integrity (2)

What Matters Most to God in a Disciple (Part 10)

“Love . . . does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail” (1 Corinthians 13:6 AMPC).

Throughout this series on 1 Corinthians 13, we see clearly that what matters most to God in a disciple is that person’s agape love.  

Verse six identifies another way in which that love shows. A disciple can be trusted to do what is right and say what is true. That is, this person has trustworthy integrity.9570812266?profile=original

This disciple does not deceive, does not slander, and does not behave in unwise ways. We can describe “integrity” as “showing we can be trusted to do what is right and say what is true.”

Earlier in this letter to Corinthian Christians, Paul confronted them with their toleration of—and perhaps their devious delight in gossiping about—something that was blatantly unrighteous: immorality within their congregation (1 Corinthians 5).

He also called them out on their embarrassing mismanagement of disputes with each other. Rather than settling disagreements within their family of believers, they took each other to court—weakening their witness by airing their dispute in front of a pagan judge and a pagan public.

“Your lawsuits show that you’ve lost [to Satan] already. Why not be wronged or cheated, rather than retaliate by wronging or cheating your own family of believers?” asked Paul (I Corinthians 6:7–8).

Here’s some good news in tough situations: When—not if—someone or some situation tests our commitment to do what is right or say what is true, it gives us another opportunity to worship. To worship is to “honor God acceptably with our heart, mind and strength.” When pressured to compromise our integrity, we can worship by standing firm on this reality: Since God is sovereign, my response to this situation is more important in His eyes than my situation itself.

God’s Word is clear about His countercultural desire for us to do what is right and say what is true:

Lord, who can dwell in Your tent? Who can live on Your holy mountain?
The one who lives honestly, practices righteousness,
and acknowledges the truth in his heart —
who does not slander with his tongue,
who does not harm his friend or discredit his neighbor,

who despises the one rejected by the Lord but honors those who fear the Lord,
who keeps his word whatever the cost,
who does not lend his money at interest or take a bribe against the innocent —
the one who does these things will never be moved.
(Psalm 15 HCSB).

Privately or with some friends, here are several questions to ponder:

  • How does our trustworthy integrity reveal our convictions about God?
  • On whom are we focusing—and not focusing—when we compromise our integrity?
  • How is trustworthy integrity an act of worship?
  • How do you expect that your commitment to trustworthy integrity will be tested this week?

© 2018 John C Garmo

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What Kind of Missionary Are YOU?!

All of us who profess to be followers of Christ are missionaries, whether we realize it or not. We may be good missionaries or bad ones, but the Lord has left each of us on this earth as part of His mission to spread the gospel and fill the whole world with His glory (Habakkuk 2:14).

In the mid-1970s I was just completing law school, and was given my first client in the school’s legal clinic program. It was a traffic violation, and my client, Geneva Clark, had been charged with rear-ending another vehicle. Not only that, but her driver’s license had been suspended and was invalid at the time of the accident. And, to make matters worse, Geneva was drunk at the time of the accident.

When the police officers arrived at the accident scene, they reported that Geneva was “strutting boisterously and unclad” in the center of Broad Street, one of the main roads in town. When they charged her with disorderly conduct, she resisted arrest—so they charged her with that too.

Here I was, an intern with the legal clinic, wanting to do well in my first case. Approaching Geneva before we went before the judge, I told her my pessimistic assessment of her case. “Well, Mrs. Clark, I have reviewed your file, and as far as I can see, you have no defense at all.”

Geneva listened politely, and then with a twinkle in her eye started rummaging around in her oversized purse. “Don’t worry, young man,” she assured me calmly. “I have something to show the judge that will help.” She finally found what she was looking for, a rather crumpled-looking card of some kind.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Oh, this is my missionary card,” she replied seriously. “We’ll show this to the judge and he will understand that I’m a missionary...doing God’s work!”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. There may be some areas of the world where a missionary can be effective by “strutting boisterously and unclad,” but Broad Street in Columbus, Ohio, was definitely not such a place. All I could reply to Geneva was, “Somehow I don’t think that will help your case.”

This admittedly is a rather extreme example, but it shows how the world often looks at those who name the name of Christ. Instead of allowing Him to transform our character and manifest His sweet aroma, we end up living like the devil and then trying to use the name of Jesus to cover up for ourselves.

There will never be an impactful revival of Biblical outreach unless it is accompanied by a revival of Biblical character. Before Isaiah was ready to say, “Here am I! Send me,” his sins were purged by burning coals from the altar of God (see Isaiah 6:1-8). Before we can spread the holy fire, it first must be allowed to do its work in our own lives.

So, what kind of missionary are you? When people look at your life, do they truly see Jesus or just a repulsive religious caricature?

In order to influence people for Christ, they must want what we have. I pray you are living that kind of life today, full of the Holy Spirit and radiating His fruit in every situation (Galatians 5:22-23).

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