living as light, and living the heart of the message permeate Jesus call to His disciples.
Next we looked at a young man named Daniel - who rose above his circumstances, above the level of his culture, and with spiritual discipline made right decisions to move him to be all that God created him to be.
To close out this series on Faith Integrity I want to turn your attention to Paul’s letter to the Philippians where he challenges them to live to make a difference. Faith Integrity requires our daily living to change - you see if our lives are no more whole, no more Holy than those of the world around us - what does it say about our faith? The world around us is full of brokenness but God’s message to us is one of wholeness in Christ.
So what does it mean to bring wholeness to this journey in life? What does it mean to find Faith Integrity in this broken world?
Look at what Paul says
1) It starts with Relationships - v.2-5 - Paul begins this discourse on Integrity with the most difficult place in our lives - Relationships. Syntyche and Euodia - poor women were probably fighting over their names. All we know is that they were fighting and Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit felt it necessary to address them personally. Now let me ask you do you think God is interested in the petty bickering of people in the church or does He have bigger fish to fry? Doesn’t He have a whole world to run - if so he can’t be really concerned whether I am in a right relationship with the person sitting across the church can He? The reality is that He is interested. Why? Because relationships are a barometer for Spiritual Integrity. They are the test of the reality of who we are and what we believe. If we believe in forgiveness, wholeness, truth, grace, mercy, patience and all this other stuff we talk about then we will begin to live those things in our relationships with others. Turn over for just a moment to Luke 6:27-35 - Jesus says that if we aren’t different than the world then what is this all about anyway. If we can’t do relationships right then how will others ever do so. If we can’t live together in harmony despite our differences how will the world ever know peace? Paul says that the fruit of the Spirit (the evidence of God’s work in us) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control - let me ask you in your relationships is their evidence of the Spirits work in you? This is so important that Paul under the inspiration of the Spirit calls two of the women of the church to task to say - look at your hearts ladies - live in harmony with each other.
2) Life Investment - Paul’s second encouragement to the Philippians is life investment. Look at verse 8-9. Your life will become what you invest your life in. I think it’s interesting that in this passage on Faith Integrity Paul spends no time telling us what not to do. We have turned telling people what not to do into a cottage industry in the church. In fact we often spend so much time telling people what not to do that we loose the message that Jesus gave and that is telling people the blessings of living in Christ. Wholeness in life is not in the don’t do’s and it’s not in the have to’s it’s in becoming what we are meant to be. Whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent - have you ever thought about this? If we are investing our time, our talent, and our treasure in these things we won’t have time, energy, or inclination to do the stuff that destroys us or others. Paul says practice the things that I am telling you and the God of peace Shalom = prosperity, harmony, wholeness) will be with you. Two weeks ago we talked about decisions - the truth is our decisions about how we invest (live) our lives will tell the tale of wholeness or brokenness in our experience. God created us in His image - created us for wholeness - our stewardship of life and it’s resources will set the stage for our success or failure at achieving it. Priorities will shape our lives - where are you spending your time, where are you spending your talents (gifts), where are you spending your money (where your treasure is there will your heart be also) - our priorities shape our lives. Our priorities declare what is real to us - I have said over and over that if you want to know what a person really believes look in two places their day planner and their checkbook. If we really believe this stuff it will be a story told in our priorities of life. Our priorities then define our Faith Integrity.