Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Need of Integrity

Sometimes it is easy in living for Christ to miss the nitty-gritty things that are involved in doing this on a day-to-day basis. Now I do not want in any way to deny that our salvation is by grace (Ephesians 2;8,9; Romans 4:4,5; Titus 3:5,6). Nor do I want to minimize the fact that it is only by the power of God working in us we can live for Him (2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 2:13; Colossians 1:29). But Scripture does say that growth in godliness is a process that requires practice and effort (1 Timothy 4:7.8; Philippians 3:13,14; Hebrews 5:14). In this process, integrity is one of the basic qualities we need to acquire. It is also one that is hard to maintain. And it is easy (at least for me) to fall into the error of the Pharisees, splitting hairs to try to cover my tracks.  

First, we need to refrain from lying (Proverbs 6:16-19; John 8:44; Ephesians 4:25). This particularly refers to slander, telling false things about others (Exodus 20:16; Proverbs 10:18; 1 Peter 2:1). The problem is that it is often easy to rationalize this if we let ourselves. We particularly need to keep the promises we have made (Psalms 15:4; Matthew 5:33-37; 23:16-22). But it is easy, like the Pharisees, to come up with a system of which promises really count. And we as a society tend to take our oaths lightly, whether wedding vows or other types of agreements. We have a whole legal system based around the technicality, and it is easy to fall into that kind of thinking. We also should not say things that tear down another person, even if they are true (Ephesians 4:29-31; Colossians 3:8; James 3:2-12), particularly behind their back (Leviticus 19:16; Proverbs 11:13; 26:20-22). Now there is a place for correcting those in sin, but it should be to their face, with a proper attitude (Matthew 18:15-17; Galatians 6:1; Hebrews 12:12,13). But it is easy to come up with excuses: I was just concerned, or I was sharing a prayer request. Perhaps the hardest area can be the area of money. We live in a culture where the love of money is a fundamental motivator (1 Timothy 6:10; Matthew 6:19-20; 19:16-22). Easy credit and other questionable practices do not help here. Also, a part of our character is our choice of companions (Psalms 1:1; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Proverbs 13:20). Now there is a place to reach out to people to win them to Christ (Matthew 9:11-13; Luke 19:10; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23). But we need to be careful we are pulling them up and they are not pulling us down. It can often be difficult to know how to maintain our integrity in this midst of the real world’s dilemmas. To do this we must decide to follow Christ (Romans 12:1,2; Titus 2:11-14; Ephesians 2:10), and we must trust in His power (Proverbs 3:5,6; Psalms 127:1,2; Galatians 5:16).

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