Integrity. “And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” (John 17:19) You are who you are, where you were raised and by whom, the circumstances that have occurred in your life, either by the acts of others or yourself, the choices you have made and continue to make and much more have brought you today to who you are. But, are you always you?
I have heard it said that character and integrity is who you are when you are alone. My father had what I called a ‘telephone voice’, he would inflect his words differently when speaking on the telephone to someone than when in person, in fact, it seemed that nearly everyone saw or heard a different version of who my father was, or perhaps I should say who he wanted them to see, depending on the person he was speaking to. I believe that in the vast majority of people it is almost an unconscious act that they perform, to one they are sub-servient, to another dominant, to yet another compassion may be the attribute they reflect, then they will turn around and almost roar at the next person they meet. When, if ever, are they truly themselves, for I am in doubt in regard to these types of individuals if they even know themselves who they are, it seems that they are steered along a path too easily by others for other’s sakes.
Although I am not surprised when I meet this inadvertent character trait in the life of the unbeliever, nor fault them for it, when it come to the child of God, it always saddens me how easily they let others ‘pull their nose ring’ as it were, when they bow to the will of nearly every man. These “Love the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (1st Thess. 2:4), they know full well deep inside their hearts that they are going disobediently against the Word and will of God, and for their own glory they seek recognition for the endeavors and accomplishments that in truth God has blessed them with the ability to perform.
Read this quote from “Introduction to the Devout Life” by Francis De Sales; “An active effort to acquire virtue is the first step toward goodness; but an active effort to acquire honor is the first step toward contempt and shame. A well-conditioned mind will not throw away its powers upon such sorry trifles as rank, position or outward forms-it has other things to do and will leave all that to meaner minds. He who can find pearls will not stop to pick up shells; and so, a man who aims at real goodness will not be keen about outward tokens of honor.”
We are not growing in all that we can become in Christ if we are going in our own direction, choosing paths and then asking for His blessings, seeking others for self-recognition, believing that what they think about us is more important than what our Lord knows about us. Only the chosen people of God are individuals of true character and integrity, for these pray daily for the potter to continue molding them into the image of His Son, into men and women whose “yes means yes and no means no,” (Matt. 5:37) they are not driven by the wind and tossed about by either circumstances, the words of men, or the wiles of Satan, for their path has been set before them by our Glorious Savior, and in Him they find refuge and strength. What people say does not affect who they are, nor do they seek any other than the servants of God for advice and correction.
These are those that when you meet them are the same today as they were yesterday, perhaps even a little wiser, a little more humble, a little more forgiving and compassionate. They are not tossed about by the waves of circumstances, nor do words of discouragement or even hate deter them from the core of their being. These individuals have no problem being “all things to all men” (1st Cor. 9:22) while still grasping firmly their conviction to glorify God in all that they say or do, even unto the thoughts of their mind. Do they fall, yes, many times, but in Proverbs 24:16 we are told “a just man will fall seven times and rise up again.” Their strength is in the Rock of our salvation, not in any man, not even in themselves.
As far as I know, as much as the Grace of God has shown me at this point in my walk with Him, there are at least three key attributes that a believer must have to be a person of integrity, there are no exceptions. First, you must believe and understand in totality that God is sovereign, that He does what He wants when He wants, and that His way is always best. No one can take Him to court and challenge His will, (Job 9:32) no one can say that his own will and way is better than the will of God. (Prov. 19:21) If you think you are right and God is wrong, you are wrong. Secondly, we must always be obedient to His Word and Will, no exceptions. As much as His magnificent mercy and grace allows each of His children free expression, that individual expression in their walk with Him must be done in love for Him and Him alone, no selfish motivations can hamper this. He loves us so much, and though we have no right to approach His throne, He bids us to do so, and great reverence and awe should guide our steps.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, you cannot alter the path He has placed you on. “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62) One of my prayers for myself nearly every day is for our Lord to make me a profitable servant, a man of integrity who will not back down under the pressure of a society that is increasingly making Christians the target, to mold me into a man of character whose moral construct is based on the Word of God, not what the world says is okay today. To become more confident in who I am in Christ each day, not to be influenced by the people around me to marginalize what God has called me to be. The course He has laid before you is not only the one He desires you to travel, but it is the best for you and His Glory, and it is His glory that we should always seek.
This integrity is not in me, it can only be imbued by the Holy Spirit, for the world and all it offers, the “pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb 11:25) is a sirens call that no man by his own volition can avoid, and as for myself, it is only by being submissive to the Holy Spirit that I can even write these words, much less try to live them. One of the main character traits for a man of God is integrity, for it shows the world that we cannot be dissuaded, we cannot be moved off of the path by anyone but ourselves, and when we take ourselves out of the will of God, our hearts are broken, for we have hurt the one that loves us the most.
“Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2)
The one with the most integrity that ever lived now sits at the right hand of the Father, and he invites you to be where He is. A Christ-like character is what He demands, and it is our rightful duty to obey. A heart that desires to please God is a heart that obeys God.