I want to talk just a little bit about integrity. Integrity is defined as the character quality of being above reproach, true to your word, and not compromising your principles even when you’re under fire. Those of us who are Christians should be people marked by integrity, especially when we’re under fire. If we waffle when the pressure is on, it hurts our witness and people shrug off the great message we stand for. If we fudge on integrity, the enemy uses it to dilute the power of the gospel we proclaim. For the sake of Christ who gave His life for His church, we who share the Word of God must strive to be people of integrity. Timothy was feeling the pressure to compromise. Timid and peace-loving by nature, he had to stand strongly against the false teachers in Ephesus. It would have been easy to water down essential truth in the name of peace and unity. So after exhorting him to fight the good fight of the faith and reminding him of the good confession he had made at his baptism, Paul (in 1 Timothy 6:13-16) gives a solemn charge to Timothy to maintain his integrity in his ministry above all else, even if it means persecution or death. He states the aim: to maintain his integrity under fire; and he gives three great facts which, if Timothy will stay aware of, will motivate him to such integrity: God’s presence; Christ’s coming; and, God’s sovereign supremacy. In other words, to maintain integrity under fire, live with an awareness of God’s presence, Christ coming and God’s sovereign supremacy. “I charge you ... keep the commandment without stain or reproach.” The question is what Paul means by “the commandment?” In light of the circumstance and the thrust of the whole book, the best view is that Paul means that Timothy maintains his personal integrity and that he discharges his ministry above reproach. He is charging Timothy before God that he live in such a manner that neither his personal life nor his ministry would bring any blot on the name of Christ. Such integrity rests on a foundation beneath the surface, where no one but you and God can see. That foundation is laid a brick at a time, as you live each day with your thoughts and private deeds laid bare before the God who sees all. Do you spend time each day alone with God, opening your heart to Him, allowing His Word to search the thoughts and intents of your heart? Do you judge sinful thoughts, confessing them to God and forsaking them as you seek, rather, to set your mind on the things above? No one sees your heart, except you and God. Integrity is built on judging and forsaking such thoughts and deeds. Whatever the secret sin, you’re building a life of integrity if you remember that God knows your heart, and you live in obedience to Him even though no other human being is watching. Jesus in the book of Matthew and Mark said that murder begins in the heart where anger, bitterness, and hatred go un-judged. So that’s where a life of integrity must be built a brick at a time. Such integrity is built in secret, but it manifests itself under fire. The pressure brings out what has been built in. The close association of God and Christ Jesus, plus the assumed omnipresence of Christ, point to Jesus’ deity. Paul reminds Timothy that both God the Father and Christ are listening in and watching as he gives this charge to Timothy. Keeping in mind the fact that God and Christ are always with us will motivate us to live each moment to please Him, whether or not anyone else is there. David said in Psalm 63, “I shall seek you earnestly; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh yearns for You....” Didn’t David have the Lord? Yes, because he calls Him “my God.” But he wanted more. He wanted to go deeper. He was satisfied, but he wasn’t satisfied. He knew that there was more and his whole being craved it as a thirsty man in the desert craves for water. To seek after God means that there is always more, because God is an infinite person. If you figure that you’ve reached a level of maturity in your Christian life where you can put it in neutral and coast, you’re in trouble! David had walked with God for years, but he thirsted for more. Putting God in the center of your life gives you balance and perspective in the crises of life. The person who seeks after God will be a person of strength and stability, a person with inner resources to meet every crisis in life. Your relationship with the Lord is comparable to a marriage relationship. Marriage is a relationship where intense feelings of passion and a lifelong commitment are intertwined. When a couple falls in love, there are strong feelings, and there is nothing wrong with that. But a marriage cannot be built on feelings alone, but on commitment. The commitment carries you through the hard times when the feelings may fade.Seeking after God means keeping your passion for God alive. Christianity is not just a matter of the head, but of the heart. As you think on what God has done for you in Christ, it ought to move you emotionally. As you reflect on His great love and faithfulness toward you over the years, in spite of your failures, you ought to feel love for Him. God isn’t just a spoke in the wheel; He’s the hub. God isn’t just a slice of life, who rounds out your other pursuits. Rather, God permeates every area of your life. He’s at the center of every decision you make. He’s the Lord of every relationship you have. You manage your money by considering what His Word says about it. There is no area of your life, be it your business, your family, your education, or whatever, where God is not an integral part. There is no division between sacred and secular; all of life is related to God.
Let’s pray: “Heavenly Father, Your Word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You; for it teaches me to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before You. Even when it brings about hurtful circumstances help me to do the right thing in keeping with the Christ-filled nature I received upon the day of my salvation. May I not be found lacking in integrity but rather be characterized by my integrity as it honors my Father in heaven. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”
One Simple Nugget:”Wisdom is knowing the right path to take……….integrity is taking it!”