Summary: viewing the integrity of Jesus
Matthew 22:15 IHCC 8/5/01
Cleveland Stroud had coached the Blue Collar Bulldogs for 18 years before his basketball team made it to the state championship. Stroud recalls that "it was the perfect night" when they won. "A night you dream of." He was carried around the gym on the shoulders of his triumphant players and their proud parents. The local paper put his picture on the front page. But the excitement was short-lived.
Two months after the championship, during a routine grade check, Stroud discovered that one player was academically ineligible. The player had only played 45 seconds during the regional qualifying tournament. Stroud says, "I thought it was all ruined. I went through a phase where I was really depressed." He struggled with what to do next. Yet, his commitment to integrity led him to the right decision. "Winning is the most important thing for any coach," he says. "But your principles have to be higher than your goals." He reported the error to the league and the Bulldogs forfeited their trophy. When the team lamented their loss in the locker room, he told them, "You’ve got to do what is honest, what is right, and what the rules say. People forget the scores of basketball games, but they don’t ever forget what you are made of."
In Touch Magazine, January 1999, page 16
I wish all our coaches were as mindful of the lessons we are teaching our students in today’s world. I wish all parents, teachers, politicians, and ministers were aware of the problems we reap when we don’t stand for integrity. When we sweep our sin under the rug and pretend that it never happened. It happens all too often that we are swayed to believe the world’s view of things. Our integrity is not bullet-proof in the world today.
We find that our Savior Jesus Christ had unwavering integrity. He was beyond any gray living. Let’s look at what the people of Jesus said about his life.
Read with me in Matthew 22:15-16.
I want us to focus on that one reply
“Teacher we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You are not swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are.
Christians, are we living a life that would cause someone to say that you are not swayed…that you are unquestionably a person of the utmost integrity. These are the enemies of Jesus saying these statements. How many of our friends, much less our enemies would say we have integrity? Why would they say this about a man that they despised? What does integrity mean in the life of a Christian? It means that you are willing to stand in the minority when you are fighting for righteousness. It means that you are not going to give into the worldly desires of the flesh. It also means that you are a forgiving person...that you are not a gossip or greedy, or overly critical of everyone who doesn’t do it your way. Integrity means living a consistant life according the truth of God!
Two preachers who didn’t get along very well met on the street. One of them said, "I heard you speak the other night and recognized that sermon -- you preached it 14 years ago." Somewhat chagrined, the other shot back, "I heard you speak just 3 weeks ago, and I can’t remember a word you said!"
Our lives should be like good sermons, conveying a message that leaves a lasting impression -- one that motivates others to godly living. When we’ve finished our course, what will folks recall about us?
Will they say you were a person of integrity that lived in the truth of God, and that you can’t be swayed?
Let’s examine our integrity today and find out if we need to start repairing portions of our lives.
I. If you need to examine your integrity then start with the heart.
ISA 29:13 The Lord says:
"These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me
is made up only of rules taught by men.
When we are truly worshiping God we are living the kind of life that he has laid out for us. Our hearts are clean and they are filled with the truth of God, the love of God, and the knowledge of God. Our religion will not just be for the favor of men, or for recognition, but to please our Lord. Many people are living lives that are good on the outside, but are filthy on the inside and that is not true integrity. We have people who are coming to Christ with the idea that if; “I can just straighten up my outside, or do more good deeds, or know all the verses to all the hymns without looking in the book, or if I could just give the most money then that will prove my integrity”. No! The only way to prove your integrity is if your heart belongs to God.