Men of of Integrity
Do you know what the only man-made structure that can be
observed from the space shuttle is? Does anybody know? I
heard somebody say it, the Great Wall of China. The wall
that took the ancient Chinese years and years to build to
hold off invasion from the barbaric hordes from the North.
It covers hundreds and hundreds of miles. They built it so
thick that you couldn't break through it, so long you
couldn't go around it, so high that you couldn't get over
it. But did you know that within the first hundred years
after it was finished, China was invaded three times by the
barbarians to the north. They didn't go over the wall. They
didn't go around it, they didn't go under it, they didn't
go through it. Do you know how they got in? All three times
they bribed the gatekeeper and they walked in.
So often we put so much emphasis in money on how to govern
and defend ourselves, but so little attention to the
character of the people who must lead that defense.
Whatever a man may build, whether it's a business or a
nation or an empire, if he doesn't build his own character,
he has failed in life. A lack of integrity has always
existed in the world and today is no exception.
If God has fashioned men to lead their families, to lead
the church, to lead their communities, he obviously expects
them to take the lead in modeling integrity.
1. What is
What are we talking about? Webster's Dictionary defines it
as: "The quality or state of being complete," and then
gives "wholeness" as a synonym. That's a good definition
because that's exactly what the Bible says integrity is. In
the Old Testament, the word translated "integrity" in the
Hebrew is, "thom," and it literally means,
Integrity by its very nature implies consistency. It means
being sound, faithful, truthful, through and through, top
to bottom. Integrity in one's life means that truth
characterizes their whole life.
Do you remember your high math class you learned that an
integer was a whole number, like 1 or 2 or 23. It's never a
fraction - 1 5/8 is not an integer. An integer is whole and
complete, and it comes from the same root word. A man of
integrity doesn't live a fractured life. It's not
splintered by double-mindedness.
Most men are honest in some things however a few have
difficulty telling the truth. But a man of integrity is
honest about all things.
Chuck Swindoll, some time ago, told a story, true story. It
happened in the southern California area about a man who
went through a drive-thru at a chicken restaurant. The man
and the woman went through and they ordered chicken, like a
four-piece dinner, and it was handed to them and they drove
off. Come to find out, the man who was filling their order
had taken a box where they had emptied the proceeds from
one of the cash registers. There was over $800 in cash in
that. And that was the box handed to the man who went
through the drive-thru. Well, the manager was beside
himself. He said, "We'll never see that money again."
Well, when the couple stopped for their picnic and opened
it up, he realized there had been a mistake. And the man
closed the box, drove back to the chicken place, and said,
"There's been a mistake, we got a box full of money." The
manager was so impressed. He said, "That's fantastic! I
never thought I'd see it again." He said, "Let me call the
newspaper. I want your picture made, a picture of the most
honest man in town." The man said, "No, I can't do that. I
can't do that." He said, "No, no, we really need a picture
of the most honest man in town." Finally, the fellow took
the manager over to the side and said, "You don't
understand." He said, "The woman I'm with is not my wife. I
don't want my picture made."
Integrity means truth characterizes your whole life. It is
to let every area of your life be governed by God's truth.
Now Jesus is our perfect example in every regard, isn't he?
"They came to him and said, 'Teacher, we know that you are
a man of integrity. You aren't swayed by men, because you
pay no attention to who they are;...'" (Mark 12:14) Jesus
didn't let men decide what was going to be true today.
Jesus let God decide what was going to be true
That same Lord taught "The one who is faithful in little,
is the one who is going to be faithful in much." (Luke 16)
You see that is the completeness of integrity, and men like
that are rare. But, the difference they make in this world
2. How does one
become a man of integrity?
Integrity starts in the heart. That's where you go. Jesus
taught "The good man brings good things out of the good
stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things
out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the
overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45)
Whatever is on the inside is just going to come to the
Solomon said in "As water reflects a face, so a man's heart
reflects the man." (Proverbs 27:19) When we fail
spiritually or morally, we want to do is talk about the
external. How do we develop the willpower to fix that? How
can I stop from doing that next time? We need to go inside.
I found that we violate the integrity of the heart, long
before we ever violate the command. The heart by itself is
easily lured into deceit and sin. Jeremiah said, "A man
can't trust his own heart." And that's true. But you see
the Christian has living in his heart the Spirit of God.
And the Spirit of God takes up residence in a Christian for
the purpose of making them more Christ like and to bear the
fruit we read about in Galatians 5 of love and joy and
peace and faithfulness and self control. Integrity begins
in the heart and God equips the Christian to have a heart
that can have it. Therefore, we need to guard our hearts.
Before we better guard what we let in, we'd better guard
what we keep out. Integrity begins in the heart.
