This evening I want to do something I have wanted to do for some time. This evening we will discuss the concept of integrity." I want us to think from the scripture together much as we would in a class. I want you involved in our thinking together. I want some verbal response from you--I want you to talk to me. I am not looking for any specific response. I just want to stimulate your thinking.

If speaking to me violates your conscience, do not speak. All I ask you to do is to listen carefully to the responses. If sharing with/speaking to me does not violate your conscience, speak to me. I want all of us to focus on our personal concepts of integrity. If there are differences in our concepts, I want you to note them.

This evening as we think about the concept of "integrity," I need you to get your minds in gear by thinking about what "integrity" means to you. I want to give you a specific context, and I will ask you what "integrity" means to you in that specific context. I want you to share with me your perspective.

Let's begin with a simple one: when you think of a person's work, his or her job, what does the word 'integrity' mean to you in a job situation?

When you think of making a purchase, when you are buying a car or a heating system or a new appliance, what does the word 'integrity' mean in regard to someone selling you something?

Think with me just a moment about friendship. What does the word 'integrity' mean to you in friendship?

What does the word 'integrity' mean to you in regard to husbands? In this situation, I want you to note that a woman's concept and a man's concept of 'integrity' in this relationship are often quite different.

What does the word 'integrity' mean in regard to wives?

What does the word 'integrity' mean in regard to being a parent?

In the dictionary I use, "integrity" is defined as "1. soundness; 2. adherence to a code of values; 3. the state of being complete or undivided." In "every day" terms, it is an honest person who is true to his or her honesty and consistent with what his or her values are all the time.

  1. When I use the word "blameless," what do you think?
    1. Everyone who thinks this, hold up your hand: "When I hear the word 'blameless,' I think of a person who is never guilty of making a mistake."
    2. Everyone who thinks this, hold up your hand: "When I hear the word 'blameless,' I think of a person that no one justly can find fault with."
    3. Everyone who thinks this, hold up your hand: "When I hear the word 'blameless,' I think of 'integrity.'"
    4. The Hebrew concept of "blameless" is being a person of integrity.

  2. I want to call your attention to several scriptures.
    1. Consider these scriptures:
      • Genesis 6:9 (Noah) These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.
      • Genesis 17:1 (Abraham) Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless."
      • Deuteronomy 18:13 (Israel's Levitical priests) You shall be blameless before the Lord your God.
      • 2 Samuel 22 (a psalm of praise to God from David):
        24 I was also blameless toward Him, And I kept myself from my iniquity.
        26 With the kind You show Yourself kind, the blameless You show Yourself blameless;
        31 As for God, His way is blameless; The word of the Lord is tested; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.
        33 God is my strong fortress; And He sets the blameless in His way.
      • Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.
        1:8--The Lord said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil."
        2:3--The Lord said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause."
    2. Note these things:
      1. Noah was a person of integrity in a world without integrity.
      2. For Abraham to walk with God, he must be a person of integrity.
      3. For the priests to minister before God, they must be a people of integrity.
      4. When David praised God, he spoke of the importance of integrity to God.
      5. The book of Job verifies the importance of integrity to God.
      6. In being this person of integrity, God's values and character are the standard.
    3. There are at least four Greek words translated 'blameless.' Consider some of the uses of 'blameless' in the New Testament.
      • 1 Corinthians 1:8 (Christians at Corinth) who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
      • Ephesians 1:4 (Christians at Ephesus) just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.
      • Ephesians 5:27 (the church) that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
      • Philippians 2:15 (Christians at Philippi) so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,
      • Colossians 1:22 (Christians at Colosse) yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach.
    4. The emphasis in the New Testament is a carry over from the Old Testament with a focus on the nature of sacrifice.
      1. Sacrifices presented to God must come from the best because He is worthy of the best.
      2. Only people who are devoted to integrity can present themselves to the God of integrity.
      3. God made the person who enters Christ 'blameless'; it is our responsibility to become what He made us.

  3. The God Who justifies me purifies me; as the justified and purified, we are consistently devoted to good.
    1. Because God calls me to integrity, the world is blessed through my existence.
      1. My family should be a better family because God directs me toward being His person of integrity.
      2. My neighborhood should be a better neighborhood because God directs me toward being a person of integrity.
      3. My workplace should be a better workplace because God directs me toward being a person of integrity.
      4. My friends should receive a blessing in their lives because God directs me toward being a person of integrity.
      5. The church should be a kinder, more thoughtful, more caring group of people as a Christian community because God directs me toward being a person of integrity.
    2. Who should be blessed because God has called me to integrity?
      1. Everybody who has contact with my life should be exposed to potential blessing!
      2. Look at Jesus our savior and guide to God: contact with him always was a potential blessing to others--if the blessing did not occur, it was not because it was not available!
      3. Even people who do not like me should be blessed because of me.
      4. I want us to consider a statement made by Jesus.
        Matthew 5:44-48 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
        1. Jesus is not talking about our acting belligerently.
        2. He is talking about our being a different kind of people.
        3. He does not compare his disciples to 'good people', but to what his audience considered extremely 'bad people'.
        4. Those who follow Jesus are different.
          1. They are not like society--culture does not give them their values.
          2. They are not like people who do not acknowledge God and are not known for their compassion.
          3. Their standard is Jesus; they want to reflect God in their lives as did Jesus.
          4. They do not want to be like everyone else--they want to be a blessing to everyone else.

One of the treasured gifts and blessings God has given me is to be a part of this congregation. You commonly express great compassion and generosity. This is a truly caring community of Christian people.

I am also just like most of you. There are some things that deeply grieve me. Let me share three.

  1. It grieves me when Christians are kinder to people they do not know [and likely never will know] than they are to Christians they do know. That is not consistent with Christian integrity.


  2. It grieves me when Christians fail to realize different Christians have different needs. I commonly see two major groups among Christians. I see Christians [this is not an age matter!] who are blessed by circumstances that permit them an existence that does not have to interact with a godless world on a daily basis. I also see Christians who have no choice. They must interface/interact with a godless world on a daily basis. The first group of Christians is rarely bruised and battered by the godless world. The second group of Christians is bruised and battered almost every week by the godless world. Rarely is there a week that passes that does not demand that I encourage and seek to help a Christian who is bruised, battered, and blooded from doing battle with life in a godless world. Needs in those two groups of Christians are very different. Christian integrity gives us the responsibility to recognize those differences.


  3. It grieves me when a Christian fails to distinguish between preference and God's will. Having preferences is quite okay. Imposing personal preferences on other Christians as if those preferences were God's will is extremely destructive. Christian integrity demands that we allow God to teach us to distinguish between preference and God's will. The issue is never, "What do I like," but the issue is always "What does God like." Too often things that are emotional matters to us are not matters of concern to God.

Are you a person of integrity? Are people blessed because you follow Jesus Christ?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 20 March 2005

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