Apr 24, 2014

What is Integrity?

Proverbs 10:9  Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.

Cleveland Stroud was the coach of the Bulldogs of Rockdale County High School in Conyers, Georgia boys basketball team in 1987 when he led them to a state championship.  The championship game was a dramatic come-from-behind victory. 

One month after the victory Coach Stroud discovered that a player who was scholastically ineligible had played 45 seconds in the first of the school's five postseason games.  Stroud made school officials aware of the mistake and subsequently the team was deprived of the title and the trophy was taken from the case outside the high school gymnasium, never to be returned.  'We didn't know he was ineligible at the time; we didn't know it until a few weeks ago,' Mr. Stroud said. 'Some people have said we should have just kept quiet about it, that it was just 45 seconds and the player wasn't an impact player. But you've got to do what's honest and right and what the rules say. I told my team that people forget the scores of basketball games; they don't ever forget what you're made of.'"

Integrity is something that can come up missing in a lot of us.  It’s an important ingredient that we have a tendency to periodically leave out in our lives.  I don’t claim to be an integrity expert.  I have my own struggles with it from time to time, but I want to share with you a few things that I think that integrity is.

Integrity is Being You.
Psalm 139:14  for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

God made you.  He gave you the family you have.  The skills you have.  The looks you have.  The brains you have.  The background you have.  The upbringing you have.  The geographical location you have.  Own it.  Love it...He does.

You may not be as funny as some else, or as smart, or as cool, or as wealthy, or as adventurous, or as popular, or as attractive, or as skinny, or as strong, or as ‘important’, or as successful...you may not have thousands of facebook ‘friends’ and the paparazzi may not follow you around.  But listen, no one else is just like you.  God only made one of you and he did not make a mistake when he did.

We all have limits.  We all have short comings.  We all have things we would like to change, and things that we ought to change.  But there are some things about ourselves that we can’t change and we shouldn’t try to change.

Be yourself.  Just be yourself.  God made you and he made you the way you are for a reason, for a purpose.  Let him show you how he wants to use you.  The world doesn’t need another someone else...it needs you.

Integrity is doing what you say you will do.
Matthew 5:37  “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.”

Most of us know how to make a promise.  But few people know how to keep a promise.  Broken promises are a result of broken integrity.  We break integrity when we make promises that we do not intend to keep.  We break integrity when we make promises we do not have the ability to keep.  We break integrity when we make promises just to make another person feel good.  We break integrity when we forget promises that we’ve made.  Yes, some broken promises are accidental, and all broken promises need to be forgiven, but that does not negate the fact that broken promises leave damage behind.  Broken promises leave people disappointed, hurt, wounded, and scarred for life.  All of us can think of promises that were made to us that were broken.  Don’t be a promise maker if you can’t be a promise keeper.

Integrity is saying what you really did.
1 Samuel 12:2  I have walked before you from my youth until this day.

Integrity means there is no covering up, no manufacturing, no fabricating, and no exaggerating.  As we recall past accomplishments and achievements to friends and acquaintances there is a temptation to paint ourselves more impressive than we really were.  Do you know anyone who as they begin to tell you a story about their past accomplishments and experiences and you automatically don’t believe what they are saying?  I know people like this...to be honest I’ve been guilty of telling stories like this, full of exaggeration and “author’s liberty” hoping to impress someone or to humor someone.  A life built upon exaggeration and lies is like a house built with cards...it will come crashing down.  My mother use to always say, “What a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive.”  They only thing that can validate a lie is another lie. 

A person with integrity may not be able to impress people with their “incredible experiences” or “impressive accomplishments.”  But do know what is impressive about a person with integrity?  They are real.  And in a world of plastics, frauds, fakes, phonies, and wannabes...real is refreshing.

Real is Reliable.  Real is Honest.  Real is a good friend.  Real is a person you can trust.  Real is someone you can depend upon.

Be honest.  Be real.  Be you.  God’s promise is that if you will, you will “walk securely.”