Monday, August 03, 2009

Yes even there!

I wrote some quiet time devotions for the high school students at camp this past week. The theme was purity. We talked about sexual purity, mental purity, and spiritual purity. But I felt prompted to write a devo based on character purity and saved it for the last day. I can't help but think that if we could get a grip on maintaining integrity, a lot of other areas in our life would fall into more pure habits. So here it is, the devo. Keep in mind its geared toward students, but I think we can all learn a little something from it.

Character Purity

Psalm 101:2-4

Christian’s are such hypocrites! So much talk for so little walk. We hear this case built against the church all the time, yet we do nothing to change it. Instead we confirm it by our lack of character and integrity. They say integrity is who you are when no one is looking, and for most of us that means we need to take a long, hard look at ourselves and start getting real.

Integrity and sound character are big ideas so let’s break it down. Integrity is:

  1. Trustworthiness: Be honest. Don’t deceive, cheat or steal. Be reliable- in other words do what you say you’ll do. Have the courage to do the right thing. Build a good reputation. Be loyal and stand for what is right.
  2. Respect: Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. Be considerate of the feelings of others. Don’t threaten or hurt anyone. Deal peacefully with anger, insults and disagreements.
  3. Responsibility: Do what you are supposed to do. Persevere- keep trying! Always do your best. Use self-control. Be self-disciplined. Think before you act-consider the consequences. Be accountable for your choices.
  4. Fairness: Play by the rules. Take turns and share. Don’t take advantage of others.
  5. Caring: Be kind! Be compassionate and show you care. Express gratitude. Forgive others. Help people in need.

Read Psalm 101:2-4

“I will walk with integrity of heart within my house.” Yes, even there! Not only did David recognize the need for integrity as king over God’s people, but also within his own household. Even there he was mindful of his conduct and dealings with others. Within our homes there is as much need for dependability, honesty and respect as in any other sphere of our activities.

Genuine integrity is not for certain occasions or to be exercised only in certain places. A person who has integrity in one area of life while neglecting it in another does not really possess integrity.

Let me give you a personal example: Going to the grocery store with two kids can make it difficult to focus on the task. While searching the aisles for the food you need, you are also trying to make sure no one falls out of the cart, one kid doesn’t push the other one out of the cart and you, or they, don’t run the cart into other shoppers. Basically it’s easy to get distracted. Well one day after I strapped the kids into their car seats, I unloaded the newly bagged groceries into the back of the car and I found a small package of taco seasoning that wasn’t rung up laying loosely in my cart. I simply threw the packet into another bag and decided it wasn’t that big of a deal since the package cost maybe .79 cents and wasn’t worth the amount of work it would take to gather the kids up again and head back into the store to pay for it. So I drove off. Most of you don’t think I did anything wrong at this point and would do it too. But a few weeks later the same thing happened again, only the item left unpaid for was a little more expensive but still not that big of a deal. Again, it wasn’t worth the hassle to me, so I didn’t go in and pay for it but instead drove away. Literally a few weeks later it happened again and FINALLY I paid attention. Was God trying to teach me something here? ABSOLUTELY! I had considered myself a person of integrity and yet I wasn’t maintaining that purity of character in the moment God was testing how deep that integrity went. Obviously on the third time I went back in and paid for the item. Yes it was a hassle. Yes I was annoyed and yes it was pointless to everyone other than me and God. But I learned a big lesson that day: Integrity IS who you are when no one is looking. Integrity can only be possessed if it is lived out even in the crevices of your life. Since that day it hasn’t happened to me again. But if it does, I know exactly what I will do because having integrity is more important to me than the hassle it may temporarily cause.

Just think, you won’t have to worry about what people are saying about you when you have purity in character because you know that’s not who you are. But most of the time we get upset because someone calls us a liar or two-faced or hypocrite when its true, we just don’t want anyone to know that about us. Don’t give people anything to talk about and you won’t get mixed up in all the drama. Have integrity, and consistent purity in character instead. As Christians, integrity should be what we are known for, not hypocrisy.

Dig Deeper: James 5:12; Matthew 7:3-5; 1 John 3:18-20; Romans 5:3-5

“It’s not what we eat but what we digest that makes us strong; not what we gain but what we save that makes us rich; not what we read but what we remember that makes us learned; and not what we profess but what we practice that gives us integrity.”

- Francis Bacon Sr.

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