Integrity or Necessity … a rewrite!

“Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room … and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.”

A young lawyer right out of law school was fortunate enough to have a very rich father who rented him as a graduation gift, entire floor of a beautiful downtown New York high rise building. The suite came fully furnished with some of the finest oak furniture. His father had even purchased a full library of law books that filled a whole wall toward the front of the suite.

As he went into his new office he went over to his executive leather chair fit for only the very best highly successful lawyers and sat down. He leaned back and began to day dream some more, picturing himself working cases and arguing before juries and then heard a person come in the front door into the empty reception area. Quickly leaning forward he grabbed the telephone and began pretending he was speaking with someone on the other end of the telephone about a law case. Knowing that the man in the reception area could hear him he spoke louder than normal trying to appear as important as possible. He was able to keep up this act for about two to three minutes before he finally hung up the telephone.

After hanging up he walked out to the reception area and apologized for keeping the man waiting. Still trying to impress the potentially new client he went on to tell the man that it was very hard to keep up with all the telephone calls while he was searching for another prominent attorney to bring on board with him. The brand new lawyer told the man that just any other attorney would not be good enough, he only wanted the best.

After going on about just how important the call was the he had just been on he asked the man how he could help him. The man smiled a bit and told the young lawyer that he was only there to hook up his telephones.

The lack of integrity is all about pretending to be something you are not!

On a regular basis, newspapers will headline various ethical probes in Washington, DC and around the country. When we hear the word integrity, in our minds we associate some moral code that one needs to have incorporated into their life. We generally want those in working in government using our hard earned tax dollars, those in schools teaching our children educational values, those who we look up to as our spiritual leaders and even those in our families, to have integrity. When we say that someone is a person of high integrity, we mean that person will make a personal choice to uphold themselves to consistent moral code, regardless of costs to them. To me, integrity stands opposed to hypocrisy. For the Christian man or woman, integrity is an imperative. Jesus was a man of integrity because He spoke honestly. His actions validated the truthfulness and accuracy of what He said.

Election year is going to be soon upon us. We want a person of integrity in the White House. The word integrity is derived from the Latin adjective ‘integer’ meaning whole or complete. We want to see in our political leaders this wholeness coming from qualities of honesty. We want to see in our spiritual leaders a consistency of character that shows us integrity. Our spouses want to see in us words and actions that result from values, beliefs and principles we claim to hold. The old adage of “Do as I say, and not as I do” is integrity corrupted.

Looking at King David’s life, even with all of the flaws, it is easy to see integrity running like a golden thread throughout his life. He was considered a great leader of integrity because he had a steadfast adherence to God’s moral code. And when he failed miserably, he then tried to hide his crime of passion which finally ended in murder, what did he do when exposed? His integrity came to the surface and he confessed.

Daniel was another man of integrity. Listen to what God wrote about Daniel: “Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. (Because of jealousy, his colleges) tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. [Daniel 6:3-4 NIV] He was a hostage to a foreign power in a foreign land, but in the face of this he did his job with integrity. Those around him classified Daniel as a man of exceptional qualities, so much so that the king recognized this foreign prisoner as someone he could trust above anyone else in his whole kingdom. King Darius found in Daniel an excellent spirit and attitude [v. 3]. I know that this is a worn out clique, but it still seems to be true: “We can only fake a good attitude for so long before our real attitude comes to the surface.” What makes a person successful in the sight of God, who sees into the heart, is what we are like when alone where only God knows our actions. That is what integrity is all about.

Because Daniel’s attitude was in the right place, he was faithful to what God gave him to do [v. 4]. In today’s political and business environment, to find a man or woman in whom no corruption can be found is rare indeed. Whether I am in business, politics, homemaker or ministry, the question is always the same for God. Am I trustworthy as to my promises and not negligent in what I do? The practice of integrity produces unworldly wisdom.

Integrity starts and ends with the “law of God” [v. 5]. The verse does not say that directly but it is implied. Real integrity comes only from learning about the kind of integrity that God has in mind. What is interesting is that Daniel’s enemies had to manufacture a circumstance where Daniel’s pursuit of integrity to God’s law was tested by civil law.

