I liken a life of Integrity to a life of holiness. It's a life that God has called us as the body of Christ to live. We have been called to the ministry of reconciliation and righteousness according to 1 Thessalonians 4:7 which says " For God did not call us to be impure , but to live a holy life." So we have been called to reconcile others back to God according to "2 Corinthians 5:18-21"
Our bible text is taken from 1 Thessalonians 4:1-7
God expects us as followers of Christ to bring others to the knowledge of Christ and holiness through our way of life (our thoughts , words, body language, and character). This is because we are the bible that the world reads. This means we cannot afford to live carelessly, we can't afford to disappoint God. Our destiny is tied to others, creatures await our manifestation. So we need to be careful as regards how we behave so as not to lead others a stray because their blood will be upon us if they are led astray through our character.
Before I move on, I would give us the literary definition of Integrity.
" Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. Integrity is a word that comes to play and is being tested all through our daily routines. But because we live carelessly, we fail these tests daily.
Scriptural definition of Integrity is " doing the right thing in God's sight, it's doing the right thing according to God's standard which is the word of God."
Note the phrase " according to God's standard, that is, God's words." This means that some things may seem right based on the world's ideologies, culture, emotions, influence of people that surround us,etc, but in God's sight, it's total foolishness if weighed with God's words.
The bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:19 that " the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written, He catches the wise in their craftiness."
So I encourage us to daily Read, Research, Receive, Remember and Reflect on God's words according to Joshua 1:8. This word of God will serve as authority over every of our decisions. When we have the word of God his in our heart, we would be enabled to discern what is right and acceptable to God in our daily encounters and routines.
It is God's wisdom gotten in God's word that makes us live a victorious life in this perverse world.
Before we move on, I would like to say that life is a test. Daily we get tested in one way or the other, it ranges from the simplest thing we can think of unto the pick of them all. Also, let's note that we don't get promoted without being tested.
The outcome of our tests determines our moving to the next level or not.
God permits us to get tested by the devil not to destroy us, but to prune and promote us. He wants us to develop in character, He wants us to mature in Christ Jesus , that's why He brings difficult people and situations your way.
Note, if you shy away from such, you frustrate God's works in you and until you stop being a coward by staying in that "School of Character Development " that Christ did put you; which has to do with those difficult people and times in your life, such that you pass such tests, you won't graduate to the next level, hence, no promotion.
So I encourage those of you who have some difficult bosses, spouses parents, friends, etc around you to stay rather than be a coward by resigning to get away from such bosses , avoiding such people, rather, you need become stronger to conquer. But, you would only develop this capacity in the place of prayer and diligent study and reflection on God's word through the help of the Holy Spirit.
Quickly, I would give us practical scenarios of ways in which our Integrity get tested...
1. We get tried in our tithings and offerings- Some of us are not trustworthy and faithful in giving our tithes. Some give their tithes, but don't give all because nobody knows what they earn, while some don't pay their tithes at all...
2. Situations whereby we did forget to pay for something we bought at a store or for service s rendered to us.
3. Whether or not we would remain true to our spouse even when they don't deserve it.
4. Whether we would keep record of the accurate time-in and time-out in our work place when no one is watching.
5. Whether we would do all we are meant to do at the right time without any reservation in our work place without no supervision.
6. If we make a mistake and a team's project get messed up or we miss a deadline, whether or not we would own up to our mistakes and not let other teammates take the fall, just to mention a few.
Reasons we fail the test of Integrity...
1. Fear of the unknown-
This fear makes us not to be courageous to own up to our mistakes such that we cover them up. But the scripture tells us in 1 John 4:18 that "the perfect love of Jesus casts out all fear" We can only become bold to own up to our mistakes when we behold the love of Christ through His word.
So if you find yourself being afraid, go to the word of God, it sets us free from all lies of the devil. Love the word of God more than your life.
Every human has this tendency to be proud due to ego,but through the help of the Holy Spirit, we live a Holy ghost controlled life, and not a pride controlled life. We begin to get humbled such that we get exalted in due time according to 1 Peter 5:6
A life that is right with God will not be puffed up, it will rather be humble regardless of its status. This will make it easy to acknowledge our fault and be the first to sincerely apologize whether we are wrong or not.
