53 – Do You Have Spiritual Integrity?
Bill is tired. And not just physically tired – although that too – mentally, emotionally, morally, and spiritually tired.
He is exhausted by the pace of the “me, now, fast,” virtual reality, real time, online culture we have created. In fact, we have created a culture which requires more energy than Bill has to give.
Granted, the reason Bill’s life is not turning out like he planned is that he has been living by his own ideas. But that doesn’t lessen his feelings of confusion, disillusionment, quiet despair, loneliness, guilt, fear, and emptiness.
Like a little bird with a broken wing, Bill flopped into church one day to see if he could get fixed. Bill heard a moving sermon and “prayed a prayer.” Then he got involved and, over time, he began to pick up the “correct behavior.” He “added” Jesus as another interest to an already overcrowded schedule, but he never really had time to become “the friend of God.”
In such a busy culture we feel pressure to keep moving. As a result, many of us have met Jesus, asked Him to forgive our sins and give us eternal life, but now we have had to move on to the next topic.
Problem is, though, now we are Christian in “spirit” but “secular” in practice. God is not making much of a difference in our lives because, even though we know Him, we don’t know enough.
You have no doubt heard the saying, “I knew about God, but I didn’t know God.” A far greater problem today is that a lot of men know God, but they don’t know about Him.
Most men only know enough about God to be disappointed with Him.
How about you? Consider these questions,
Are you tired?
Are you disappointed with the way your life is turning out?
Do you feel like more is required of you than you have energy to give?
Have you “prayed a prayer” but not become “the friend of God?”
Have you merely “added” Jesus to your already busy schedule?
Do you know God, but don’t know about God?
Are you “Christian” in spirit, but “secular” in practice?
Do you only know enough about God to be disappointed with Him?
If you don’t like the drift of your answers, let me suggest a starting point to put your life on the right track. You can be the man God wants you to be by leading a life of integrity. By integrity I mean, per Webster, “the quality or condition of being undivided.” To have “spiritual” integrity, then, is to have “undivided faith.” Here’s the idea,
Integrity is a one-to-one correlation between my Bible, my belief, and my behavior.
Let me explain. First, there must be a one-to-one correlation between my Bible and my belief. The Bible contains the record of creation and redemption. It reveals the true nature and character of God. It is to be the final authority for all matters of faith and life. So we must stand on the Bible as the foundation for Christian life.
But unless the Bible makes its way into my belief system, unless the Bible transforms my world and life view, my life will lack integrity. There must be a one-to-one correlation between my Bible and my belief. But that is not enough.
Second, there must also be a one-to-one correlation between my belief and my behavior. In other words, unless what I say I believe “inwardly” in my mind actually influences the way I behave “outwardly” in the world, my life will lack integrity.
So, integrity is a one-to-one correlation between my Bible, my belief, and my behavior. What we need today more than anything else is a revival of the Bible, belief, and behavior.
First, we need a revival of the Bible. Charles Spurgeon once lamented that for every ten men willing to die for the Bible, only one was willing to actually read it.
On the Via Dolorosa in the Old City of Jerusalem, the significance of a nondescript store run by Ferridah Hana could easily be lost amid the menagerie of garish hawkers stationed along that historic road. Known as the Mother Teresa of Israel, this Arab Christian supports 600 orphans out of her tiny shop. From her income she has started two orphanages and a children’s hospital.
One day she was sitting in her store visiting with two American friends. Into her shop came two other Americans, rude men who talked loudly about how filthy the Arabs were in that quarter of the Old City, not knowing Ferridah was Arab.
One of her American visitors started to go give his rude countrymen a piece of his mind. Ferridah reached over, put her hand on his shoulder, and gently pressed him back into his seat. Then she said, “You Americans are so interesting. You take your Bible literally, but you don’t take it seriously.”
Are you taking your Bible seriously? My own life’s ambition is to master one book, and to be mastered by one book. How about you? Do you need a revival of the Bible?
Second, we need a revival of belief. Moses led the exodus out of Egypt, and Joshua led his people into the promised land. They experienced the miraculous plagues, the Passover, the Red Sea, the manna, the pillar of fire, and the conquest of Canaan.
But after Joshua died, the people “intermarried” with the culture, served their gods, and the non-believers became thorns in their sides and their gods became a snare. The technical term for this is syncretism. Syncretism means “blending together different philosophical or religious belief systems.” In other words, they tried to have their cake and eat it too.
Many men today, also, are trying to serve more than one God. They want to “add” Jesus to their lives, but not give up their secret ambition. They are Christian in “spirit” but “secular” in practice. God is not making much of a difference in their lives because they have “intermarried” with the culture, adopting its values, and serving its gods.
Jesus put it this way. He said, “The seed that fell among the thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches, and pleasures, and they do not mature” (Luke 8:14). How about you? Do you need a revival of belief?
Third, we need a revival of behavior. I’m a grace person. We are saved by grace; we are sanctified by grace; but there is a judgement of our works. James said, “Faith without works is dead.” Behavior is the necessary evidence of faith. Obedience is the trademark of a biblical Christian.
In the final analysis, there really are only two kinds of people in the world-sheep and goats. According to Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus will sit on His throne, gather all the nations before Him, and separate the people “as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.”
And on what basis will Jesus decide whether you and I are sheep or goats? By whether or not there was a one-to-one correlation between our Bible, our belief, and our behavior. He will say to those who fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, invited in strangers, clothed the needy, and visited the sick and imprisoned – “You are sheep. Come, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”
And what about the goats – those standing on His left? Well, you don’t want to be standing on His left. If you have sincerely repented of sin and trusted Christ, you’re a sheep. Just be sure your behavior proves it. How about you? Do you need a revival of behavior?
Christianity is not about having the correct information. Christianity is not about having the correct behavior. Christianity is not even having correct beliefs – James 2:19 says, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” Christianity is about having the correct Christ.
Salvation comes through Jesus Christ alone. But once we truly have Christ, we will increasingly desire to be a man of spiritual integrity. Integrity -“undivided faith” – is a one-to-one correlation between my Bible, my belief, and my behavior. Think it over, and see if this idea can keep you on the right track.
Business leader, author, and speaker, Patrick Morley helps men to think more deeply about their lives, to be reconciled with Christ, and to be equipped for a larger impact on the world.
© 1998. Patrick M. Morley. All rights reserved.