S2EP66 - Integrity

Hello and Welcome to season 2 episode 66 of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes, or so, we are going to be looking at integrity.

In 2017 Vice President Pence was belittled and poked fun at when it became widely public knowledge that he required any aide working late night with him be male, that he never dines alone with a woman who isn’t his wife, and he wouldn’t attend events where there was going to be alcohol unless his wife was going to be with him.  The world scoffed at what the Vice President called “building a zone around your marriage.”  It was reframed in the media as a man who couldn’t be trusted to be alone with a woman lest he do something untoward.  The thing is, he had it absolutely right.

If I were to boil integrity down to one sentence it would be doing the right thing even when no one is watching.  It’s not because you’re afraid that you’ll do the wrong thing though.  You’re practicing the right thing when there is no outside pressure so that when you’re put under pressure you can stand up for what is right.

I can’t tell you how many times in the workplace with both Christian and Secular jobs I’ve been asked to break the law for the sake of the company.  It’s a modern epidemic.  Honestly, I can only think of one employer that never asked me to violate the law.  I remember one other employer only asking me once to violate the law and when I brought up that the action would be illegal, they seemed genuinely surprised they didn’t already know that, and we turned full circle taking another route.  Both of those I worked for at two different times in my life.  Most other employers just assigned the task that I had a problem with to another employee.  One employer, in particular, insisted they were doing nothing wrong, despite overwhelming outside voices telling them otherwise, and refused to reassign the task or let it go until they finally let me go for “insubordination.”  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the companies I’ve worked for that had the greatest commitment to integrity were the ones that came under the greatest scrutiny and suspicion from the public and governmental authorities, and the ones that had no concern about breaking the law behind closed doors seem to get praise from the public and never seemed to have any issues at all, or just got a slap on the wrist.

In the last couple of episodes, we talked about the heart, and I brought up more than once that we have a heart problem that needs to be dealt with.  The focus of this episode, integrity, is a natural extension of that issue.  Just to review, Jeremiah 17:9 CSB says, “[9] The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable – who can understand it?”  Romans 12:2 CSB tells us to, “not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,”  That word there, “mind,” is the word;

G3563 nous nooce Probably from the base of G1097; the intellect, that is, mind (divine or human; in thought, feeling, or will); by implication meaning; - mind, understanding.

Paul here is talking, not about our brain, but what we call the heart.  We must renew our heart.

In 2 Corinthians 4:1-3 Paul writes, “[1] Since we have this ministry because we were shown mercy, we do not give up.  [2] Instead, we have renounced secret and shameful things, not acting deceitfully or distorting the word of God, but commending ourselves before God to everyone’s conscience by an open display of the truth.  [3] But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.”  I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but integrity and deceit are not on the same side of the fence when we’re talking about light and dark, good and evil. Integrity = light, deceit = dark, integrity = good, deceit = evil.  Paul goes on in verse four to write, “[4] In their case, the god of this age (that’s little g) has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

That little g “god of this age,” that’s Lucifer, Satan, The Devil, whatever you want to call it.  The Devil has blinded the minds (and this time Paul does mean what we think of as the mind) of unbelievers.  It’s important to remember that unbelievers aren’t the bad guy, this is not an us vs them scenario.  All believers were at some point an unbeliever and it’s our duty to deliver an open display of truth and an unveiled Gospel to those unbelievers around us like someone did for us.

I’m going to use a sports analogy, in case you didn’t hear that, all the people who know me personally just gasped when they heard that statement.  I’m not a sports guy if anything I’m an anti-sports guy.  I don’t like anything about sports, I think it’s a huge waste of time and energy for the participants and the fans as well as a giant idol in billions of peoples lives, but I have to admit that it’s hard not to admire the athletic integrity.  You don’t really have to be into sports to know that those athletes don’t just step onto the field for the first time at the beginning of the game.  There are thousands and thousands of hours of preparation that go into preparing their body and mind to compete.

If I tried to go out there, in any sport, and compete on that level I would get creamed.  Anybody who tried to compete in any sport without a lick of preparation would get creamed.  It’s not reasonable then to expect to be able to live lives of “open displays of truth” day in and day out against the pressures of the world without first putting in the prep work exercising integrity in private.

I don’t know what areas you need to be practicing integrity in, but here are some that most people can relate to.  If you’re on a side road with a thirty-five mile an hour speed limit, next to a highway, there’s no residential area nearby and little to no chance that a police officer is going to see you, how fast do you drive?  No one will ever know.

You approach an intersection without a traffic camera and there’s no cop in sight as the light turns yellow.  You bear down on the gas increasing your speed to try and beat the light, only to have it turn red before you reach the intersection and you blow the light.  No one will ever know.

You get a gig earning enough that you should claim it on your taxes, but you were paid under the table and reporting now would cost you money you didn’t save to pay, and don’t have.  What do you do?  No one will ever know.

You’re eating dinner with your sweetie at Chili’s and the computer system goes down as you’re trying to pay causing your card to get charged twice and the credit company refuses both charges.  Do you go back the next week and pay your bill?  No one will ever know.

Conflicts of integrity happen on every level.  Practicing integrity takes place in the small, in the personal, in the private.

I found a quote this week and decided not to tell you who it was from.  It says, “Integrity gives you real freedom because you have nothing to fear since you have nothing to hide.”  Now, of course, that’s wrong.  The world doesn’t understand or respect integrity and it paints a bulls-eye on your back.  Driving that thirty-five mile an hour speed limit is going to get you honked at and flipped off more times than you care to remember.  Trust me, I know, I drive that road almost every day at thirty-five miles an hour.  Stopping at that light instead of trying to beat it is going to get you rear-ended.  I’ve seen it lots, driving out on the roads.  Claiming money on your taxes you made in that cash gig is going to get you audited in addition to the tax bill you’re going to have to pay.  Going back to pay your Chili’s bill, well I don’t know yet.  I’m going back to pay that tomorrow, but I’ll let you know at the Ekklesian House discussion of this episode how it goes when we meet on Sunday evening.

This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”

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