As addicts and people in denial of truth and reality, we can manipulate what is means to have moral soundness. We justify, we lie to others, to ourselves, we compare and grade on a curve. Even as christians we pick and choose what the bible says and what we believe based on what is easiest for us to get as close to sin without sinning as we can get. To live a life of integrity is complex, here are some of my thoughts on integrity for today:
Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring. (James 3:2-12 NLT)
1. What three things does James compare the tongue to? What point is he trying to make through these illustrations? A ship who is guided by a small rudder, a fire that sweeps through the forest and a poisonous animal that cannot be tamed. he also talks of a horse being led by the small bit in its mouth and a spring that cannot hold both fresh water and spring water. Words are powerful, we taught our kids to say sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me, which is ridiculous and not biblical! Words are powerful, our tongues can be like poison, killing everything it slashes with our bite, or it can be a small rudder or bit guiding us and those around us. It can be contagious like a wildfire and it can either destroy or it can rebuild growth depending on the control of it.
2. Why is the relationship between what a person says and what a person believes so important? Much of our human expression is through words. If you want to know someones heart you need to listen. Too often we are on the defense in life and we are not out to listen, we are out to protect what we are really feeling. We may be dishonest so we don’t hurt feelings, or making sure that other people who we don’t trust don’t figure us out cause if they figure us out then they will not like what they see. We don’t like what we see in ourselves so we may assume they will not like the authentic true self either. We haven’t fully surrendered our position as a child of God, so we take on responsibilities we were not intended to take on, identities we were not meant to carry and it steered us so far away. A big fear is we will never get back so we fake it.
integrity, say what you mean, do what you say.
Do not over analyze, stay focused on God and you will bear fruit in your life. You will feel healthy, fulfilled, and your purpose will be shown by simply say what you mean, do what you say.
If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:13-18 NLT)
One last thought. Let’s look at the second definition of integrity.
2. (n.) an undivided or unbroken completeness or totality with nothing wanting;
The God-sized hole we either currently or used to try to fill with drugs, sex and rock and roll still left us feeling divided, broken and incomplete. With Jesus, we find integrity of this proportion, a completeness with nothing wanting. Better than any other high, any other idol any other solution.
When we can admit our wrongs, when we can own up to the past and our pettiness, our responsibility in our irresponsibility, we are practicing humility. We gain wisdom and integrity in the process. And though he came to scoff, may he remain to pray.