A Life of Integrity
A Life of Integrity
A number of years ago the Douglas Aircraft company was competing with Boeing to sell Eastern Airlines its first big jets. War hero Eddie Rickenbacker, the head of Eastern Airlines, reportedly told Donald Douglas that the specifications and claims made by Douglas’s company for the DC-8 were close to Boeing’s on everything except noise suppression. Rickenbacker then gave Douglas one last chance to out-promise Boeing on this feature. After consulting with his engineers, Douglas reported that he didn’t feel he could make that promise. Rickenbacker replied, “I know you can’t, I just wanted to see if you were still honest.”
· What makes the difference between someone you admire and a person who disappoints?
· What causes you to change your view on a person?
· What is it that causes you to loose respect for someone?
· What is it that can ruin our witness?
· Spend any time with someone else and you will soon discover what makes them tick.
· You will begin to understand if what they do and say matches up with what they believe.
· This is the essence of integrity. We may not be able to always control what others think of us but we can be people who are trustworthy.
· We can be people who honor Christ and the relationship we have with him and demonstrate this in how we proclaim Christianity to others.
· In the end we do not have much if we do not have integrity. If our character is tainted or spoiled it is pretty difficult to regain it.
· So what does God consider some of the qualities of a person of integrity?
· Psalm 15 gives a good understanding of what it means to have a character that pleases God.
Why should we live a life of Integrity? (15:1)
15:1 Lord, who may be a guest in your home? Who may live on your holy hill?
· The Psalm attributed to David opens with a simple question seeking to understand who may have fellowship with God.
· It is a question that every person serious about life must ask. What am I here for? Why do I exist?
· I come out of womb, get wiped, burped and changed, grow up, get a job, raise a family, retire, spend time with grandchildren, get wiped, burped and changed, and die. What is the point?
· Why should I try to be a moral person? Why does it make a difference whether I treat others with dignity?
· What do I have to gain by thinking of others before myself? Why should I be a good husband, wife, mother, father, child or student?
· David asks a similar question. Who is good enough to enter God’s tent. Who has the integrity, the noble life, the moral existence to be in the presence of God in all his majesty?
· The very question is much deeper than we may at first realize for it presumes that any meaning in life, any person who wants more out of this life should be wondering where God is in it all.
· It leads its readers to ask another question. Why would I want to be a guest in God’s home, why would I want to be in God’s presence continually?
· It asks more. What is needed for me to be in God’s presence? What allows me to be included in God’s home and family? What must I be like in order to enter God’s presence?
· While in the form of a question that seems to not relate to the issue of this psalm the question asked by David is asking a question about the essence of why we are created.
· It asks a question about why it is important that we live a life of integrity. The final answer is only given in verse 5 but David wants to spark our interest, get us to reflect deeper on who we are and why we do the things we do.
Greyhound racing, a popular betting sport in some parts of the country, attracts crowds who enjoy watching incredibly sleek and beautiful dogs run as fast as they can around a track. Unlike racehorses, greyhounds run without the assistance of a jockey. To keep the dogs running in the right direction, they are trained to chase a mechanical rabbit made of fur as it zips along the track in front of them. A man in the press box electronically controls the speed of the rabbit, keeping the rabbit just out in front of the dogs. The dogs never catch up to it. At a Florida track some years back, a big race was about to begin. The dogs crouched in their cages, ready to go, while betting spectators finished placing their wagers. At the proper moment, the gun went off. The man in the press box pushed his lever, starting the rabbit down the first stretch, while the cage doors flew open, releasing the dogs to take off after the little rabbit. As the rabbit made the first turn, however, an electrical short in the system caused the rabbit to come to a complete stop, to explode, and to go up in flames. Poof! All that was left was a bit of black stuff hanging on the end of a wire. Their rabbit gone, the bewildered dogs didn’t know how to act. According to news reports, several dogs simply stopped running and laid down on the track, their tongues hanging out. Two dogs, still frenzied with the chase, ran into a wall, breaking several ribs. Another dog began chasing his tail, while the rest howled at the people in the stands. Not one dog finished the race.
· Are we asking the right questions or are we living life thinking we have the answers?
· What is your purpose and how does that purpose affect how you live?
