Are you honest? More to the point, not do you intentionally lie–because most people who follow Jesus will not–but do you find yourself misrepresenting situations or not speaking up when there is a misunderstanding, simply because you are afraid–whether because of financial or other repercussions? Do you, in other words, exercise courageous integrity in all of your interactions?
“Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.” (Colossians 3:9-10)
God’s heart for His people is integrity. But what is integrity–what does it look like? Integrity is the courage, the resolve, to always, in all circumstances, do what is right–regardless of personal cost. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as 1) “firm adherence to a code of especially moral…values,” 2) “an unimpaired condition,” and 3) “the quality or state of being complete or undivided.” Yet this can remarkably difficult for the human heart.
Those of us who acknowledge the lordship of Jesus Christ no longer typically struggle with the concept of integrity–yet the execution of it can be difficult, especially when something of significance to us is at stake. We can find ourselves–we, who under other circumstances may be almost painfully honest–mentally calculating the cost of integrity. And that’s our clue–when we start to count the cost, making “provision for the flesh [our old fallen nature]” (Romans 13:14), something is wrong.
God, furthermore, has an amazing way of continuing to place us in situations that require us to make a decision–to make the more difficult right choice, or the easier wrong one–until we get it right. It’s His classroom, His learning experiences, that mold us more into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.
And the thing we must keep foremost in our minds when we are faced with difficult choices like these is the value of a clean conscience: we must guard our consciences at all cost, because, for a child of God a bad conscience is hellish. God’s Word tells us to continue “having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck.” (I Timothy 1:19) Violating our conscience can cause us shipwreck in our faith! It may cause us to doubt our eternal security and it can separate us from fellowship with Jesus and the Father–IT IS JUST NOT WORTH IT. As a matter of fact, NOTHING IS WORTH BEING SEPARATED FROM FELLOWSHIP WITH JESUS AND OUR HEAVENLY FATHER!
The fear that tempts our integrity to falter is typically that we will suffer some terrible harm we do not believe we can, or want to, handle, and the truth is– we might suffer harm, although our Lord is fully capable of getting us through it, if He allows it in the first place! Yet more often than not, the fear does not pan out–it is an instrument of temptation, and nothing more. When confronted with courageous truthful action, it flees.
Within the last four years I personally have had two such circumstances in my own life. One lasted four years; the second, fewer than four days–is it possible I am beginning to handle this more like my Lord and Savior wants me to handle it? And the fear that petrified me in both situations never materialized: once addressed truthfully, it was exposed as completely unsubstantiated!
So, are you genuinely honest? Do you exercise courageous integrity in all of your interactions? Make “no provision for the flesh,” guard your conscience–and fellowship with your Lord–at all costs, and recognize that it is God’s job, not yours, to get you either out of or through whatever situations He places before you. YOU must follow Him!
Help me “not lie to… [others] since…[I] have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.” (Colossians. 3:9-10) Amen.