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The value of Honesty and integrity

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“The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.” Proverbs 11:3

Beloved, have you heard about The Great Wall of China? This wall took the ancient Chinese many years to build so as to prevent the invasion of the enemy.  The wall covers hundreds of miles. It was so thick that no enemy could break through it; so long that no one could go around it and so high that no one could get over it.  But did you know that within the first hundred years after the wall was finished; China was invaded three times. In fact, the enemy did not go over the wall, they did not go around it, they didn’t go under it and they didn’t go through it.  Do you know how they got in, in all these three invasions? They bribed the gatekeeper and they walked in. 

Many times, we put much emphasis in money on how to govern and defend ourselves but little attention is being given to the character of the people that will lead that defense.  Beloved, I want you to know today that whatever a man may build, whether it is a business or a nation or an empire, if he doesn’t build his own character, he has failed in life. 

Beloved, lack of integrity has existed in the world over the years. If God has fashioned men to lead their families, to lead the church, to lead their communities, He obviously expects them to take the lead in modeling integrity.

WHAT IS INTEGRITY?

Webster’s Dictionary defines integrity as “The quality of or state of being complete.” The Dictionary gives the synonym of integrity as “wholeness.” This is a good definition because that is exactly what the Bible says integrity is.  In the Old Testament, the word that is translated as “integrity” in the Hebrews is “thom” and it literally means, whole, complete.  Therefore, integrity by its nature implies consistency. It means being sound, faithful, truthful through and through, top to bottom. Integrity in one’s life means that such life is characterized by the truth.

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE HAS TO SAY ON THIS SUBJECT?

“Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.” Psalm 25:21

“And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever.” Psalm 41:12

“And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart.” Genesis 20:6

“And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments.” 1Kings 9:4

“And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity.Job 2:3

 “The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.” Proverbs 20:7

“God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.” Job 27:5

GREAT MINDS ALSO SPEAK ON INTEGRITY

Integrity means doing the same thing whether people are with you or whether you are alone.  Integrity doesn’t just apply to big decisions.  It also applies to your small decisions.  It affects your whole life.  Integrity is being honest, upstanding and having a strong character.” - Ed Anderson

“A life lived with integrity – even if it lacks the trappings of fame and fortune is a shinning star in whose light others may follow years to come.” - Denis Waitley

“A single lie destroys a whole reputation of integrityBaltasar Gracian.

“We must be the same person in private and in public.  Only the Christian worldview gives us the basis for this kind of integrity.Chuck Colson.

Integrity is keeping a commitment even after circumstances have changed”David Jeremiah

Beloved, permit me to share this story that happened few years ago with you to prove that integrity must characterize every area of our lives, not just a part.

A man and a woman were lodged in a hotel for a short period of time. During this time, they came across a considerable amount of stolen money amounting to hundred thousands of dollars in their apartment. They called the hotel management, reported the discovery and handed over the money to them.  The management were amazed at their honesty and decided to reward them but they declined.  Subsequently, the management informed the local police.  The Police wanted to make an example of this couple and desired their name for publication for the story and citation for an award.  However, the man and the woman vehemently objected.

After much persuasion by the police chief, the man was forced to confess that they were not married and would not want any publicity, as their spouses must not know about their adulterous get-together. The police chief was perplexed.  Beloved, how could you explain two such honest individuals who were engaged in immoral relations.  The point of this story is that these sin-partners lacked marital and sexual integrity, though they displayed financial integrity.

Beloved, integrity means our whole life is characterized by Truth. In other words, every area of our life is governed by God’s truth. Our Lord, Master and Saviour Jesus Christ is our perfect example and in every regard is He. "They came to him and said, 'Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are;...” (Mark 12:14).  Jesus Christ said in Luke 16:10 that “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” Beloved, this is completeness of integrity and men like that are rare in our society today but it is my prayer that Almighty God will make you and I one in Jesus’ Name.

Here comes the question - How does one become a man of integrity? To answer this question, I want to say that integrity starts in the heart. Jesus Christ said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” (Luke 6:45). Beloved, whatever is on the inside is just going to come to the outside. Solomon said, "As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man." (Proverbs 27:19).