· Maybe you have not thought much about it. The question we then need to ask ourselves is how has the purpose of others shaped our lives? We are all going in a direction either passively or actively we are fulfilling a purpose.
What Kind of life must we live? (15:2)
15:2 Whoever lives a blameless life, does what is right, and speaks honestly.
· Verse 2 has three clauses that provide for us a general overview of what it means to live a live of integrity.
· What does it mean to live a blameless life? Does it mean that we can never do anything wrong? Could any of us ever hope to be a person of integrity worthy of being in God’s presence if we are to be completely blameless?
· Can we be people who always do what is right? Is it reasonable that we can go through our entire lives without ever making a mistake? What is God calling us to do? How can he expect so much?
· The third clause is better translated “and speaks honestly from the heart” providing us with the idea that the source of integrity and a place before God must have a heart that is true, righteous and blameless. What we say should be the product of our pure heart.
· How can we ever always have a heart that is pure? Is there any hope for us before God?
· This verse uses three words that demonstrate the direction our lives should take. We are instructed to live (or walk), do (our actions) and speak (our words) in such a way that has integrity. A life of integrity allows us to be close to God.
· Being blameless, righteous and honest in our hearts are all trying to reinforce the same thing.
· So our question is still before us. How can any of us possibly live up to this?
· It is important for us to understand that the word blameless has a range of meaning. Often it was used to describe the sacrificial lamb worthy of being offered. It has also refered to a life that is considered not guilty and held to account. It refers to that which is undamaged. The meaning that is being used in this psalm is one that defines blameless as “one who’s heart is completely undivided.” Psalm 119:80:
May I be fully committed to your statutes, so that I might not be ashamed.
· The life of integrity is one that is completely undivided, it has no other focus, intent or purpose. We need to be undivided in our life, actions and words.
· What does it mean to be undivided? What is God expecting of us if we are to live a life that is not distracted and concerned with things more than Him?
There is a story involving Yogi Berra, the well-known catcher for the New York Yankees, and Hank Aaron, who at that time was the chief power hitter for the Milwaukee Braves. The teams were playing in the World Series, and as usual Yogi was keeping up his ceaseless chatter, intended to pep up his teammates on the one hand, and distract the Milwaukee batters on the other. As Aaron came to the plate, Yogi tried to distract him by saying, “Henry, you’re holding the bat wrong. You’re supposed to hold it so you can read the trademark.” Aaron didn’t say anything, but when the next pitch came he hit it into the left-field bleachers. After rounding the bases and tagging up at home plate, Aaron looked at Yogi Berra and said, “I didn’t come up here to read.”
· Search the Scriptures regarding the focus of our lives and what do we find? He calls us to fix our eyes on Jesus. He tells us about the dangers of embracing the ways of the world. He admonishes us about getting caught up in the purpose of others.
· We are called to a life of integrity…that kind of life seeks to keep our eyes fixed on Christ.
How do we live a blameless life? (15:3-5a)
15:3 He does not slander, or do harm to others, or insult his neighbor. 15:4 He despises a reprobate, but honors the Lord’s loyal followers. He makes firm commitments and does not renege on his promise. 15:5 He does not charge interest when he lends his money. He does not take bribes to testify against the innocent.
· The psalm goes from a general statement about what should be the focus of our lives to providing for us specific things we should do.
· It is interesting that the life that is marked by integrity, able to be considered blameless and able to enter into relationship with God is measured by how we relate to others.
· The psalm could have given us numerous instructions about how we need to conduct ourselves before God but the focus is on how we treat others.
· Verse 3 identifies the person of integrity as being someone who desires to treat people with dignity and respect.
Ø We are instructed to be people who do not slander others. What does he mean by slander? It means that he does not speak words that do harm to the reputation of others. Basically it is gossip.
Ø It is interesting that another meaning of the Hebrew word ragal is that of explore or spy in a covert manner. How often is gossip something where we try to find out information and make conclusions just the same as a spy.
Ø What is the result of gossip? What is the affects of talking about others behind their back? What happens to a person when others are telling stories about their values, actions and motives?
Ø The person of integrity vows to do no harm to a person and not to disgrace others.
Ø The verse describes two people for which we slander; those who live amongst us and also the person we call friend. Gossip is never acceptable no matter who it is whether we speak it, think it or allow it to happen around us
· Verse 4 describes a person of integrity as someone that does not find value in associating with those who are despised or rejected but wants to be in the presence of fellow believers.
