Summary: The subjects of ethics and integrity have become unpopular subjects in modern times. Integrity is a dying quality and people don’t like to talk about it.


Opening Statement: The subjects of ethics and integrity have become unpopular subjects in modern times. Integrity is a dying quality and people don’t like to talk about it. This fact was indicated a few years ago when Chuck Colson lectured on the subject of ethics at a military base in North Carolina. He had addressed 2,000 marine officers and noncommissioned officers. We’ll pick it up there. Colson writes: “They sat attentively in starched fatigues and spit-shined boots, but when the question-and-answer period began, no one stirred…until the general, a rugged, six-foot-six officer, turned around and said in a booming voice, “There will be questions.” Suddenly, hands popped up all across the auditorium.” His last question was: “Which is more important – loyalty or integrity?” Of course, Colson, who had learned the hard way that loyalty to a President, at the sacrifice of integrity, could land you in prison, replied, “Integrity comes first.”

Title: Excellence in Personal Integrity, Part I (Nest a series within a series. I’ve been talking to you about excellence in leadership and service. I am all about creating more leaders, not just filling a church with people.)

Series Review: We continue our series on God-glorifying excellence. We’re not about perfectionism. Neither are we about a snooty sophistication, elitism and professionalism. Rather, we believe that excellence in Christian living and work, when expressed with humility and authenticity, glorifies God and inspires people. When we do all we can within our God-given resources to pursue our tasks at hand with excellence in mind, that moves people toward the majesty and beauty, and order of God. It makes the New Community an inviting place to be. People like to hang around excellence.

Transition: Today our focus is on… Excellence in Personal Integrity, Part I

Illustration: Integrity can be a slippery word to define. It’s like the story of some theologians who were trying to come up with an accurate definition of the word, to they invited a philosopher into the room. “Tell us,” they said, “What is integrity?” The philosopher pondered the question. “Integrity,” he finally intoned, “is what you’re like when nobody else is around.” The panel thanked him, then ushered in the businessman and asked for his definition. “In my world,” the business man said, “Integrity means a person is as good as his word.” After thanking him, the panel invited a lawyer to join them. “What is integrity?” they asked. The attorney’s eyes cautiously scanned the room. He crept over to the door, opened it, looked outside to make sure nobody was listening, and then bolted it shut. He closed the windows and pulled down the shades. “Tell me,” he finally whispered, “What do you want it to mean?”

Definition: The idea of completeness or wholeness is at the root of the Hebrew term for integrity. And the reason I state that is because our text is found in the Hebrew Old Testament today. The term “integrity” has within it the idea of an integer. What is an integer? Within the realm of mathematics, it is one whole number. It is not one number and part of another number. It is not fractionalized. Rather, an integer suggests completeness or wholeness.

Application: When we apply this concept to our lives, we understand that we are considered whole or complete people when our beliefs have been integrated into our behavior. A person of integrity is not fractionalized with duplicity or hypocrisy. A heart and life of integrity is consistent in one honest direction. If a person of integrity begins a job, they finish it. If they make a promise, they keep it. If they commit a huge mistake, they admit it. If they believe something, they support that belief with their lifestyle. In this sense, they are whole and complete without a fractionalized life.

Texts: There are two places in the Old Testament that we need to go today. The first is 1 Samuel 16:7. The second is Psalm 78:70-72.

Text #1 Recitation and Background Information: King Saul turned out to be a disobedient king. God told Samuel that one of the sons of Jesse would be chosen as Israel’s next king. Seven of Jesse’s sons were passed over. When Samuel was looking at Jesse’s sons to determine which one of them was to be anointed the next King of Israel, the LORD told him.

1 Samuel 16:7: “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

We learn from this that integrity is not something that we can necessarily see. Samuel could not see it, but God could. So integrity is an issue of the heart that God sees. David, Jesse’s youngest son, was finally chosen. It’s neat that such a young lad was chosen, but to me, this is not the most remarkable fact in this story. In fact, we have all heard of young phenomenal people who make a big impact at an early age.

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