Beloved, for you to have clear understanding of this subject, permit me to share another story of Integrity with you.  It is titled “The Boiled Seed.”

In the Far East the emperor was growing old and knew it was time to choose his successor. Instead of choosing one of his assistants or his children, he decided to do something different. He called young people in the kingdom together one day. He said, “It is time for me to step down and choose the next emperor. I have decided to choose one of you." The children were shocked, but the emperor continued. "I am going to give each one of you a seed today - one very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from this one seed. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next emperor."

One boy, named Ling, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his mother the story. Her mother helped him get a pot and planting soil, and he planted the seed and watered it, carefully. Everyday, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other youths began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Ling kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. By now, others were talking about their plants, but Ling didn't have a plant and he felt like a failure. Six months went by - still nothing in Ling's pot.

He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Ling didn't say anything to his friends, however. He just kept waiting for his seed to grow.  A year finally went by and all the youths of the kingdom brought their plants to the emperor for inspection. Ling told his mother that he wasn't going to take an empty pot. But his mother asked him to be honest about what happened.

Ling felt sick at his stomach, but he knew his mother was right. He took his empty pot to the palace. When Ling arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other youths. They were beautiful - in all shapes and sizes. Ling put his empty pot on the floor and many of the other children laughed at him. A few felt sorry for him and just said, "Hey, nice try."

When the emperor arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted the young people. Ling just tried to hide in the back. "My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown," said the emperor. "Today one of you will be appointed the next emperor!"

All of a sudden, the emperor spotted Ling at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered his guards to bring him to the front. Ling was terrified. He thought, "The emperor knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will have me killed!"

When Ling got to the front, the Emperor asked his name. "My name is Ling," he replied. All the kids were laughing and making fun of him. The emperor asked everyone to quiet down. He looked at Ling, and then announced to the crowd, "Behold your new emperor! His name is Ling!"

Ling couldn't believe it. Ling couldn't even grow his seed. How could he be the new emperor?

Then the emperor said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone here a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds that would not grow. All of you, except Ling, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Ling was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new emperor!"

Beloved, this is a test of character; a test of integrity and it is the ultimate test. Could you see the wisdom of this emperor? If anybody would succeed him, that person must have just one quality - HONESTY and INTEGRITY but it was only Ling that passed the test.

Beloved, do you know that:

If you plant honesty, you will reap trust

If you plant goodness, you will reap friends

If you plant humility, you will reap greatness.

If you plant perseverance, you will reap victory

If you plant consideration, you will reap harmony.

If you plant hard work, you will reap success

If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation

If you plant faith, you will reap miracles.

Beloved, be careful what you plant now because it will determine what you will reap tomorrow. Remember that the seeds you now scatter will make life worse or better for you or for those that will come after you. A day is coming that you will enjoy the fruits or you will pay for the seed you have sown.

My dear reader, we live in a society that has become obsessed with success. We say the end justifies the means.  This is the tragedy of life. 

When a civil servant (salary earner) has many houses, cars and sends his five children to expensive schools when he does not have a second source of income, is that not a case of Boiled Seed sprouting?  When a political office holder can have hidden bank accounts and questionable investments in foreign countries, is that not a case of a Boiled Seed coming to life?  Beloved, it is high time we stop cheering rogues in our society. Ecclesiastes 8:11-13 says, “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him: But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.”

Beloved, next time you see a successful person, find out what kind of seed he was given and ask him, ‘how come your boiled seed has sprouted?’ Jeremiah 17:11 says, “As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.”

PRAYER

David prayed in Psalm 7:8 "Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most High." Beloved, can you pray this prayer? Can you say, "Judge me O Lord according to my integrity, according to my faithfulness, according to my uprightness, according to my holiness etc? This is the prayer we should pray. It is my prayer that Holy Spirit will interpret this message to you and I in Jesus’ Name. Jehovah God will make us an embodiment of honesty, uprightness and integrity in all areas of our lives in Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

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