Ø So what does this mean, should we never spend any time with unbelievers? How does this work with the great commission? How do I go to school or work if that is the case?
Ø What the psalm means by despising is that we should think lightly or place little value not in the person as a creation of God but it their values and actions.
Ø The rejected one or reprobate refers to limiting or avoiding an association with others who are not of integrity.
Ø Our interaction with others should be limited when their values, beliefs and actions are inconsistent with Christian principles. The person of integrity does not try to emulate or copy such persons.
Ø The alternative is to spend our time in fellowship with those who show a profound respect for God. Those who fear God and follow his ways are worth copying.
· The second part of verse 4 states that a person of integrity is one that is concerned for the welfare of others even to their own demise. It literally says “he takes an oath and does not change it even if it gives pain.”
Ø When we make a promise, affirm the truth of statement or say we will do something it is our obligation to keep it.
Ø This should warn us not to make promises too quickly. We can easily ruin our integrity by being people who are not trustworthy.
Ø The person of integrity is willing to stand behind their promises so much so that even when it may inconvenience them, cost them money or change their plans it has to be kept.
· The first part of verse 5 describes a person of integrity as one that tries to help others without repayment.
Ø The OT occasion for lending money was to help someone who was financially hurting. It was often given to the poor.
Ø What was not encouraged was charging interest especially at rates that made repayment nearly impossible.
Ø A person of integrity should desire to help others without finding means to gain something from it. The person of integrity does things with a servant attitude.
· The second part of verse 5 describes a final mark of a person of integrity as a person does not take bribes and gives false testimony against another person.
Ø A bribe is described as gift given to someone to attain special favor or to get special consideration.
Ø A person of integrity would never accept a gift of any kind in order to give special consideration to someone against another person.
I’m sure you’ve heard the old story about the two men who met on the street. One said to the other, “Have you heard about Harry? He embezzled the company out of half a million dollars.” The other man said, “That’s terrible; I never did trust Harry.” The first man said, “Not only that, he left town and took Tom’s wife with him.” The other man said, “That’s awful; Harry has always been a ne’er-do-well.” The first man said, “Not only that, he stole a car to make his getaway.” The other man said, “That’s scandalous; I always did think Harry had a bad streak in him.” The first man said, “Not only that, they think he was drunk when he pulled out of town.” The other man said, “Harry’s no good. But what really bothers me is, who’s going to teach his Sunday school class this week?”
· A life guided and directed towards God; one that has purpose and meaning must be concerned with how we conduct our lives. A character of integrity cannot be compromised.
What is our reward for a life of Integrity? (15:5b)
The one who lives like this will never be upended.
· This psalm is summed up in the third part of verse 5.
· Up to this point the psalm has asked us what should be the most important purpose or focus in our lives.
· He has told us that living a blameless life; one that seeks to place God as first in our lives needs to be demonstrated by integrity
· A life of integrity is concerned treating people with respect, being influenced by those who love God, keeping promises and being fair to others.
· At this point it would seem clear as to why we should do this. It seems simple that if a life integrity gives us access to God than what more could there be?
· The final clause of verse 5 says that a person who lives with integrity will not be shaken, upended, toppled, defeated, or slip.
· This steady position is assured to not be for a short time but forever.
· If you maintain your integrity God will hold you up. Even when others may try to tear you down , accuse you falsely or doubt your faith, you can stand because you have fulfilled the requirements God has set.
A free Christian should act from within with a total disregard for the opinions of others. If a course is right, he should take it because it is right, not because he is afraid not to take it. And if it is wrong, he should avoid it though he lose every earthly treasure and even his very life as a consequence.
A. W. Tozer (1897–1963)
A person who lives right and is right has more power in his silence than another has by words. Character is like bells which ring out sweet notes, and which, when touched—accidentally even—resound with sweet music.
Phillips Brooks (1835–1893)
· So if someone were to get to know you would they admire your integrity?
· Do you walk the halls of school or sit in class and are able to say that I treat others with respect, and are trustworthy, doing as you claim to be believe?
· Are people attracted to Christ because of what you do?
· Do your children see that you do what is right and noble?
· The person wanting to have a close relationship with God must be a person of integrity in our relationships with others.