The Cost of Integrity
Jun 17, 2013
You don’t have to be a Christian to have integrity, but you can’t be a Christian without it.
“TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND LEAN NOT ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING; IN ALL YOUR WAYS ACKNOWLEDGE HIM, AND HE WILL DIRECT YOUR PATHS.” PROVERBS 3:5-6
Integrity comes in many different forms. You don’t have to be a Christian to have integrity, but you can’t be a Christian without it. Integrity is the corner stone of our faith, and one of the building blocks of Christian character. Why is integrity important for Christian who follows Christ?
In 1 Samuel 12:1-4 we see Samuel’s farewell speech to the people of Israel who wanted a king for themselves, so they could be like other nations. Samuel is saying goodbye, and he’s also giving a reality check to the people of Israel. Note what he said, in verse 3, “I stand here testify against me in the presence of the Lord and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these. I will make it right.”
Now that’s integrity! I had to ask myself, "Do I have that kind of integrity in me?" Here is my answer to that question:
A few weeks ago I picked up an acquaintance from the shelter. We were going downtown to attend a men’s breakfast meeting. I noticed the way he was dressed, so I decided to take him back to my place to wash up and put on some fresh clothes. With that out the way, we headed for downtown, and before we walked to the el station we stopped for coffee, and that’s when things seemingly went wrong. I gave him $20 to pay for coffee as I went into the restroom.
As I was coming out of the restroom the woman behind the counter said,"$5.12, please." What $5.12?!?! As I looked around, the guy that I brought with me was nowhere in sight. I was hurt and upset with him. I kept thinking, how could he do this to me! Wait until I catch him, I am going to give him a piece of my mind! Now, I didn’t have to take him home or buy him coffee, but I thought it would make it easier for him to be around the other men at the breakfast, but the truth was I was really looking out for myself. I didn’t want the other men to see him dressed like he was because he was with me.
Now look with me at 1 Samuel 15:24, which says, "I have sinned, Saul admitted. I disobeyed both you and the Lord. I was afraid of the army, and I listened to them instead." Like Saul, I admitted I was afraid of how the men would perceive me if I brought him in dressed like he was, and my fear placed him in a situation with $20 dollars in his hand, and me forgetting that money is a trigger for him. I ran into him a few days after that, and we talked about what took place that Thursday morning. I asked him to forgive me for putting him in harms way. I explained to him that it wasn’t his integrity in question, but my integrity for not accepting him the way he was.
With tears in his eyes looking down he said, “Thank you, Larry, anyone else would have just beat me up for running off with their money.” It’s interesting how I was able to see the lack of integrity in him, yet was blinded by the lack of integrity in me. So what’s the moral of this story? The moral of the story is that as Christians we must remember that integrity is about living authentically and honestly with ourselves and everyone around us. To live this way may cost us $20, an apology or even more, but we must be willing to get a reality check on our own heart condition and character, not just criticize someone else's actions.