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. [Daniel 6:10] His praying three times a day to God was not a sudden act of civil rebellion. Daniel did nothing more than do what he had always done. When he learned of the decree, he did not rush home and raise panic prayers to God. What is important to God is our consistent walk with Him, and that is what Daniel did in the face of death; “just as he had done before.” Those qualities of integrity: exceptional attitude, faithfulness and personal purity where the disciplines that enabled him in the moment of crisis to not panic and to continue to be “giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” Without the foundation building blocks of faith, his attitude, his faithfulness and his trustworthiness would have gone out the window. Without the building blocks, the history of Daniel would have been far different. When the crisis comes, have you been building on the right foundation?

Measure of Success

Genesis 39:2

“The Lord was with Joseph, so he became a successful man.”

This is an unusually insightful story for today in our ‘name it and claim it’ spiritual climate. Joseph was successful [an alternate word can be prosperous]. He worked hard with integrity in all he did. It is so easy to see that the Lord was with Joseph and miss the fact that Joseph made it possible for God to operate freely in his life. Materially Joseph was prosperous and successful but it started with his spiritual life.

Becoming successful in area of life can be quicksand for the unwary. One of the take-away lessons of Joseph’s life is being successful is not a guarantee that all will be pleasant and nice. For Joseph, it started when his brothers at first wanted to kill him but instead sold him into slavery. By the world’s standards, he had ample grounds for being revengeful and rebellious. But instead, he rose above the conditions he found himself in [and they were all unjust] and maintained his integrity before God. Maybe he knew that proverb that says: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” [Proverbs 16:18 NASB]

Key word            successful

definitions:   ● turning out well: having the intended result

● popular: popular and making a lot of money

● record of significant achievements:

● having achieved much, especially wealth, fame, or power

synonyms:   ● acknowledged, ahead of, influential; authoritative

antonyms:   ● unsuccessful, failure, loss

 

Something to Ponder:

Just because we are spiritually successful; that is, we live and act as Christ in us acts, does not exempt us from temptation. Paul wrote to the church gathered at Corinth: Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” [1CO 10:12 NASB] Be careful to measure success by God’s standard and not by the world’s.

Having said that, consider the charge given to Joshua by God Himself:  “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you maybe careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you willhave success.[Joshua 1:8 NASB] Our success, as measured by God, is directly proportional to the time and effort we put into internalizing His standards for living.

So what are the disadvantage[s] of not following God’s protocol? 

Just because it appears that God “is on our side” seeing as things are going so well, should not be an occasion for us to let down our guard. Satan will always look for ways to strip us of our integrity. When bad things happen, allowing Satan to play the “blame game” on our minds will cause us to become victims because he will convince us we have lost our entitlements. God does not care about our entitlements but does care about our obedience regardless of our circumstances.

There are definite Advantages and Benefits:

There is a saying that goes like this: “The real test of a man’s character is what he is like when no one is around.” Joseph was obedient to what he knew God expected of him even when no one was around to know. He consistently lived this way as a slave and as a prisoner. Jesus, by His very nature, was entitled to more than we will ever comprehend but He turned that all over to His Father who in turn was able to use Him to restore you and I.

There is another benefit we can learn. Potiphar’s wife was persistent. She tried to entice Joseph not just once but ‘day after day.’ Joseph was not a superman. He like all of us had his up days and down days. There were days when he felt strong and days when he felt worn down. It is the temptations that occur day after day that will be the toughest battles. Alcoholics know this well and hence learn to live one day at a time. Joseph lived one day at a time and that was his secret to success with God. Sometimes success means running for your life!

Here are THREE Applications to consider:

A1:      We cannot see our future and God’s plans for us now. Are you a character like “Joseph” and live and work in obedience as God expects of you?

A2:      No matter what we have lost and how bad the conditions we find ourselves, are you maintaining your success before God by being obedient even when nobody is around.

A3:      Real success is measured by what Jesus taught: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” How are you doing in advancing His kingdom by doing His will when nobody knows but our Father?