Monday, November 3, 2014

The Choice of Integrity

            Every day each one of us is faced with choices that need to be made. We choose which outfits we are going to put on, we choose whether we are going to have coffee and donuts for breakfast or have a healthy smoothie instead. Every day we are faced with choices. As I was praying this morning I realized that some of my choices lately have not been very good ones, that some of these choices have resulted in sin before my God. This led me to a place of humble repentance before my God as I laid my heart open before Him. It brought me to a place where I asked the Lord to examine my integrity.
            Integrity is a word that should cause all of us to sit up and take notice. For us, as Christians, we should all be walking before the Lord in the integrity of our hearts daily. But what does integrity have to do with the choices we make every day? Do we walk with integrity before God and before man? And, if integrity is so imperative to our walks, then how do we know we are walking in integrity? Good question! I asked the same thing myself.
            Integrity means to be innocent of mind, it means to live uprightly, and it also means to walk blameless before God and before man. Integrity is the equivalent to honesty, sincerity, and genuineness. Now, if you are like me, when you read these definitions you know immediately that you have not walked in integrity, not all the time anyway. And besides, who on this earth is blameless before God? Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” There is no one blameless before God, so then how can we walk blameless or with integrity before God if that is the case?
            Our integrity begins in the choices we make every day. Do we walk blameless before God in our choices? Each one of us is given choices to make. We choose to lie or tell the truth. We choose to encourage that sister in the Lord, or we choose to gossip about her behind her back. We choose to serve God or we choose to serve ourselves. We have the choice to love someone or hate someone. We have the choice to forgive that person who just hurt us, or hold onto that hurt until it turns into bitterness. We choose to either walk in integrity, or we choose to walk in our sins.
            My mom used to tell me that no one could make me do anything, or make me feel anything- I alone was the keeper of my own body and my own choices. I never really understood what she meant by that until much later in my life. She was right. I choose to be angry at my husband, or I choose to have patience with him and show him love. I choose. No one chooses for me. I choose. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that “No temptation has overtaken you except such is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
            When we are faced with the choice to sin, or to walk away, no one else makes that choice for us but ourselves. No one forces you into choosing sin- you alone are in control of that choice. God is the Author and Finisher of our lives. He is the One and only One who is in complete and utter control of every aspect of your life. But, He also gave you the ability to have free will. You alone choose whom you will serve; God does not force you to any one direction. All throughout the Bible He tells us to “choose this day whom you will serve.”  With the choices that are before us there is always a way of escape. God never leaves us hanging. He always gives us the option to either choose Him or choose sin. No one is to blame for our choices but us.
            Go all the way back to Genesis 3 in the Garden of Eden. Eve is faced with a choice. She could either choose to take the fruit that was offered to her, or she could turn away from it. She was not forced into taking anything- she chose to take it and eat of it. She chose to sin. Adam as well, he chose to take the fruit that Eve, his wife, offered to him. He could have told her no- he could have called out to God for His help and advice, for His strength to resist the temptation, but he didn’t. He alone chose to take the bite that threw every single man, woman and child on the face of this earth into sin. No one forces you to make the decisions you make- you alone are responsible before God for your choices.
            Our integrity is compromised through the choices we make. When we choose to lie to our boss about being sick and call into work, we have chosen to walk in our ways and not in integrity before our God. When I stand before my God, I will answer for the choices that I have made, I will answer for the way I walked before Him. No one is to blame for our choices, except us. Adam tried to blame the reason for his sin upon Eve. (Genesis 3:12) But what did God say? Did He look at Eve and only chastise Eve for the sin? No, He disciplined them both, because each one of them was responsible for the choices that they made as individuals before Him. (Genesis 3:17)
            Even if a gun was pointed to your head, and you are asked to renounce Jesus Christ, still you alone are required to make that choice. We have no one to blame except ourselves. But, there is hope! Even in our choices, our God is a forgiving God. John reminds us of this truth when he writes, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
            When we come to that place where we realize and recognize the need for us to walk before our God with integrity, then we will also understand the need for us to be examined before Him in all that we do, and say. In Revelation chapter 2-3 Jesus says to each one of the Churches, “I know your works”. He already knows the very depths of our hearts. He knows the motives behind our choices, the excuses we make for those choices, and He knows the reasons why we have made the choices we have made. There is nothing hidden in His sight. Therefore, if we want to walk in integrity before our God, we must, like David pray to be examined daily. “Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my mind and my heart.”  (Psalm 26:2) If we desire integrity, then we must acknowledge that we alone are responsible for all the choices and sins we have made before our Holy and Blameless God. Without this understanding we cannot and will not be able to walk in the integrity of our own hearts.

Father God, examine me. Examine my integrity today. In Jesus Name, amen and amen.