I’ve been in the restaurant business for a very long time. Sometimes we use the term “food integrity.” We were referring to food that was whole and not corrupt. It was good food.
Assuring quality and authenticity in the food chain. Food Integrity “the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished or in perfect condition”. … The integrity of foods is under constant threat from fraudulently labelled imitations that try to exploit that added value.
This chapter discusses “human integrity.” Are we men of integrity? Are we consistent, solid (as in building integrity), and true? How rare is integrity! 91% of survey respondents in America admitted to lying regularly! 25% would abandon their families for 10 million dollars. 23% would become a prostitute for a week. Over half admit they regularly call in sick when they are not. These statistics are staggering.
They show an undermining of character and truth in our culture. Character matters and even little breaches of character undermine the whole. I once heard a story about a woman who was asked if she would be a prostitute for 1 million dollars. She said she probably would. Then she was asked if she would for $10. She was outraged and said, “What kind of woman do you think I am?” The questioner answered, “we’ve already established that, now I’m just finding out your price.”
There is No Difference.
Men, are you men of integrity that are solid no matter the price? Two other points that are eye-opening. First, statistics show that the bulk of the blame for declining ethics and integrity is on the men. Second, “there is little statistical difference between the ethical practices of the religious and the nonreligious.” There were some exceptions, but Christians are almost as likely as non-Christians to do the following:
- Falsify tax returns
- Bribe to get a building permit
- Illegally copy a computer program
- Steal time
- Exaggerate a produce
- Tell people what they want to hear
- Selectively obey traffic laws
As we read this list and the statistics, the goal is not to think of all the people we know that this applies to, but to use it as a mirror into our own lives.
Let’s take us to look at what God has to say about integrity. The story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 serves as a serious reminder to the importance of integrity. They lied to the church and to the Holy Spirit and they paid for it with their lives. “Deception wounds the Body of Christ – makes it dysfunctional – and is a sin against God!” Acts 5:4 says, “You have not lied to man but to God.” When we see our deceptions not just as little untruths against each other, but as lies against God, we begin to see the seriousness of the problem.
Integrity goes far beyond just a simple question of lying or not. The Church needs people who not only refrain from blatant lying, but are free from hypocrisy. Are our lives consistent and true in every area?
So what does integrity look like? Psalm 15 gives great picture.
1 O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart;
3 who does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbor,
nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
but who honors those who fear the LORD;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
5 who does not put out his money at interest
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.
- Integrity demands that all speech be intentionally true. (Eph 4:15)
- A man of integrity never cheats, steals or defrauds. (Prov 20:10, 11:1, 20:17)
- A man of integrity keeps his word. (Psalm 15:4, Gal 5:22) Do we follow through? Are we faithful? Do we do what we say?
- A man of integrity is a man of principle. He has the courage to stand up for what is right no matter the cost.
We need Men of Integrity
This is a list that is challenging for every one of us every day! We need to understand that while integrity may be costly, it also has its rewards. It produces good character. As we are known as men of character, we are reflecting God’s glory. When we are men of integrity, the world can’t help but take notice. “We can hardly overstate the importance of integrity to a generation of believers which is so much like the world in its ethical conduct. The world is dying for us to have integrity!” Other wonderful benefits include a good conscience (which helps in so many areas) and greater intimacy with God.
Just DO it!
I am reminded of Nike’s slogan, “JUST DO IT!” Stop lying, deceiving, being hypocritical, not following through, and not taking a stand. We must be committed to God’s Word and that His Word is the standard by which we live. That is the line! “Not doing something for the first time is a tremendous bulwark against not doing it later.”
Being disciplined enough to immediately admit when we have been careless with the truth will also help us be disciplined in integrity. It only takes a couple of times of going back to someone and admitting that we were not entirely truthful, to make us think about it before we speak!
Call to Action
Men, let’s make honesty a habit and be men of integrity. Let’s be solid, truthful, and consistent not even letting the little deceptions come into play. Integrity isn’t integrity unless it applies to our whole man. This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about integrity and I doubt it will be the last. It is one of our struggles as men and one of our greatest opportunities to shine brightly for our Lord.
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