Summary: Paul writes that we are "Christ's Ambassadors." That is a high and holy calling and to do that well the way we live must mesh with what we believe. We can live with integrity as we let our "yes" be our "yes" and our "no" be our "no." Are you a person o
The Quest For Integrity - Matthew 5:33-37 - January 29, 2012
Series: Kingdom Life – A World Turned Upside Down #15
I’ve always been fascinated by history and by those things that have gone before. Because of that, there are many places in this world that I would like to see; many countries I would like to visit. China is one of those places that I would like to go some day and when I am there one of the things I will look forward to seeing is The Great Wall of China. This wall is by far the longest man made structure in the world, stretching for nearly 6300 km.
The whole purpose of the wall was to defend China from it’s neighbours. If it’s enemies could not get in, it’s rulers reasoned, then China need not fear destruction from without. And it served it’s purpose well. No enemy was ever able to successfully assault that wall. And yet in the end the wall did not prevent China from being conquered. All it took was for one man, lacking in integrity, to open a gate and let the enemy in. That’s exactly what happened in the year 1644 and it serves to remind me that no matter what lengths a person, a family, a church, a nation goes to, to protect itself from without, the greatest danger we face comes from a lack of integrity within.
Now, the dictionary defines integrity as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles that you refuse to change.” (www.dictionary.cambridge.com) It speaks to an uprightness of spirit; an incorruptibility of character. It is what we need to cultivate in our own lives and in those of our children, because our relationships, our churches, our classrooms, our governments, suffer from a lack of integrity.
In fact we have come to expect a lack of integrity in the lives of our leaders, haven’t we? It makes me think of a story I came across the other day. A farmer was out working in his field when he saw a bus go off the road and crash onto his land. When he went to investigate he discovered the bus was full of politicians. The farmer was at a loss of what to do at first, but decided the least he could do was dig a hole and lay them to rest, and so that is what he proceeded to do. Later in the day though a police officer showed up looking for the politicians. When the farmer explained what he had done the police officer said to him, “Well, if you didn’t have a coroner out here, how could you be certain that they were all dead?” To which the farmer replied, “Well, some of them said they weren’t, but you know how them politicians lie, so I buried them anyway!” (Jeffrey Anselmi, Jesus on Integrity, www.sermoncentral.com) We might laugh at that but we laugh because we recognize that there is a grain of truth in there. We really aren’t surprised anymore when we hear of character failings in our politicians.
But research shows that that lack of integrity hits even closer to home. A number of years ago a book was published entitled, “The Day America Told The Truth.” It was a survey of morals and values from across the U.S.A. Of those surveyed, 91% said that they lied on a regular basis; 86% said they lied to their parents regularly, 75% said they lied to their friends, 69% lied to their spouses, and 50% admitted calling into work sick when they really weren’t. (Michael Luke – Keep Your Promises – www.sermoncentral.com) The truth is that we are faced with a crisis of integrity in these days and yet as children of God you and I are called to be men and women of integrity.
Let’s open our Bible to the 5th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew 5, beginning in verse 33. This is a continuation in our series on The Sermon on the Mount. We are currently looking at Jesus’ teaching regarding righteousness for He says that unless our righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees we will surely not enter into the kingdom of heaven. And we’ve already looked at what He has to say regarding hatred and lust and divorce and we’ve discovered that the spirit of God’s Word calls us to a higher standard of righteousness than does the letter of the Law and that’s no less true in the verses that we will look at today. This morning we hear what Jesus teaches about integrity. Let’s begin reading in verse 33 …
“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:33–37, NIV)