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Summary: This sermon addresses the role of of intergity for Christians.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF INTEGRITY

Text: Proverbs 10:9

You are in the grocery store and the cashier has given you $10.00 too much in change. Aware of it, do you grin to yourself and say "Good, I can use the extra cash." Or, do you give it back? This is called a moral dilemma.

You find someone’s wallet. Do you keep the money out of it and mail the wallet to its owner anonymously? Or, do you just throw it aside, keeping it’s cash? Or, do you return the wallet to its owner with all its contents in tact? This is also called a moral dilemma.

Face to face, you and so and so get along well. Yet, separated and in different company, you put each other down. Meeting each other in church, both act saintly and pious. This is an issue that can be one sided or double sided in that one or both parties practice this injustice. I call it "people bashing." Both parishioners and preachers alike can be guilty of this behavior.

In church, your behavior is appropriate. But, in a secular environment, do you assume and conform to the character of your surroundings? Author Herb Miller, in his book Actions Speak Louder Than Verbs, calls this kind of practice "chameleon Christianity" (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1989, p. 36).

All of the above are tests of integrity. A good way to define integrity is to examine one’s public versus his/her private personality. In other words, are one the same person in the light as well as in the dark? Consistency and inconsistency are therefore the key factors that determine integrity.

Try this one. It is examination time in school. Some students who were tardy upon arrival, come in and explain that they were twenty-five minutes late because of a flat tire. To make it interesting, use the same excuse for teenagers who are late for their curfew. In either case, the parent or the teacher says to the party of four, "Okay here is your exam assignment. I want each of you to go the four a corners of the room and wait for further instructions." Upon dispersing into the four corners, the teacher or parent then says, "I want you each to write which of the four tires were flat?" It is obvious that if any one prompts the other or others as to what answer to put down, then guilt is evident.

Job was a man who walked uprightly and upheld integrity. Job 2:3 says, "The Lord said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason" (NIV). And Job’s integrity is something that we will come back to later in the sermon.

This morning as we talk about integrity. We must remember that there is both personal and group integrity. Integrity whether personal or corporate has three facets to it, honesty, honor and goodness.

HONESTY

Honesty is a term that we use synonymously with sincerity. In fact, we close a lot of letters with "sincerely yours", so and so.

ILLUSTRATION: "In the Greek original of the New Testament the word used means `judged in the sunlight’; and the English word is derived from the Latin--- `sine cera’, which means `without wax’. In the days when art flourished in ancient Greece, it was the common practice to repair with `invisible’ wax any vase or statue that had, as a result of carelessness or misadventure, been damaged.

A rich man or a person of high rank might employ a sculptor to chisel his bust in marble. Sometimes, if the chisel slipped, the end of the nose would be chipped off. Rather than go to the trouble of making a new bust, the sculptor would so mend the features with wax that the flaws could not be detected unless by very close scrutiny, and palm off on the customer his defective workmanship. If the client happened to be a knowing person, he would carry the finished statuette out of the studio into the open before paying for it, and examine it carefully in the sunlight: otherwise in the course of time, he would have the chagrin of seeing the nose drop off his statuette in the heated room of his house. The statue was not `sincere’, not `without wax’, and could not bear careful scrutiny in the sunlight" (A. Naismith. 1200 Notes, Quotes And Anecdotes. Great Britain: Pickering Paperbacks, 1988, p. 185).

After having lost his livestock, his children and even his health, Job still clung to his faith in God. In Job 2:9, Job’s wife said to him, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die" (NIV).

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