Saturday, February 22, 2014
1 Timothy 3: 2 states, “A bishop then must be blameless” in the KJV, also translated “above reproach” in other versions. While this is talking about pastors in particular, one would be foolish to not recognize this applies to all Christians. 1 Thessalonians 5:2 aimed at believers in general to the church in Thessalonica also confirms, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” Both of these statements have the general idea of keeping a clean testimony, and resisting anything that one could rebuke you for. This is the idea of integrity: having a character that not only tells other people to abstain from sin, but also abstaining from sin yourself. Having a good character, a clean testimony for God is vital in the life of a Christian, because we are to be pointing to Christ, the perfect example of a life lived with perfect integrity.
How does proverbs communicate to us how to live with integrity? If I covered every requirement, ever verse that discusses integrity, I could write a large discourse because God demands holiness, but let’s see if we can at least skim the surface of the topic of integrity. Proverbs 1:7 gives us the most basic and most important piece of advice when dealing with our character: “fear the Lord.” This sounds like it would be obvious, but it is often taken too lightly. Practically speaking, how is this lived out? Do we start our day with prayer? Do we go to God even for the simple things? Are we consciously thinking about what would please God with every decision we make? Fearing the Lord is putting his glory at the forefront of every decision you make. Part of this is seeking the right kind of counsel and surrounding yourself with other godly men and women of integrity. We have a perfect contrast in Proverbs 1:5 and 1:10. Proverb 1:5 advises, “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels” while 1:10 contrasts that statement with, “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.” Again this seems obvious enough, but think about it. Have you ever followed the wrong counsel because it sounded godly? Sin can be subtle and the devil can be subtle. We need to be wary. The devil knows how to subtly twist scripture to make us believe we are doing right. All advice should be tested against the backdrop of the Bible. Another good way to keep your integrity pure is by remembering this simple statement by From Proverbs 5:21: “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings.” It’s easier to be godly with people watching isn’t it? If you’re parents or pastor were watching everything you do, you would be pretty careful to not take a misstep. Remember, God is always watching, and not in the sense that he’s waiting to see you fall. He loves to see his children follow him, so with every decision think, would this please my Father?
I’ve just gone over three basic statements that should help us pursue godliness and integrity; (1) Fear the Lord, (2) Seek godly counsel, and (3) Remember the Lord is always watching, so don’t do anything you would be ashamed for him to see you doing. How might technology effect our integrity? Let’s just attack the monster first; one of the most subtle, most dangerous temptations some of us don’t even give thought to; sensuality. Proverbs 6:24-29 contains a good bit about sensuality. “To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adultress will hunt for the precious life. Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? So he that goeth in to his neighbour's wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.” While this is talking about adultery literally, it’s a representation of the sin of sexual immorality. Desensitization is a huge problem. TV is rampant with sexual perversion. It starts out with watching a television show that just contains hints of sexual immorality. Most people don’t suddenly wake up one day and find themselves stuck in pornography, for example, but if you aren’t careful, the more dirt from television that you fill your mind with, the more you will find your judgment lacking until changing the channel because of inappropriate content doesn’t even cross your mind. Television can either build you up or tear you down depending on what you watch so be wise, try to seek counsel about the type of movie or show you are watching, and don’t watch anything you would be ashamed to watch with Christ sitting next to you, because remember God sees everything you do. Another area of danger is the internet and social media. It is so crucial to be careful when you are surfing the net. One misclick can lead you down a path to destruction. I saw this played out in my own life when I was in high school. I loved looking at funny content on the web. It started with clean content and then I ran across pictures with innuendos and curse words. While this was repulsing at first, before I really knew what happened I was using innuendos, cursing, and becoming completely desensitized to sexual perversion as well. It starts with seeing one thing that you shouldn’t see, and it goes down hill. Along with hanging out with friends who were terrible influences, though I didn’t realize it (remember how I said ungodly counsel can be subtle) I was stuck in a place without really knowing just how deeply corrupted I had become. I corrected the problem by getting things right, seeking godly counsel, and being utterly careful about content I viewed, no matter what outlet (social media, internet, tv, etc.). In essence, I corrected the problem by doing the three things I proposed earlier. It’s a decision you must make, but you can use those outlets for good. The internet has many resources for those looking for an encouraging thought, needing to have more knowledge on a subject for research, or simply having a good laugh. Just be careful with that last one. If something’s clean and funny, having a laugh is good, but don’t sacrifice entertainment for integrity. Finally, how do the use of smartphones effect our integrity? Obviously if you have a smart phone with connection to the internet, we’ve covered that subject, but just three additional observations. (1) Most of us have many contacts in our phone and if we are seeking advice or counsel, we have people we can reach in our finger tips and we must choose wisely. (2) There are many applications available on smartphones so be careful what you choose to spend your time with. Filling your mind with games, apps with funny pictures, and celebrity gossip is dangerous and should be minimized if not deleted entirely. (3) With smart phones, we have the bible at our fingertips; use it. If you’re seeking counsel on something, go to your bible app and read what God has to say about that subject before going to a friend about it. However, if you have a paper bible, use it. Bible apps are good to use, but with everything else that is on a smartphone, it can be hard to stay focused. Finally, the topic that is touchy and probably the most debated; video games. I’m only going to say one statement about video games. We’ve covered a lot about technology and integrity; use discretion if you are going to play video games, keep violent games to a minimum if you chose to play them at all, and stay away completely from any games containing sensuality or gross worldliness.
I've discussed quite a bit about integrity but allow me to wrap up by saying this, If you are a Christian, pleasing God should be your first priority. I challenge you to reevaluate your standards and remember the guidelines discussed earlier (1) Fear the Lord, (2) Seek godly counsel (3) Remember God sees everything. Hebrews 4:13, "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do."