Once the heart is quickened by the spirit, then integrity
is born out in our lifestyle. The classic example is
Daniel. Remember Daniel, the captive prince? Daniel was a
captive prince first under the Babylonians and then under
the Persians. "Now Daniel so distinguished himself among
the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional
qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole
kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried
to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct
of government affairs, but they were unable to do so." It
goes on to say, "They could find no corruption in him,
because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor
negligent. Finally these men said, 'We will never find any
basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has
something to do with the law of his God.'" (Daniel 6:3)
Now that's integrity. Daniel was genuine, he was honest, he
was righteous through and through. He was consistent in his
personal life and in his professional life. These men even
hired spies to watch him for days on end to see if they
could catch him in any breach of his integrity. By the way,
I don't know if Daniel knew that he was being spied upon,
but I do know that Daniel was not unaccustomed to being
watched. For Daniel lived his life knowing that everyday
that God was there with me looking at him 24 hours a day
whether anybody else was there or not. The spies reported,
"there's nothing there and the only way you're ever going
to trap this man is if you can find some way to trap him on
the basis of his faith." So they set up a trap. They went
to Darius the king and they tickled his ears [flattered
him]. They said, "Darius, we want to make you a god for a
month." Darius liked that idea. He had an ego. Therefore
for the next 30 days, the only way anybody can pray, was to
pray to him."
"Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been
published, he went home to his upstairs room where the
windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got
down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God,
just as he had done before." (Daniel 6:10) It didn't stop a
Now I know you the rest of the story. He was caught in the
trap and they threw Daniel into the lion's den. "That is a
great story," because it was the story of a man who kept
his integrity. That's integrity that begins in the heart,
that's borne out in the life.
Fruits of integrity
1. Men of
integrity keep their promises. They keep their
promises. Sadly, we live in an age where a man's word
doesn't mean much anymore.
Today if it isn't in writing with 500 lawyers behind it, it
doesn't mean anything anymore. And people that's sad.
Because a real man ought to be the kind of man who brings
certainty to the world by the power of his word. In fact, a
major facet of that colossal statement in Genesis 1:27 that
"we are made in the image of God," is a fact that you and I
can make and keep promises, and we alone in all creation
can do that. God does that. One thing that God hates, he
hates broken promises. "The integrity of the upright guides
them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity."
(Proverbs 11:3) There are seven things listed in Proverbs
6:16-19 that God hates, and one is a lying tongue. The
reason God hates duplicity, and the reason he hates the
lying is because it's so contrary to his nature for above
all else, our father is truthful and faithful. You go
through the Bible and when God says, "I will do this," you
don't find him turning around and saying; "Hey, I don't
know what I was thinking; times have changed, and I just
don't feel the way I used to feel." God is looking for a
few good men who will keep promises, who will be faithful
to their wives and faithful to their children, faithful to
their bosses, faithful to Him.
2. Men of
integrity maintain their values. They don't let the
latest poll or the latest headline determine their values.
Job is the great example that I think of from the Old
Testament. "Then the Lord said to Satan, 'Have you
considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like
him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and
shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though
you incited me against him to ruin him without any
reason.'" (Job 2:3) Remember he lost his wealth, his
prestige, and his family. God allowed Satan to take those
from him. A man of integrity does not allow a changing
environment to change his standards.
Nobody takes your character from you. They may take your
money, they may take your job, they may take your
reputation, they may take your fame, and they may even take
your life, but they cannot take your character. You're the
only one who can throw that away. I believe God's man would
rather die with conviction than live with compromise. I'll
tell you something about real men of God. They don't own
the world, but they sure won't sell out to the world.
3. Men of
integrity are protected by God.
I know as I'm talking about integrity, some of you are
thinking, "Well, preacher you don't understand, you live in
some kind of ivory tower. You don't understand how it is
when you're selling out there when it's dog eat dog. You
just don't understand. You don't know what it's like.
You've got to get down and get dirty and get muddy." I
don't want to go into this, but I guarantee you that in my
profession you can be called upon and tempted to compromise
your integrity as much doing this as anything anybody else
here does. I promise you.
God has made promises through his word that if you will
stand tall, and you will stand firm that he will bless you.
"The man of integrity walks securely,..." (Proverbs 10:9)
"Righteousness guards the man of integrity,..." (Proverbs
13:6) "In my integrity you uphold me and set me in your
presence forever." (Psalm 41:12) That's not to say there
won't be bumps in the road; or somebody won't give you a
hard time or that you won't be fired, But "I bet you're
never thrown into a fiery furnace or a lion's den." Be a
person of integrity. God says, "I see, I protect, and I
reward." What the Bible is saying is, you protect your
integrity, and your integrity will protect you.
David prayed in Psalm 7:8 "Judge me, O Lord, according to
my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most High."
Can you pray that prayer? Can you say, "Judge me O Lord
according to my integrity, according to my holiness, my
consistency?" That's the prayer we all want to be able to
pray. Program #1209 - Steve
Flatt May 21, 1995
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