Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4, NIV).
Friend to Friend
Mark really struggled with spelling. Staring at his spelling test, his heart sank. So many of the words seemed difficult and he wasn’t sure how to spell most of them. Softly the enemy whispered, “Look at Jane’s paper; she’s an honor student and always gets them right!”
Mark hesitated but, desperate to make a good grade, finally gave in to the tempter’s suggestion and copied several answers from Jane’s paper.
The teacher noticed Mark’s actions and was really surprised because she had always thought of him as an honest boy. When it came time to collect the completed work, she saw Mark’s inner struggle reflected on his face of anguish. Finally, Mark bowed his head for a moment and then suddenly ripped his test paper into pieces and sat back in his chair with a sigh. Even though he had first given in to the temptation to cheat, he finally decided to take a zero on the test rather than be dishonest.
Calling Mark to her desk, the teacher said, “Mark, I was watching you and I want you to know that I am very proud of you for what you did just now. Today, you passed a much more important test than a spelling test.”
As followers of Christ, we sometimes focus on developing and presenting the right image while neglecting the spiritual discipline of integrity. Our public lives are only as authentic as our private lives. Image is who and what people think we are while integrity is who and what we really are. Billy Graham once said, “Integrity is the glue that holds our way of life together. We must constantly strive to keep our integrity intact. When wealth is lost, nothing is lost. When health is lost, something is lost. When character is lost, all is lost.”
I have often heard it said that integrity is what you do when no one is watching or that character is best illustrated by how you treat people who can do absolutely nothing for you. Integrity is a heart issue and a spiritual habit that decides beforehand to do the right thing. Character counts. Integrity matters to God.
Matthew 5:8 (NIV) “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
1 Chronicles 28:9b “For the Lord searches every heart, and understands every desire and every thought.”
The word for “pure” means “ready for sacrifice.” In other words, the decisions and choices we make should be living sacrifices that are holy and acceptable to God as acts of worship. To have integrity means to live an integrated life. That integration occurs when what we believe, what we think, what we say and what we do are all consistent. In reality, image really is nothing without integrity and character to back it up.
Father, I come to You right now, asking You to examine my heart and show me every impurity hidden there. Search my desires and thoughts and show me the disobedience that breaks your heart and hinders my walk with You. I want to please You with every choice and decision I make, Lord. Forgive me for the hypocrisy in my life. I lay down my pride and my agenda and choose instead to seek and follow You.
In Jesus’ name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Memorize Psalm 51:10 that says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” As this verse becomes the consistent prayer of your heart, each choice and decision you make will begin to line up with God’s will. He will be honored, and you will experience a new power and purpose in your life. Continually ask yourself, “Will my choice make God smile?”