3. Life of contentment and perseverance
This kind of life will propel us to divert what's meant for office use for personal use. But the bible tells us in 1 Timothy 6:6 that "godliness with contentment is great gain" Knowing that we have Christ, that should make us content that we have everything because we have He that made and makes all things out of nothing as our Father. The bible tells us in Matthew 6:26 that "we are much more valuable than the birds of the air that neither sow nor reap or store away in barns, yet our heavenly Father feeds them, how much more we that are made in His image and likeness."
4. Laziness and Indiscipline
his would make us was to be paid for hours we didn't work for due to our recording of a false time-in and time-out at our work place and also not diligently do our jobs as we ought to without supervision.
As a follower of Jesus, we are meant to be disciplined soldiers of a disciplined master. He expects us do with all our might, whatsoever our hands finds according to Colossians 3:23. Our Lord Jesus has zero tolerance for laziness and Indiscipline.
Importance of Living a Life of Integrity
1. It's an instruction from God
God has instructed us to be holy as our heavenly Father is holy according to 1 Peter 1:15-16 and 1 Thessalonians 4:7. So we can't afford to live below God's standard of holiness because he won't bend his standard for any man.
2. We enjoy God's presence when we live a holy life.
This is because our God is too holy to behold sin, he can't reside in a temple (our body) full of sin. To enjoy God's presence always, we must be sanctified and consecrated unto God according to Psalms 41:11-12
3.We enjoy God's divine guidance when we are made right with him.
We no longer walk in darkness because the word of God illuminates our path such that we get clarity and solutions to those ambiguous things, things we have struggled for become easy.
The bible tells us in Proverbs 11:3 that "the integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity"
4.When we are right with God, we become His delight.
This means that in all we do, we bring pleasure to God by living a righteous life according to Proverbs 10:22
5. We get vindicated through righteousness.
There is no way darkness can overcome light, it has never happened and it will not. The truth will always prevail over lies no matter how long it takes. It pays to walk into the path of righteousness.
Even when we get framed and blackmailed, the bible does encourage us in 1 Peter 3:16 to "keep a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against our good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."
Lastly, what do we need do to live a life of Integrity, that is a life holy and pleasing to God?
1. We need thirst for daily in filling of the Holy ghost.
When we a re filled with the Holy Spirit, it births in us ability to do the impossible ordinarily. We see our lives becoming shaped into the life of Jesus Christ daily. Our priorities get rearranged. The works of the flesh, pride of life and the lost of the eyes begin to loose their hold over us. All things that concerns us begin to conform in obedience to Christ (Acts 1:8)
2. Study and meditate on God's word
To live a life of Integrity which pleases God, we must know the one that we want to please. We can't become what or who we don't know in depth. One of the ways we can know God is through consistent, deliberate and intentional study , meditation and reflection upon God's words. It's through God's word that we get equipped to live a victorious life on earth Joshua 1:8
3. To live a life of righteousness, our hearts need to be made right with God.
Since our heart is the center of all thoughts and activities, that is , where all thoughts begin and are processed such that we act upon our thoughts, we need guard our hearts with all diligence. The kind of heart we possess determines what becomes of us. No wonder proverbs 4:23 tells us to " guard our hearts with all diligence above all things , for it is the wellspring of life."
Note the phrase "above all things", the bible didn't use this phrase and choice of words for fun, it's to emphasise how delicate our heart is and warns us such that we become mindful of what we allow into our hearts through words, movies and all that we see and listen to, because we become things we allow into our hearts. They shape us either positively or negatively.
So we need do daily renewal of our mind such that we become transformed into who God wants us be, that is , his good , pleasing and perfect will according to Romans 12:2
4. We need covet the fruits of the Holy Spirit according to Galatians 5:22-23 such that we become like Jesus through living out these fruits.
With love, which is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, we begin to see others interests above ours such that we desist from being self-centered.
In conclusion, this life of Integrity (holiness) will become a struggle if one is not recognised as a son or daughter of God. The bible tells us that "as many that did receive Christ, He gives power to become the sons of God."
It is only when you have identified with Jesus that you can be made a Son or Daughter of God. It is then that you receive the power to live this life of holiness through the influence and help of the Holy Spirit.
This means a life that is not born again cannot live out this life of holineyou
If you to surrender your life to Jesus, please say this prayer "Lord Jesus, I come before you the way I am, I acknowledge my sins, I confess and forsake my old ways today, I ask that you come into my life and be my Lord and Saviour, I receive with faith the new life of righteousness you have bought for me through your bloodshed on the Cross of Calvary in Jesus mighty name, Amen."